‘I’m the real loser in this one,’ says Brooks

The country star loves Ireland but is bewildered by our planning regulations

Garth Brooks admitted he has been under a “dark cloud” for 10 days over the cancellation of his five Dublin shows. Photograph from TV coverage.

Garth Brooks admitted he has been under a “dark cloud” for 10 days over the cancellation of his five Dublin shows. Photograph from TV coverage.

Fri, Jul 11, 2014, 01:00

The thunder rolled.

Standing before an appropriately grey, cloudy backdrop, the announcement of the much-awaited return of the biggest selling solo artist in US music history was overshadowed by Ireland – his clear turmoil of doing right by Irish fans missing out on five shows.

This was a day of joy, he told mostly country music reporters in a former car factory in Nashville, about his re-emergence after 13 years away from touring.

He admitted, though, that he had been under a “dark cloud” for 10 days over his cancellation of five Dublin gigs.

The country music star spoke affectionately about his love for Ireland, and first performing in the country in the 1990s.

“I was treated like a king,” he said. “I have never been treated anything less than a king by Ireland or its people.

“Anyone in Ireland, anyone on the planet that’s sad about this, you’re not one billionth as sad as I am. Cos I’m the real loser in this one, I’m the guy that’s out the greatest experience of his life.”

He mentioned how promoter Peter Aiken called him in the 1990s after his concert tickets were quickly snapped up and told that there was enough demand to sell another 400,000 tickets, four times more.

Now he is bewildered at Ireland’s planning regulations and how 400,000 tickets for his proposed concerts at Croke Park this month could have been sold out, only for Dublin City Council to pull the rug on him and approve just three concerts after residents objected.

“I wish I could tell you I saw it coming. Never did,” he said.

He reassured us that Ireland should not be embarrassed by this mess. The Irish were “the most loving people on the planet” .

He didn’t show much love for one Irish man, though. The Irish system was “flawed”, he said. Clearly pointing the finger at the city council chief executive Owen Keegan, Brooks said that there should be someone above him to overrule his decision and allow the concerts.

Matinee shows – the latest compromise to be offered – wouldn’t work, he said, because they would be “half-assed” given that the shows were designed for night and specifically for Croke Park.

A source close to the performer noted how Brooks was out of pocket by millions of dollars over the council’s decision.

Explaining why his first-show comeback was so important to him, Brooks – described by one prominent country music DJ yesterday as “our Elvis” – compared the maiden concerts to Presley’s famous 1968 Comeback Special, saying he wanted his somewhere special.

“We figure that the one place on the planet to show the world the special moment we think is coming is Ireland.”

He ruled out splitting the five shows up, pointing to the logistical complications of mounting such a large show built specifically for a single venue.

He said it would take 12 days of pre-loading and five days of “heavy-assed loading” after the last game at Croke Park.

“This thing is monstrous – the reason why it is: it must match the quality and integrity of the Irish people, so that is why we have spent so much time on this.”

Brooks said he would announce the new location of the first show of his world tour on July 14th.

The performer couldn’t talk about performing in Ireland again until the country sorted out planning for big-ticket concerts, he said.

“No offence – 400,000 tickets were sold, five shows were sold. Let those five shows be played, then fix the law,” he said.

If tomorrow ever comes for his Irish fans, it will not be Brooks who brings it. He put the matter squarely back with the Government and Dublin city officials to fix what he sees as a broken system.

For these gigs to happen Brooks needs friends in the highest places.