Wednesday 22 May 2019

Caitlin McBride: Can we please stop talking about Garth Brooks now?

Garth Brooks: will play none of his planned Croke Park concerts
Garth Brooks: will play none of his planned Croke Park concerts

Garth Brooks is no more than a memory now.

Do you know how hard it is to come up with an original Garth Brooks pun these days?

All the good ones are taken as Twitter-ers and sub-editors throughout the country try to outdo one another's witty remarks with the next hot comment.

Last night, as Brazil were slaughtered by Germany in the World Cup semi-final, more than a few clever folks on Twitter seemed to point out the shared element of Germany scoring five goals (this was before the second half massacre).

'Sure didn't Garth cancel FIVE concerts too? I bet nobody else has thought of this.'

The first few were original with the just the right amount of sarkiness. But after just 10 minutes it became exhausting.

RTE even closed their World Cup panel coverage with 'The Dance' by the man himself, an indication of just how important the state broadcaster feels this moment is in the national consciousness of the Irish people.

I was initially shocked at the fandemonium which overtook Ireland when his concerts were initially announced by Aiken promotions in February.

And the subsequent barrage of stories of his dedicated fans preparing to descend on Dublin for the 'gig of a lifetime' was also an eye-opener for me.

My Facebook feed was full of both men and women in their 20s queueing up all night, in some cases, for more than 24 hours, to ensure their tickets to the gig of the year.

Not that I'm under any illusion that I have good taste in music, but 'I'm not that bad' I told myself.

Now the tables have turned.

Not since the Election have I seen an agenda so dominated by one topic, and to clarify, this has not been dictated by news editors.

The appetite for Garth Brooks information is so high that every story mentioning GB's name on has contributed to some record traffic.

In the last week, we've experienced an intricate web of twists and turns - including the overshadowing of Joan Burton's long-awaited election as Labour leader - for updates about a concert.

Aiken promotions owner Peter Aiken even made a dramatic 4,000 mile trip to Nashville to meet the man himself face-to-face to try and salvage something out of the genuine PR disaster it had become.

Undoubtedly, the blow to the Irish economy is nothing short of scandalous - a purported €15m in hospitality alone, while Ticketmaster have to forfeit an estimated €3m in their service charges and Aiken's loss is, presumably, incomparable.

The news agenda has been dominated across platforms with 'Brooksgate', from a political, economical and entertainment points of view - how the cancellation of a set of gigs has impacted our people on a national level, and, in some cases, an international level.

An estimated 70,000 people had booked flights and accommodation from around the world to see his first concert in 15 years kick off in Croke Park.

In the last few hours alone, the rhetoric has shifted from the blame game of the GAA vs Croke Park residents vs Aiken vs Garth Brooks to a new finger pointing method of the 'good guys' versus the 'bad guys'.

Morans and Bewleys Hotels yesterday said, almost immediately after the official cancellation was announced, that they would refund would-be hotel goers of their deposits. Irish Rail will also reimburse customers who purchased rail tickets specifically for the occasion(s).

But what about those who won't?

The hospitality industry saw a massive payday in the very near future and punters surely penny pinched to afford to spend all this money.

And there is no clear line of right or wrong in this situation as it's entirely unprecedented.

Peter Aiken, in good faith, booked Croke Park for the original three nights to play.

Due to phenomenal demand, two further nights were subsequently added.

Dublin City Council should be able to alter specific regimes at their discretion and accommodate something of this magnitude that would so positively  impact Ireland's economy and international value.

Now, the mood has also shifted against Garth Brooks himself, who, let's face it, after this debacle, is hardly in a rush to perform in Ireland anytime soon.

He originally told Newstalk that he 'would play 100 gigs' here if he could. Talk about putting the cart before the horse.

He is now planning a live web stream press conference tomorrow and unless he plans on hosting the 400,000 devastated folks set for Croker at home in Nashville, I don't care. It will likely be the latest chapter in the blame game.

I was sick of it in my newsfeed back in February and I certainly am now.

Online Editors

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