Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Garth Brooks Fiasco

The proposed Garth Brooks concerts have been attracting a great many headlines over the past few weeks, for all the wrong reasons. 400,000 people have been left devastated by the unfortunate turn of events, whereby Brooks cancelled all 5 of the planned concerts. What caused this turn of events?

Aiken Productions were the ones organising the concerts. The original plans were for only two concerts, though an extra date was added due to demand, followed swiftly by a fourth and a fifth concert. The problem, however, was that the tickets were sold "subject to license," meaning that Dublin City Council had not actually approved of the extra dates, and could, and eventually, would, cancel the concerts. However, the application was dated 16th April 2014, while tickets went on sale around mid-January. In that case, regardless of how many concerts there would have been, either two or five, Dublin City Council could still stop the shows. The biggest problem in this situation was the fact that Aiken Productions could begin selling tickets three months before even applying for a license.

The GAA is also somewhat guilty. As shown when they stopped a sixth show due to a match fixture, they could have stopped the fourth and fifth shows from going ahead as well. This is especially important when you consider that the GAA own Croke Park, and would have been aware that the a maximum of three shows had been agreed with residents, and that these three slots had already been filled by One Direction. The fact that they allowed a total of eight potential gigs illustrates the lack of respect the GAA seemingly has for the residents around Croke Park, and for agreements made with said residents.

The residents have a good case against the concerts. The area in which they live becomes completely locked down during matches and gigs, restricting their freedom. There are also fears of disorderly or drunken behaviour and littering. Finally, the noise levels in the area would, at the very least, be very annoying. However, there is another side to the residents' case. Firstly, many businesses in the area would welcome the Garth Brooks concerts with open arms. Also, the residents don't seem to be united in their aims. They protested against the concerts when five concerts were announced, but when Brooks made the statement that it would be five or none, another group started a campaign for the concerts to go ahead. In my opinion, the residents who were against the concerts held the minority view, but still achieved their aims. If that is the case, then are we a democratic country? But I digress.

The Government then became involved. Our Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, ruled out emergency legislation that would allow the concerts to go ahead. In hindsight, this was probably the only thing that could have saved the concerts. The Minister for Tourism, Leo Varadkar, then said that he was willing to go so far as to travel to the US in order to resolve the situation. The sad truth is, though, this was a totally futile gesture, as if a resolution could not be obtained without travelling, there was little to be gained from Minister Varadkar going to the US, presumably putting the flight on expenses. Again, however, I digress.

Garth Brooks himself made the statement that it would be five concerts or none. Someone made the comment last night on the News, I can't remember quite who, but essentially he claimed that Brooks was being selfish and childish for not accepting the three concerts that had been licensed. That may be so, but on the other hand, Brooks was showing his commitment to all his fans with the statement. It is quite odd though, when you consider that originally only two concerts had been planned, it then escalated to five, but then when only three were licensed Brooks refused to only do three gigs, despite it being more than had been planned in the beginning. In a statement today, Brooks cancelled the gigs, finally bring closure to this fiasco.

Honestly I believe that all parties are at fault to some extent. I only feel sorry for all the people who bought tickets for the concerts, some of them camping for several days in preparation. In this sorry story, they are the real victims. From now on, any artist of Garth Brooks' stature will be highly cautious in any plans to come to Ireland, based on how this debacle was handled. As has already been noted several times, the Irish economy will suffer somewhat, as a result of losing €50 million in revenue. Our international reputation, particularly that of our being a welcoming people is also likely to suffer, as we hardly showed ourselves to be very welcoming to Garth Brooks.

If you have any comments, feel free to leave them below.