Garth Brooks rules out doing five Croke Park shows over three days

Dublin City Council had said it would allow two matinees to make up for gigs not granted licence


Country music star Garth Brooks has ruled out the possibility of playing matinee shows for 160,000 fans who would lose out from the cancellation of two of his five proposed shows at Croke Park.

He was responding to the decision of Dublin City Council and Aiken Promotions, the promoter of the Irish shows, to leave open a compromise option of performing the five shows over three days with two of the shows running as afternoon matinee performances.

The compromise was proposed after Brooks adopted an all-or-nothing approach, saying he would only perform the agreed five shows or none at all as he did not want to cancel on 160,000 fans.

“To treat 160,000 people differently than all the rest who will be seeing the show the way it was meant and created is wrong,” said Brooks’s publicist Nancy Seltzer after a press conference in Nashville in response to the compromise deal.

“He does not understand why it is once again put upon him to treat people less than they deserve to be treated and he still returns to why did they allow five shows to be sold and all these people to be disappointed.

“It is not his decision; it is, with the greatest of respect, the city council.”

The council last week refused permission for the two concerts planned for July 28th and 29th due to fears of noise, traffic disruption, illegal parking and “potential antisocial behaviour”.

It said the “scale, magnitude and number” of concerts, with an expected attendance of in excess of 80,000 people per night over five consecutive nights, three of them being week nights, was “unprecedented” for the Croke Park stadium.

Aiken Promotions, which suggested the matinee option, tonight said the proposal “will not be feasible”.

Brooks told reporters at the press conference that the show was specially designed for a night-time performance at Croke Park.

“I don’t want to give them a half-assed show. I want to give them everything Garth Brooks has,” he said.

The council’s plan, which had also been agreed with gardaí, would have seen the concerts go ahead as planned on Friday July 25th, Saturday July 26th and Sunday July 27th with matinees on the last two days. This would still comply with the terms of the council’s licence.

“It will be a matter for Aiken Promotions and Garth Brooks to decide if they wish to pursue this suggestion,” the council said in a statement.

Brooks, a record-setting solo artist, said he was willing to meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny this weekend to find a way of playing the proposed five night-time sold-out concerts to 400,000 people.

“If the prime minister himself wants to talk to me, I will crawl, swim; I will fly over there this weekend and sit in front of him,” he said.

“I will drop on my knees and beg for those 400,000 people to just let them have fun and let them come see [the shows].”

Brooks criticised Dublin City Council’s planning rules around concerts where tickets can be sold in advance and then the concerts can be cancelled because they have not met the licensing laws.

“Create your laws, create your guidelines but don’t sell the show to people and get their hopes up and that you are just going to cancel on them and that is okay,” he said.

“That is not okay for me and I don’t agree that that is the way to treat people.”

He ruled out performing in Ireland until the country’s planning rules were fixed.

“I don’t think you can talk about a future with Ireland until Ireland has a system that works. No offence - 400,000 tickets were sold, five shows were sold. Let those five shows be played, then fix the law,” he said.

Brooks described himself as “shocked” and “dumbfounded” and having been under a “dark cloud” for the last 10 days over the decision of Dublin City Council to permit only three of his five concerts.

“It is a day of joy. I am not going to be lying with everything that has been going on for the last 10 days it is also under a cloud now,” he said.

Dublin City Council tonight said it was satisfied that the event licensing procedure was “applied correctly in this particular case” and that the decision to only allow three concerts was “appropriate and balanced having regard to all the competing interests”.

“However, in response to the disappointment of ticket holders who purchased tickets in good faith for the cancelled Monday and Tuesday concerts and in light of concerns that these ticket holders could turn up on the other days creating security and public safety concerns the council has agreed, following consultation with An Garda Síochána, to consider a revised event management plan.

The cancellation of the Dublin concerts, which were to be the first in a comeback world tour, overshadowed Mr Brooks’s much-anticipated return to the music scene after a prolonged period away from extensive touring and recording.

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

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

He compared his comeback show to Elvis Presley’s famous Comeback Special, saying that he wanted it to take place somewhere special.

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

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 that 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 integrity of the Irish people so that is why we have spent so much time for this and this is why this dark cloud sits over us,” he said.

Brooks said he would announce the opening date and new location of the first show of his world tour on July 14th by contacting a fan who had asked him a question at a recent Las Vegas show.

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