Blame report for Garth Brooks fiasco will be extensive

Rightly or wrongly singer decided he wasn’t playing three shows when booked for five

Ballybough residents   protesting against the cancellation of any of the Garth Brooks Croke Park last week. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.

Ballybough residents protesting against the cancellation of any of the Garth Brooks Croke Park last week. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.


If you were to have picked one live music show this summer which might generate this kind of news splash, it probably wouldn’t have involved an American country singer trying to play a couple of little ol’ shows in a GAA stadium in Dublin.

Garth Brooks at Croke Park was supposed to be a good news story, the country star making his comeback in front of 400,000 happy punters.

But it was not to be. As soon as Dublin City Council announced last week that they were granting an event licence for only three of the mooted five shows at Croke Park, the writing for the whole series was on the wall. Despite efforts around the clock from many parties since last Thursday, all five shows have now been cancelled.

Many have suggested that Brooks should have simply moved two of the three shows to another venue. However, this is not as easy as it sounds, given that the shows were one-off events. Brooks is not playing anywhere else this summer and so is not touring with different production set-ups.

Furthermore, the 10 week licensing application timeline does not allow for such a rapid turnaround.

If nothing else, the Brooks story has shone a light on the complicated application process and timeline behind event licenses and why tickets are sold before such a licence is acquired by the promoter. It will have brought home to all the meaning of that “subject to licence” line in concert adverts.

You could argue that Brooks had a licence for three of the shows and should have proceeded with them. Rightly or wrongly, though, it seems that Brooks made a decision that he wasn’t prepared to play three shows when he was booked for five.

The blame report for this one will be extensive. In the main, the problem arose because of the bitter relationship between the venue owners, the GAA, and local residents. Many of the latter decided they had enough of broken promises from the former and Dublin City Council backed their objections to a point.

For the promoter, the cancellation is a huge blow. Peter Aiken explained on RTÉ Radio One’s The Business on Saturday that he was uninsured for the shows because insurance companies required a licence before providing cover. His company will be nursing serious losses once all the bills for this have been settled.

No doubt, the artist will talk about the cancelled Croke Park shows at his press conference Thursday. Brooks is expected to announce an extensive tour then, so perhaps Irish dates will be in the mix for 2015.

The singer knows he has a huge fanbase in Ireland, but it remains to be seen if there will be a negative reaction from that constituency as a result of this week’s mess.

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