Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Garth Brooks gig fiasco: Now some fans turn on singer

Star must bear part of the blame, fume concert-goers

Protesters outside the Dail at the weekend
Signs and banners in houses near Croke Park
Protesters outside the Dail at the weekend

The Garth Brooks Dublin concert debacle has tested the patience of those once devoted to the US country star and he is now facing an angry backlash.

The singer would appear to have some work to do to repair the fractured relationship with country music fans in Northern Ireland, who have been left unhappy and bewildered by the Croke Park gig fiasco.

Brooks had always insisted it was all or nothing after Dublin City Council granted event licences for only three of the five dates, and in a statement said he had a "broken heart" over the foul-up.

The delayed refund operation of £21m worth of gig tickets begins tomorrow after the singer confirmed that the comeback shows due to run at GAA headquarters later this month will definitely not go ahead.

The scrapping of the concerts comes after all avenues of compromise over the impasse were finally exhausted.

Among the 400,000 let-down fans is Belfast PR account director Fiona Brown, who had been looking forward to the Dublin concert.

She described the gigs cancellation as "an absolute joke".

"If he announced more I'm not sure I would go," she added.

Chris Smith from Antrim told the Belfast Telegraph that Dublin City Council and Aiken Promotions had to accept their share of the blame for Brooks not returning to Croke Park nearly 16 years after he last played sell-out concerts at the venue.

"I did think at the start it was just a stunt to build up hype and was still happy to go, but the longer it dragged on I got fed up with it being on-off-on-off and honestly just want a refund, which is due on Thursday," he said.

"I'm fortunate I won't be out any money but others are not so lucky. I sympathise with them.

"I think Garth, the promoters Aiken and Dublin council jointly deserve blame as they all contributed to this fiasco."

Patricia McClean from Armoy, who had four computers running at the same time during her successful bid to secure tickets, said she was saddened by the cancellation of the gigs.

"I am disappointed, but it's one of those things," she said. "I don't really know who to blame.

"Some of the time I think Garth Brooks was right to say all five shows or nothing, but the tickets were sold on a first-come, first-served basis so maybe they should have gone ahead with the three shows."

Pamela Kelly from Portglenone said confusion reigns and unscrupulous ticket touts are taking advantage. "I see a few of the buy and sell pages on Facebook have ones trying to sell their tickets and conning people by telling them the concerts are still going ahead," she said. "That is just disgusting behaviour."

Fans from across Ireland have been left out of pocket, as have those who were due to travel from further afield.

In February Brooks superfan Manny Joshi from Walsall near Birmingham told this newspaper that Brooks "couldn't choose a better place to start his comeback", but last night she was upset her planned family trip to Dublin and Belfast has been cancelled and she is out of pocket to the tune of £700.

"The man we booked accommodation from said he is not prepared to refund us," she said.

"Thankfully we hadn't booked flights yet, but it's the emotional damage too. I can't understand why tickets were sold when it wasn't definite. Garth is right, it wouldn't be fair to let down fans. He looked so upset at the Press conference last week."

How events unfolded in a shambolic saga

January 20: Garth Brooks announces his return to Croke Park for two nights in July as part of his comeback tour.

January 30: Around 240,000 tickets for three dates sell out in just 90 minutes. Tickets went on sale at 9am for two concerts on July 25 and 26. A third date went on sale at 9.30am due to demand – and also sold out.

January 31: Tickets for the sold-out gigs are being flogged on eBay for up to £500 each.

February 6: A fourth and fifth date quickly sell out.

February 7: It emerges Croke Park has yet to ask authorities for permission to host any of Brooks' summer concerts.

Meanwhile, disgruntled residents in the Croke Park vicinity say they were not consulted over the extra dates.

February 14: Residents reveal they are considering legal action against the organisers over the likely disruption.

March 6: Amid a growing row between residents and organisers, the GAA asks the chief executive of the Labour Relations Commission to chair mediation talks.

July 1: Dublin City Council says it has received about 370 submissions from residents about the licence application.

July 3: The council grants permission for just three of the concerts, saying five shows would cause "an unacceptable level of disruption". Promoter Peter Aiken says he is hopeful but not optimistic all five will go ahead. Garth Brooks warns it is five shows or none at all.

July 4: A decision to refuse permission for two of the gigs cannot be reversed, Dublin City Council says.

July 5: Peter Aiken says moving the concert dates or venues is not an option.

July 8: All five concerts are cancelled. Aiken Promotions says it is with "great regret" that it has to make the announcement, adding that it has "exhausted all avenues".

July 9: The Garth Brooks fiasco reaches leaders' questions in the Dail.

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