Friday 26 December 2014

Stage was set for a spectacular dance, now fans face heartbreak

Emma Jane Hade

Published 05/07/2014 | 02:30

Garth Brooks at Croke Park
Garth Brooks at Croke Park
Residents Laura Castano and Casandra Vela

IT all started out so promisingly. Following the press conference that announced his Croke Park reign, Garth Brooks walked around the massive stadium and surveyed his concert kingdom.

The American country singer arrived in Ireland on January 20 this year, and Garth fever gripped the country as concert promoters Aiken announced he would take to the stage on the hallowed turf for a string of dates in July.

In the hours that followed, the 52-year-old and his team discussed plans for the concert with representatives from Aiken.

He then trekked around the stadium and observed the different views the audience would have of the stage.

"Garth Brooks chatted through lots of ideas he had regarding staging and how the show should look," the promoters said in a statement last night.

"He then went to the various levels of Croke Park and took photos of where the stage would be plotted. The team then generated several 3D images of how the show would look from each of the different locations."

Hysteria reigned supreme as the panic over obtaining tickets for the two gigs that were announced first set in.

They sold out in a matter of minutes, and promoters added a third date a short time later, and soon a fourth and fifth date followed suit.

Sleeping bags were rolled out and hundreds of fans queued outside Ticketmaster outlets overnight in a bid to nab a ticket.

Work behind the scenes continued, and the team that was tasked with making the singer's dream stage a reality then spent days working to incorporate his ideas into the concert plans and drafts were sent back and forth between the two parties.

Representatives then travelled to Nashville, where his management team is based, and a second meeting was held and further details were added.

"Further/final meetings were held in Croke Park with the crew and show designers, and in the following weeks show plans were finalised," the statement continued.

Aiken Promotions said that throughout this lengthy process they had been in contact with Dublin City Council "and other statutory agencies".

On July 1, a cargo ship left the US with 18 trucks packed with the stage and equipment for the shows. The singer was set and ready to go.

Fans who have been waiting 17 years for the artist to return were then heartbroken as the authorities announced earlier in the week that permission was being granted for just three dates.

It was set to be an extravagant affair, and the last time Oklahoma's favourite son stood on an Irish stage was in the very same stadium in 1997. The three sellout shows were complete with a 65-foot stage, and two helicopters were part of the performance.

The star said that footage from those three dates was among his favourite to look at, adding: "The people were so perfect in the crowd."

Concert organiser Peter Aiken revealed that this year's shows were set to be nothing short of spectacular. Brooks was very precise about what he wanted.

"You've got to remember that this show is specifically what he wanted to put in, specifically designed for Croke Park. It would blow your mind," he said.

It might well do - but only if Irish fans get to see it.

Irish Independent

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