Garth Brooks poised for concert comeback in Chicago

Garth Brooks poised for concert comeback in Chicago
Garth Brooks, shown during a July news conference in Nashville, Tenn., formally ends his self-imposed hiatus from touring with the kickoff of a new world tour on Sept. 4 in Rosemont, Ill. (Mark Humphrey / AP)

Garth Brooks took to ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" on Thursday to announce a new … announcement.

The country superstar teased a news conference he's holding in Rosemont, Ill., on Thursday, where he will reveal more details about his return to touring. Brooks, 52, ends his self-imposed 13-year hiatus from the road with a world tour that kicks off tonight at the first of 11 sold-out shows at the 18,500-seat Allstate Arena just outside Chicago.


“What we announced here nine months ago can’t hold a candle to what we’re getting ready to announce,” Brooks told GMA host Robin Roberts, referencing his visit to the show last December, which was when he announced his plan to get back on the road again. “Music history is about to change, let’s put it that way.”

Brooks presumably was alluding to a previously revealed decision to make his music available for digital downloading, something he’s resisted throughout the iTunes era because he has refused to allow his albums to be cherry-picked for individual tracks.

Brooks said he has decided to enter the digital download age, but as he often has through his career, will do it his own way, using his website rather than aligning with another retailer. The details of that process have not been unveiled, but he's expected to share more information today.

"There's a new window open in digital music coming and I'm proud to be part of it," Brooks told Roberts.

He also has recorded a new studio album, but hasn't yet announced when that will surface.

Brooks has performed occasionally in public during the 13 years since he stepped away from touring to focus his attention on raising his three daughters. He said he promised them he would be a full-time father until all three had turned 18 and were ready to go to college.

He performed occasionally during that time, primarily for charity concerts such as a Hurricane Katrina benefit in 2005 and a pair shows in California in 2008 to benefit firefighters' support organizations after a string of wildfires ravaged many areas of the state.

Las Vegas hotel magnate Steve Wynn persuaded Brooks into a series of solo, acoustic performances on weekends at his 1,500-seat Encore Theatre in Las Vegas starting in 2009. Brooks scheduled his shows around his daughters' school and extracurricular activities, using a private Lear jet provided by Wynn to allow him to keep his commitment to his children.

At the end of his four-year residency at the Wynn, Brooks and his band returned to the recording studio to document his versions of favorite songs by other artists, songs that played a central role in his Wynn shows. That resulted in an 8-disc box set "Blame It All on My Roots," released last fall and containing four discs of those songs, two more of Brooks' own hits and two DVDs.

Fans will get their first look at a Garth Brooks large-scale full-band concert tonight. He had planned a series of five "Garth Brooks Comeback Special" concerts for the 83,000-capacity Croke Park Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, last month, but those shows fizzled when Dublin City Council officials voted to approve permits for just three of the five shows that had sold out in January.

Brooks took the position that he would play all five or none, and after the Dublin officials refused to budge, all the shows were canceled.

The Allstate Arena shows will be a completely different production, Brooks said, because they are designed for indoor arenas, rather than the vastly larger outdoor space of the Croke Park facility.

Look for more coverage of Brooks' return on Pop & Hiss.

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