Quick, can you name a Garth Brooks song? Even one? Neither can I. But evidently 400.000 people on this very small island dropped everything a few months ago and stood in line overnight! (or was it two nights? or a week?) with the rain bucketing down! (or was it snow falling in great drifts? or both?) to get tickets to his concert. So many tickets that one concert turned to three turned to four turned to five.
Oh, whoops. Did anyone remember to get a permit? Well, sort of. The promoters did what promoters evindetly always do, sell the tickets first, then ask if it is okay. After all, the tickets always say, Subject to License, right?
Evidently someone named Brian, who lives in the Croke Park neighborhood, was fed up with not being able to get out of his driveway on concert evenings, and the free tickets (because clearly the entire Irish population along with half of Europe wants to attend a Garth Brooks concert, right?) the €500,000 that would go to the neighborhood (€500,000!) and various other incentives weren’t enough to dissuade him from filing an injunction.
Brian of course wasn’t alone. About 300 people live near the stadium and they were miffed that, after having held their collective noses (or ears) through three concerts by One Direction in May they were now expecting to brave the blocked driveways, the drunks urinating in their front gardens and the ambient noise from the stadium for five more evenings. The neighbors have a point: the Gaelic Athletic Association, which runs Croke Park, promised that they would be subject to no more than three ‘non-sporting events’ in any given year.
But wait! €500,000. That would buy the neighborhood one heck of a playground. So maybe now we (aka The Neighbors) want the three concerts originally scheduled, but not the two extra concerts so carelessly tacked on to the original number. Hmmm. What do the Garth Brooks people say? Well, they say, uh uh. It’s all (five concerts) or nothing (as in zero). Is this blackmail or is this Garth (we call him Garth now because, well, he loves the Irish so much, even the honorary ones) being sympathetic to the poor beleaguered fans who bought tickets for the two additional concerts (including an ex-pat from New Zealand whose sacrifice—a trip back home and no Garth Brooks concert to show for it) and now would have to sleep in their non-refundable hotel rooms in Temple Bar without even a concert to attend beforehand.
As the story grew, and grew, Garth Brooks and his comeback tour began to look more important than the second coming of the Beatles, even if it included the dead ones. Fans were gutted. Gutted! Pope Francis himself couldn’t have caused more consternation if he had scheduled a mass in Croke Park, then bailed because, well, he feared the Irish were a little too angry about certain lapses in their priesthood.
As the week wore on, and on (and on) the Garth Brooks story continued to occupy more air time than the cabinet reshuffle, the state of the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the World Cup combined. The Irish Minister in charge of this mess, having stated that his initial decision to limit the concerts to three (or maybe four) was irrevocable, put forth more and more arcane and clueless fixes for the mess. Garth could do his five concerts with the promise that Croke Park would hold no concerts in 2015. Or for two years. Or ever. Garth could do the three concerts, then come back a couple of years later (!) and finish them off, as if the man just showed up on the stage with a guitar and a mike and sang for a couple of hours. Or another brilliant idea! Garth could do two matinees and three evening concerts in three days. So wouldn’t this plan put 160,000 people on the Croke Park streets on the matinee days, not to mention needing double the hotel space, food, parking, beer? No matter, GB himself, in one of the more reasoned arguments produced so far, nixed the idea, as the show is designed for night viewing.
Garth finally held a press conference in Nashville, ostensibly to announce his world comeback tour, but in reality he used the time to chide the Irish government and bureaucracy, saying finally that he would swim, crawl or otherwise demean himself to the Prime Minister (the Prime Minister!) to resolve this issue so that he could just sing for his fans.
Well, maybe sing and show them a monster show using the largest video screen in the known world and several million dollars worth of pyrotechnics (although possibly not literal ones?) that were even as he speaks making their way to Ireland by ship. I’m not sure how the promise of spectacle beyond anything Ireland has ever seen will mollify Brian and his neighbors, but never mind, the concerts are off (right?) anyway.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister hasn’t exactly indicated he wouldn’t get involved, but it doesn’t matter because, wait for it, the Mexican Ambassador has offered to mediate, so all should be well. But some fans, or was it the hapless Minister who made the original, irrevocable, decision not to allow five concerts, contacted the White House (the White House!), evidently based on the understanding that O’Bama, having visited Moneygall a few years ago to check out his distant relatives, might now step up to resolve this international crisis. Obama (back to losing the apostrophe now that he has clearly repudiated his Irishness) declined to intervene, alas, leading one wag on RTE 1, the national radio station, to say that at least we know that the crisis would not be resolved by drone strikes.
Now well over a week into this debacle and something like two weeks away from the concerts there has been no resolution, and the soap opera just goes on and on. And on.