Last Night: George Strait at Reliant Stadium
Sunday night, George Strait wrangled 80,020 fans into Reliant Stadium for what is sure to be just one of his first "farewell" shows here in Houston. This glut of country fans -- only a few thousand short of the total population of Santa Monica, California -- broke both RodeoHouston and the stadium itself's all-time attendance records, packing the house to see Strait, Martina McBride and the Randy Rogers Band close this rodeo season.
The previous record lasted only a week. Last Sunday's 75,305-strong Go Tejano Day crowd was easily trounced by Strait's posse.
McBride and the RRB opened the night early, with the RRB only playing a handful of songs during their abbreviated but nonetheless crowd-pleasing set. The stalwart Texas country act isn't quite to the point of headlining a RodeoHouston evening themselves, but they could be with a big push à la the Eli Young Band.
The more established McBride held court for longer than the RRB, and her direct opening set didn't complement Strait's so much as it added a well-needed shot of femme to the evening. Strait's sometime touring mate Reba McEntire also fits well with him, though her sitcom duties are probably curbing any touring plans for now.
Strait remains the capital-K King of Country more than 30 years into his run, obviously. Every wave of his hand made the venue erupt, and Reliant Stadium could barely contain the love in the room for him.
Strait, though, remains something of an enigma for the press. He's not the most open personality. He doesn't see the need to air out every twist and turn of his life on social media, and his legend (the definition fits him) only seems to grow through the years as every subsequent male country singer attempts to at least grasp at what Strait's done since the early '80s.
Strait's luck with a great songwriter like Dean Dillon brings to mind the string of commercial successes that Elton John and Bernie Taupin saw during their heyday.
You won't see him as a judge on a reality show, and he won't be writing a tell-all memoir anytime soon.