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October 22, 2014

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Photos: Cowboy and country legend George Strait rides away, again, at MGM Grand

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Yasmina Chavez

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

George Strait at MGM Grand: 2/1/14

George Strait performs during his “The Cowboy Rides Away Tour” stop at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014. Launch slideshow »
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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.

Click to enlarge photo

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

Almost exactly one year to the date, the “King of Country Music” performed in the desert again, this time in the final leg of his farewell tour, “The Cowboy Rides Away.”

In front of a sold-out MGM Grand Garden Arena crowd Saturday night, country music legend George Strait arrived onstage to a roaring standing ovation that made it sound like the “12th Man” was rocking the arena for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Strait, the 2013 ACM Entertainer of the Year, made it very apparent that he was rooting for the Denver Broncos — not once, but a few times in between songs.

The elevated stage was once again set at the center of the arena floor with large multiple video screens and microphones at each corner to ensure that he could engage all of his fans, as well as show his appreciation and love for their loyalty in more than 30 years.

Miranda Lambert opened the concert at 8 p.m. with a 60-minute set that included “Mama’s Broken Heart,” “The House That Built Me,” “Over You, “Gunpowder & Lead,” “Me and Charlie Talking,” “Baggage Claim” and “White Liar.” She also returned to the stage later with Strait to perform duets to “How ‘Bout Them Cowgirls” and “Run.”

Lambert’s set also included “That’s the Way That the World Goes ‘Round,” “Heart Like Mine,” “More Like Her,” “Famous in a Small Town,” “Better in the Long Run” and “All Kinds of Kinds.” Lambert then graciously introduced the king to the stage to one of many of the evening’s standing ovations.

In his signature black cowboy hat and iconic cowboy attire (blue jeans, a button-up shirt and cowboy boots), he performed single after single in his 30-plus-song setlist that started with hits including “The Fireman,” “Check Yes or No,” “Ocean Front Property,” “Marina del Rey,” “Blame it on Mexico” and “Here for a Good Time.”

Strait also performed and made mention of some songs that were inspired and written by his son, Bubba (George Strait, Jr.), including “Arkansas Dave” and “That’s What Breaking Hearts Do.” Other notable songs with standing ovations and crowd involvement included “I Can Still Make Cheyenne,” “The Chair,” “I Saw God Today” and “Troubadour.”

Halfway through the concert, in his typical grace and class, Strait took a moment to show his appreciation and honor our military heroes, just as he did a year ago. Partnered with the Military Warriors Support Foundation, a combat-wounded war hero and his wife were presented with keys to a new, 100-percent-mortgage-free home (with a pool), along with a new big-screen TV and a year of paid groceries.

Strait, a four-year veteran himself, then went right back into it with the appropriate “Give It Away.” He continued with old favorites such as “80 Proof Bottle of Tear Stopper,” “Lead On” and then the crowd singing along with “Amarillo by Morning.”

His 2 1/2 hour set also included songs from his new album “Love Is Everything” including “I Got a Car,” “Give It All We Got Tonight” and “I Believe,” a tribute to the victims and families of Newtown, Conn. Also, “A Fire I Can’t Put Out,” “River of Love,” “You Look So Good in Love,” “Drinking Man,” “Fool Hearted Memory,” “I’ll Always Remember You” and “Unwound.”

Strait closed the show with an encore: “Same Kind of Crazy,” the iconic hit “All My Ex’s Live in Texas,” a tribute to Johnny Cash with “Folsom Prison Blues” and “The Cowboy Rides Away” — to yet another thunderous and standing ovation from his longtime and loyal fans.

The country legend showed his true class yet again by making sure that he thanked his fans from all four corners of the stage, as well as again thanking his Ace in the Hole band members and Lambert for being a part of his farewell tour (Martina McBride was his opening performer at MGM Grand one year ago).

The cowboy rides away again, but fans will most likely still be hearing from Strait for years to come. And he’ll probably be sticking to singing country music instead of predicting Super Bowl champions.

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