So, the news has just broke that country-pop superstar and apparent one-man economic stimulus package Garth Brooks has decided that the cash-in he was offered from a willing fanbase, that queued up for days in some cases and doubled occurrences of carpal tunnel syndrome refreshing their browsers, wasn’t good enough. After having two shows pulled owing to the objections of residents who have better things to do than have their front yards pissed in, the man himself issued an ultimatum that it was all the money he was initially offered, or he’d find some other backwoods to warm up for his impending world tour in. And when the local authorities did their job, he had a tantrum and pulled his show, resulting in 400,000 disappointed ticket-holders, an almighty situation to consider regardless of your own musical politics.
Online commentators have already been stockpiling popcorn for a few days in preparation for this, so your writer may as well throw in his few cents.
1: The argument that this country is made to look bad in the eyes of the international community because of this incident is a misnomer.
We looked bad to the rest of the world about a year back, when a five-night nostalgia show for a glorified karaoke singer in the country’s largest stadium was considered economically viable, much less able to sell 400,000 tickets. Music tastes being subjective and such, the preceding statement is open for argument, but it’s astounding that so many people that work hard in honest jobs and save every penny they earn would shell out the amount of money asked for an “artist” that would just insult them with the same setlist as likely a great many of them saw the last time he was here. And I say setlist, because he can’t get credit for the “great live show” he apparently puts on, because that’s down to his session musicians, stage crew, roadies and other personnel working around him. Escapism value for core fans aside, there’s no call for artists to be lazy, whether they’re Garth Brooks or the Pixies, and rehash old glories for another few quick bucks. We live in a world where the next great artist is only ever a click or an informed blogger away, and the old reliables would do well to remember this.
2: The residents were one-hundred percent, absolutely correct.
While a large portion of the online commentariat have vented their little spleens and decried the residents of the Croke Park area for being greedy, anti-social, etc., the fact is these are people with kids to put to bed, cars to park outside, and lives to conduct. An agreement was made to restrict it to three shows a year, and the GAA used them up on One Direction. Tough titties. Small-venue promoters don’t get exceptions when a big name comes their way and they still have to put shows on in an early timeslot because of noise pollution; why should big promoters get the same leeway? The residents are simply asking the other party in an agreement that affects their lives to honour the deal. Good on ’em.
3: The man turned down what must have been several planes’ worth of money because he didn’t get five consecutive stadium shows in one venue.
An artist that cared in any way about the fans that queued and clicked, begged, stole and borrowed to get a ticket, would aim for a peaceable resolution with venues, promoters, and such. Rescheduled for other stadia, bookended his world tour, anything. That he issued a little ultimatum and got called on it is his own damn fault and he got what he had coming to him as a result.
And trust me, if it reads like gloating, it’s really not: nobody wins. Fans, casual music consumers or not, lose their big day out, including disabled, vulnerable and elderly fans who suffer terribly without these things to look forward to. Non-fans have to put up with the weeks and weeks of fallout from the whole thing in media and discourse. The promoters and venue lose a ton of money in advances, equipment, etc. etc. The businesses around the area lose their big payday, which could have been staggered had an agreement been reached, from the hotels to the bootleggers. And the biggest loser of all? Garth Brooks, for being a child and stamping his feet when he didn’t get his way, now looks less of a superstar and more like the villain for this whole escapade. Think of this the next time your family members lose their shit over him being announced for Irish shows years in advance.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to delete any mention of this whole thing off my social media. Mike McGrath Bryan