News Comment

Saturday 20 September 2014

400,000 reasons why big acts may not want to have a Dublin stopover

Published 09/07/2014 | 02:30

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Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton

The report that flashed around the world on the Associated Press newswire yesterday afternoon summed it up pithily: "Like an ill-fated romance in a country song, Garth Brooks and Dublin just weren't meant to be."

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The country crooner's fans probably wept while his detractors gloated with unseemly glee, but whatever one's attitude there is no doubt that the cancellation of five concerts at Croke Park will leave a collective hole in Dublin's pocket.

It is not just the estimated €50m loss to the economy caused by the decision of Brooks to cancel all five concerts (or as some might justly argue, throw his toys out of the pram).

If foreign stars and their agents are following the farcical story of the sale of 400,000 tickets to fans for five gigs – many of whom are coming from abroad – and the subsequent refusal of a licence for two of them, they may think twice about Dublin.

Why not fly over Ireland to Manchester, Cardiff or Edinburgh and let the Irish fans go there? Who needs the hassle?

The reputation of the capital as a venue for other large scale international events – from sports tournaments to conferences – may also be questioned.

Seasoned event organisers abroad might wonder how 400,000 tickets could be sold before an event even has a licence.

The news of a ship load of concert gear being dispatched and then having to change course will have done nothing to inspire confidence in our capital as the place to kick off a global tour.

We flatter ourselves if we think that the spotlight was on Ireland yesterday as the rest of the world made a collective sigh at our inability to organise five concerts. It was perhaps fortunate that the rest of the world was more interested in the World Cup.

But news travels fast in the entertainment industry. The denouement of this particular farce could discourage big acts from turning Dublin into the centrepiece of their tour.

They may believe that an Irish audience gives the right kind of atmosphere for the start of a tour, and as in the case of Brooks, the film of the concert. But they will not want to be faced with the bureaucratic nightmare that resulted in five shows being called off.

And what of the foreign fans who decided that Dublin was the place to see Garth? They may have saved a week's wages to see their Stetson-wearing hero belting out his old hits with tens of thousands of other worshippers. They booked flights and hotels.

But will they choose Dublin next time, if the artist is Dolly Parton or Michael Buble, or if there is a Six Nations rugby match, when they have been so badly let down?

Irish Independent

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