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George Strait is simple and direct on his farewell tour

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George Strait performs during his “The Cowboy Rides Away Tour” stop at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014.
Photo: Yasmina Chavez

Three stars

George Strait MGM Grand Garden Arena, February 1

Country singer George Strait’s farewell tour has been going on for so long that this week marked its second stop in Vegas—and the first was a year ago. If Strait is indeed retiring, he certainly gave fans plenty to go out on, performing 33 songs (spanning his entire 30-plus-year career) over nearly two and a half hours. Then again, he also told the crowd, “I’m not quitting completely. I’m still going to do a few things. This might be one of them.” So it’s possible that Strait’s taking the same approach to his alleged farewell tour as artists like Kiss and Cher.

George Strait at MGM Grand: 2/1/14

Either way, the crowd treated Strait like the king of country music (as opener Miranda Lambert, who sat in for two songs, repeatedly described him), loudly singing along to Strait hits like “You Look So Good in Love,” “I Can Still Make Cheyenne” and “Give It Away.” He evoked a massive crowd response just by pointing in the direction of any part of the arena.

The stage was a simple rectangle in the middle of the venue, which allowed more seats to be filled, but also meant that the mostly stationary Strait had his back to at least half the audience at all times. With his stiff-looking button-up shirt and jeans, Strait resembled a suburban dad, and he’s not exactly a world-class showman. For the king of country music, he came across a little bland, a competent singer and performer who’s achieved legend status mostly by sticking around. As far as his fans were concerned, though, their king was heading into potential retirement in fine form.

Setlist:

“The Fireman”

“Check Yes or No”

“Ocean Front Property”

“Marina Del Rey”

“Blame It on Mexico”

“A Fire I Can’t Put Out”

“Nobody in His Right Mind Would’ve Left Her”

“Here for a Good Time”

“Arkansas Dave”

“How ’Bout Them Cowgirls” (with Miranda Lambert)

“Run” (with Miranda Lambert)

“River of Love”

“You Look So Good in Love”

“I Saw God Today”

“I Can Still Make Cheyenne”

“Drinkin’ Man”

“That’s What Breaking Hearts Do”

“I Believe”

“Give It Away”

“80 Proof Bottle of Tear Stopper”

“Lead On”

“Amarillo by Morning”

“The Chair”

“Fool Hearted Memory”

“I Got a Car”

“I’ll Always Remember You”

“Give It All We Got Tonight”

“Troubadour”

“Unwound”

Encore:

“Same Kind of Crazy”

“All My Ex’s Live in Texas”

“Folsom Prison Blues”

“The Cowboy Rides Away”

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