Tuesday 25 October 2016

Garth's sell-out shows mean five chances to party like it's 1994

Brooks is who we secretly want to be: a good ol' boy with millions in the bank

Published 09/02/2014 | 02:30

Garth Brooks at Croke Park
Garth Brooks at Croke Park
Delighted: Fans Eimear Jordan and Sarah Kidd

'YOU just know that Leo Varadkar will be pictured on the front of the Times there, drinking from a plastic pint glass."

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Thus tweeted the excellent Man In The Black Pyjamas last weekend, when just four Garth Brooks concerts had been confirmed.

There can be no doubt now, that by the time the Big G arrives in July, we will be witnessing such tremendous levels of eejitry breaking out in so many ways, we will indeed be deep into that territory where we find a minister on the front page in smart casual, brandishing a warm beer like an actual person.

It came without warning, this latest eruption. But then we never know exactly when we, as a people, are ready to release these ungovernable energies. We only know it when it is done, and we stand there in awe of ourselves.

Here we are now, in the mind's eye, on the road to Croke Park wearing that Stetson and that chop-me-down-a-tree shirt and the Garth Brooks belt-buckle with a chrome finish, and those cowboy boots, with the spurs – yes, for some there will be spurs – and we just can't help it.

In fact, in that costume we have never felt so free.

There are echoes, too, of that crazy love that we lavish on certain artists, whereby they become so successful in Ireland they need hardly bother with the rest of the world – David Gray has been there, and Chris Rea before him, and even in a way Bruce Springsteen. There was that weird outbreak during which 'The Boss' seemed to be playing most nights last summer at a GAA ground, for anyone who may have missed out on the first 35 years of his career.

With Garth there is also a race memory stretching back to when he first landed in Ireland, during the Nineties. Back then, Paddy himself was starting to take off in all directions, qualifying for World Cups and electing women to be President and realising that you didn't necessarily need to be rich already in order to make money without working – it had started to dawn on him that maybe there was nothing more to it than reading the property pages and making a few phone calls.

Perhaps in Garth Brooks he saw the man he would most like to be, the cowboy with a good heart and a hundred million bucks stuffed into his boots, who told Paddy that "life is not tried, it is merely survived, if you're standing outside the fire".

And sure enough, no more would we stand outside the fire – any fire. No more would life be untried, would we merely survive.

Garth was the good ol' boy to the bad ol' boy played in the national psyche during the Eighties by JR Ewing. If JR was effectively the founding father of modern Ireland, his inheritance went to Garth.

And then things got a little complicated for Garth, as they did for all of us. He got divorced, he tried to become a baseball player.

Paddy, too, was starting to make a few wrong moves, trying to diversify his portfolio, as it were – the mere fact that he could now speak without inhibition about diversifying his portfolio was itself a wrong move.

In his own way he too was getting divorced and trying to become a baseball player. It was never going to end well.

So we're going back to 1994 again to give it one more try because hell, we need one another.

And if we've learned anything at all, between then and now, it is this – all things considered, maybe you're better off standing outside the fire after all.

Irish Independent

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