Garth Brooks makes up for lost time in return to Boston

Dina Rudick/Globe Staff

Garth Brooks hasn’t performed a concert in Boston in 17 years. But the country superstar has been making up for lost time this week, playing six shows at the TD Garden Thursday through Sunday, with two shows each Friday and Saturday night.

Brooks, 53, is touring in support of his recent album, “Man Against Machine,” his first release of all original material in 13 years, and is breaking records at venues across the country.

In a chat with the Globe following a press conference at the Garden before the first show, Brooks answered a few questions about his big comeback, in which he is joined by his wife, fellow country singer Trisha Yearwood, to whom he repeatedly referred as “my best friend.”


Q. You are someone who is credited with really upping the ante in terms of big concert production values in country music. Coming back, did you feel a pressure to top yourself? Did you check out any current big acts to see how things have changed in that arena?

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A. I saw a lot [of shows]. And what I saw was a lot of big openings, and then it just kind of stayed there. Our thing when we came here was constant change. We want to surprise people. We want each show to have its own feel.

Q. So you’re really mixing up the set list?

A. You have to. There’s going to be somebody crazy enough to come to all six of these, and you want them to walk away going, “Those guys worked to make each show different.”

Q. With the recent platinum certification of “Man Against Machine” you are once again the best-selling solo artist in US history. Is that still an exciting thing to hear even though you’ve heard it before?


A. It’s something that your publicist gets to run with, but it’s something that you just try not to think about.

Q. Not even a little victory dance?

A. No, because I’m like everybody else, I don’t confuse Garth Brooks with the Beatles and Elvis, I just don’t (laughs).

Brooks also addressed other topics during the press conference:

On the outdated concept that the Northeast is not country-music country: “If you had that misconception, it’s gone the first time you play here,” he said recalling the loud, sell-out crowds that met him 17 years ago at the Garden, when it was known as the Fleet Center.


On how he keeps up his stamina for six shows in four days: “If your job was eating ice cream for a living and your boss says, ‘Hey, you’re going to have to pull a double shift tonight,’ that suits me fine,” he said of his love of performing. “The only guy I ever worry about is the drummer, just because I don’t know how that guy does it.”

On GhostTunes, the new digital music service in which he’s invested that is attempting to compete with iTunes: “Thank God it’s an option for me, or I wouldn’t have digital music out there. So it’s going great for me. It’s a climb like anything else, and anytime you enter a business where someone’s got a pretty good-sized head start and controls 80-90 percent of the market, it’s tough. So we’re just getting out there letting people know that there is another choice.”

On the difference in crowds between now and 17 years ago: Brooks said that Ticketmaster sent him a statistic saying that 43-48 percent of the ticket buyers were 10 years old or not even born the last time he came through. “So half the arena are faces you’ve never seen before,” said Brooks, who noted that the biggest difference is in the volume of the singalongs. “It used to be Ireland had the copyright on that. You could start a song with one word and here they come, but now — I don’t know if it’s [the influence of] karaoke — I think people are less intimidated to sing.”

On contemporary artists that he’s enjoying: Brooks cited Bruno Mars, Joe Nichols, Miranda Lambert, and Jason Aldean as folks he is enjoying, saying Aldean in particular “has opened up a whole new path.” “The one regret I have right now is that we don’t have enough females,” he said. “We should be embarrassed.”

Interview has been edited and condensed. Sarah Rodman can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GlobeRodman.