herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

AN emergency plan to rescue the five Garth Brooks concerts has been rejected by the singer as he offered to fly to meet the Taoiseach to resolve the controversy.

'I will crawl, swim, fly over there to solve this. I will fall on my knees and beg'

AN emergency plan to rescue the five Garth Brooks concerts has been rejected by the singer as he offered to fly to meet the Taoiseach to resolve the controversy.

A proposal of two afternoon concerts on July 26 and 27 - to take place hours before the licensed sell-out concerts - was put to Brooks following an intensive day of discussions in Dublin.

However, Brooks is insistent that he will only proceed with the events on the dates they were scheduled - beginning two weeks from today.

Aiken Promotions said the proposal to hold two matinees was not feasible.

The Herald has learned that a source close to yesterday's discussions 
described the suggestion as being preposterous and stupid.

"How do you empty the stadium after the afternoon concert? What if people refuse to leave and wait for the second concert?" the source said. "Do you bring in the riot police?"

planning

Now the only option left on the table to save the concerts is emergency legislation to change the planning laws - but this was ruled out last night by Taoiseach Enda Kenny as Brooks asked him to overrule a decision made by Dublin city chief Owen Keegan to licence three of the five sold out concerts.

"It's not a case of the political process jumping in on the legislation here. Mr Keegan made his decision in accordance in the law and his responsibilities," Mr Kenny said.

The Herald has learned that Brooks stands to lose almost €4m if the sell out concerts do not go ahead.

In Nashville, Brooks said he wants all fans to enjoy the same experience over five nights in Dublin.

"I don't have a clue how we got here. All I know is that the powers that can fix it are not here," Brooks said.

"It is a simple yes, open it up for five nights, let everybody have fun, then go to work.

"I'll never let it happen again if you want - create your laws, create your guidelines but don't sell a show to 
people and get their hopes up.

"It is not okay for me. I don't agree that is the way to treat people.

"If the Prime Minister himself wants to talk to me I will crawl, swim, I will fly over there this weekend, sit in front of him, I will drop on my knees and beg for those 400,000 people to just have fun and let them come sing," he told a packed press conference.

"The system should be looking at itself, saying we have flaws and this is how it is done.

"You have a gentleman over there that is in a certain political position that has made his decision - with all kinds of respect - and he is standing by that decision.

"My question is let this gentleman do his job but there should be somebody above this gentleman that can walk over and go 'You've done your job, now I'm telling you, you're going to allow these people to get to come and sing and have a great time."

An offer last night to have two matinee concerts was officially rejected by Brooks, the Herald can confirm.

"We don't treat people different. So now what do I do with 160,000 people and why are they treated different then the 240,000 people.

"The statement was Garth with a simple 'yes' you can make 240,000 people happy and my statement back is with a simple 'yes' you can make 400,000 people happy."

He said the Dublin concerts as part of his comeback tour following 13 years of semi-retirement was set to be massive.

"I can tell that Ireland doesn't know what is coming so I'm afraid I'm going to have to give a little bit of the show away here. It is 255ft wide, 20ft tall, that is just the video screen," he said.

"I don't want to disappoint them, so we are bringing superman to the show. But this isn't a show you can pick up and move, it is a one-time only thing."

preparations

Brooks said a "dark cloud" hangs over his comeback tour. Last week, Mr Keegan announced that only three of the five concerts could proceed.

Brooks said the licensing issues were never highlighted to him at any stage during the preparations for the Croke Park gigs.

"At no time when the 400,000 tickets were announced did anyone go 'Whoa, whoa, wait.'

"So no, not until you heard the news, I probably heard it after you.

"The Irish have my love forever whether I ever play there again or not, is not the question," he said. "If somebody comes up to me today and asks me where do I take my kids? I'd say: 'Ireland, it is beautiful'."

Ticketmaster are set to refund all 400,000 Garth Brooks fans from Tuesday morning as Dublin businesses brace themselves for the fallout in what should have been the most profitable week of the year.

jfegan@herald.ie

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