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Garth Brooks on the skyline of Croke Park today. Alamy Stock Photo
Didn't miss the pain

Garth Brooks returns to Dublin and says cancellation of 2014 gigs was like a 'death in the family'

The country music superstar is confirmed to play at least two Dublin concerts next September.

LAST UPDATE | 22 Nov 2021

SEVEN YEARS AFTER plans for a handful of Croke Park gigs created a summer-long saga, Garth Brooks is in Dublin today for a press conference about next September’s concerts at GAA headquarters.

After months of rumours, it was confirmed last week that the top-selling solo artist in US history will play Croke Park on 9 and 10 September.

Togging out at the Drumcondra stadium today, the country music superstar said the cancellation of the five gigs in 2014 was like a “death in the family”.

“It’s still very fresh. It’s like something I’ve never experienced. And one of those things where you go, ‘surely this isn’t going this way, right?’ So, it was one of those things that was a little hard to understand,” Brooks said.

Dublin City Council granted approval for five dates at the start of this month.

When asked whether he’d like to play all five gigs at today’s media event, Brooks quipped: “I’d like to do five, but I’d also like to be six foot five and have abs.”

He added that the amount of ticket sales required to fill all five shows is “impossible”.

The 2014 ‘debacle’

The ‘Friends in low places’ singer sold out five nights in 2014 but cancelled all the shows after planning for all five was not granted.

The Journal asked the country superstar if he was made aware of the debacle in 2014, and becoming emotional, he explained what a “heartache” it was for him to have walk away from the shows.

What happened in 2014 was a frickin miracle. I mean, who does numbers like that, right? So, you’ve got 400,000 Hard tickets in one city, one show. It’s impossible. There’s no way we’re gonna do that number again. There’s just no way. 

He said he jumped at the chance when told he could come back.

Garth also didn’t rule out doing smaller gigs when he comes to Ireland next year, but the Croke Park shows are the only ones announced so far.

While he stated he thought it would be impossible to pull off the five nights again, he added that he would like to “close that circle” if possible, perhaps leaving the door open for more performances.

“We’re lucky enough that this is the exact same people that were lucky enough to get to play here in Croke Park in the late 90s,” he said.

“What was meant to start this whole thing [The Garth Brooks Stadium Tour] is now going to be where this whole thing ends. And if there is a blessing in that curse of what happened in 2014, it’s the fact that there is a chance that this artist, and those people that were sweet enough to get those tickets before, now have a chance to hopefully see each other again. It’s the greatest privilege and the greatest joy an artist can have to play Ireland. It’s the greatest heartache to be told you can’t,” he added.

He told reporters that he likes that even after the 2014 “debacle”, things could be figured out, saying that “where I’m from, we might not let that dog lie, it might be something that forever splits us apart, but Ireland is empathetic, sympathetic”. 

Brooks added that playing in Ireland “is the greatest privilege” for any performer, but it’s the “greatest heartache to be told you can’t', he added. 

What happened “hurt, hurt, hurt”, adding that it was “hard to understand” what had happened, and why nothing could be done. 

Brooks said he was told he had to choose between what shows would be dropped, but making that choice wasn’t how he was raised, he told the media.

“We either all win together or we all lose together,” he said, stating “I couldn’t find a fair way to do it”.

His love for the Irish audience

When asked why he loves the Irish audience so much, he said he couldn’t explain it, but that there is an “sincerity” about the Irish crowds. While he said a musician can go from city to city to perform, he finds there is something special when he arrives in Ireland, calling it “home” multiple times during today’s press conference.

Brooks said when he was last in Ireland, fans were hanging from windows welcoming him, telling reporters he would think “this has to be a put on, right? No body does this. It is so sweet… that’s what I love about this place”, he said.

“This is a joy for me to be here,” he said, stating he predicts he will just cry for the majority of his gig in Croke Park next year. 

country-music-star-garth-brooks-on-the-roof-of-croke-park-in-dublin-to-promote-his-two-irish-concerts-which-will-take-place-next-september-picture-date-monday-november-22-2021 Garth Brooks walking along the skyline of Croke Park today following his press conference for his two shows next September. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The singer said when he returns to Ireland next year he would love to attend an All Ireland final. He plans to travel around Ireland with his country music star wife Trisha Yearwood following the shows, said Brooks.

On Covid, he said he is fully vaccinated and fully masked, but he hopes it will be a bit more “free” next year. “I sure would love not to have to cancel anymore shows,” he said. 

When asked about the Taoiseach Micheál Martin stating that he would like to see Brooks play in Cork and whether that might be a possibility, he said once he was told he could play Croke Park that is all he can think about it. 

He is aware of a lot of people in the entertainment industry out of work because of the pandemic. 

“Who did we miss in the last two years that never got to lift off,” he asked, telling reporters that it will have an impact on what music we get to hear in the future. 

“Our actions will depict the future, so be wise, be loving and let’s try and do it all together,” he said.

Tickets for the concerts, so far the only European dates he’s set to play next year, will go on sale on Thursday at 8am.

In September this year, reports emerged that Brooks’ team were applying for a licence to play at the Dublin stadium.

The Council had initially only granted approval for concerts on 9, 10, and 11 September 2022.

It received an application for two more outdoor concerts on 16 and 17 September, which were also granted to promoter Aiken Promotions.

So far, the two gigs on 9 and 10 September are the only ones officially announced.

With reporting by Christina Finn 

Christina Finn & Céimin Burke
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