Belfast Telegraph

Garth Brooks: They queued for days in the cold and rain for tickets to see country star...

... but their smiles say it was all worth it!

BY AMANDA FERGUSON

He's the undisputed king of country.

Garth Brooks has entered the record books after selling an incredible 240,000 tickets for his five-night Croke Park comeback.

Thousands of country music fans across Northern Ireland were dusting off their stetsons last night after bagging a much-sought-after ticket for the US singer's run of July concerts.

The Grammy Award-winning star saw 240,000 tickets disappear in 90 minutes when they went on sale at 9am yesterday.

Event organiser Aiken Promotions said in 52 years of business, tickets for Brooks sold out faster than any other concert.

The scramble began almost a week ago when Brooks' fans began queuing outside music shops across the province.

They waited patiently in the cold and rain on the streets of Belfast, Dungannon, Magherafelt, Cookstown and elsewhere.

And the less hardy hit the internet and phone lines as tickets were made available yesterday.

The £54 (€65.45) passes for July 25 and 26 went on sale first thing yesterday, but demand was so high Aiken Promotions then announced a third date on July 27 – and it promptly sold out too.

Bob Doyle, Garth Brooks' manager, said the team was delighted with the record breaking sales

"We're thrilled," he said. "Peter Aiken, his team and Ticketmaster have done an amazing job."

Mr Aiken added: "In 52 years of business this is the fastest selling concert Aiken Promotions have ever been involved in."

Brooks, who has sold in excess of 128 million albums, flew into Dublin earlier this month to announce the Irish concert dates, his first at Croke Park since 1997.

The gigs are taking place ahead of his world tour.

The Belfast Telegraph caught up with a diverse range of fans of the Friends In Low Places singer at the Ticketmaster outlet in Belfast city centre yesterday.

Simeon Sheppy, a 25-year-old civil servant from Lisburn, managed to get through to a call centre while he was in the queue following an hour-and-a-half of trying.

On why he was keen to go, he said: "It's Garth Brooks. I've been a fan forever.

"My favourite song is probably River. I love it.

"Awh Garth Brooks. Keeping it gangsta!"

Civil servant David Francis (55), from Belfast, was sent down by his other half to make sure he got tickets for one of the nights.

"My wife is a Garth Brooks fan," he said. "We're going to go together. I like his music too."

Albums from the 51-year-old country star – who was recently inducted into the International Songwriters Hall of Fame – include No Fences, Ropin' The Wind, The Chase, In Pieces and Fresh Horses.

"People like him because there is nothing fancy about him," Mr Francis added.

"He has a very broad sort of appeal."

Danielle Warnock (35), from Belfast, tried to get tickets online and when that wasn't successful, hot-footed it into Belfast city centre to claim them in person.

"We couldn't get them online. There was six of us on computers and we couldn't get them.

"I have been a fan for as long as I can remember. I have so many favourites, like Papa Loved Mama and Lonesome Dove, and I will be expecting him to play them in Ireland. I think he just relates to everybody. He's great," she said.

But not everyone was lucky enough to get tickets.

"I'm absolutely heartbroken I didn't get Garth Brooks tickets," one woman wrote on Twitter.

Another added: "Two hours on-line and continuous calls to Ticketmaster, and I still didn't get tickets to Garth Brooks! Argh!"

... but touts quids in too as passes on sale for £500

It took just 90 minutes for 240,000 Garth Brooks tickets to get snapped up – but even less time for touts to get them up on online auction sites for significantly more than their face value.

Within minutes of going on sale yesterday morning, tickets for one of Brooks' three Croke Park gigs had sprung up on websites such as Gumtree and eBay.

Although worth £54, some were on offer for an eye-watering £500 each.

People who missed out on tickets were furious.

"Genuine fans kept out while touts sell for three times the price," one said on Twitter.

Dave Bailey, from Downpatrick, told the Belfast Telegraph: "It's ridiculous. You look at Gumtree and eBay and people are saying they bought tickets accidentally."

Event promoter Aiken Promotions said Brooks' July concerts were the fastest selling the company has been involved with since it began bringing music acts to Ireland in the 1960s.

It also advised people to "not purchase tickets from unofficial outlets".

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