Brook’ of the Irish | 

Garth Brooks: Croke Park is ready as fans gear up for five night Dublin spectacular

‘Superstar Garth promised his band they would finish massive tour in Ireland’

Garth Brooks will kick off his shows on Friday©

Garth says Croker is a special place for him

Kent Blazy with the crew

Guitarist Gordon Kennedy

Behind the scenes with Kent Blazy

Eddie RowleySunday World

Garth Brooks mania will explode in Ireland on Friday when the American country superstar performs the first of five nights at Dublin’s Croke Park after the disappointment of the 2014 debacle.

With 400,000 Garth fans primed for the show of their lives, none of the people in the stadium will be more excited than the sensational performer himself.

In a new Virgin Media TV documentary, Garth Brooks – Coming Home, his Grammy award-winning guitarist Gordon Kennedy reveals that when the Friends In Low Places singer started what will be his final stadium tour three years ago in America, he told his crew that it would finish in Ireland.

The mammoth tour of arenas and stadiums was set to kick off at Croker in 2014, but when the five shows were cancelled amid a licensing row, a devastated Brooks decided to let the dust settle and, hopefully, finish with a run of shows at the historic GAA venue.

Next weekend Garth’s Irish dream will come to life after he got a second shot at playing five nights for his fans from at home and abroad who snapped up tickets when a licence was secured for the unprecedented new string of concerts.

Garth says Croker is a special place for him

“I wasn’t in the band that was headed to Ireland in 2014 when those boats got turned around and brought the gear back,” Gordon says, referring to the cancellation of the five Croker concerts as the massive custom-built stage was being shipped across the Atlantic to Ireland.

“I will tell you this, I know him well enough to know that for him to do that, whatever would cause him to disappoint fans would have to be such a violation of his principles and his heart and his determination to do the right thing by people, and it must have been a very difficult thing for him.

Kent Blazy with the crew

“I remember being in his dressing room before one of the shows in 2019, where he said, ‘We’re gonna do these (American concerts) for three years and we are going to end the stadium tour in Ireland.

“And I could tell by the look on his face, when he said that, how special this is to him, his returning to Ireland. And it will be a make-up thing for what happened before.”

Virgin Media TV’s David Tiernan, the producer of Garth Brooks – Coming Home, caught the country icon in action at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in April.

“A lot of people would say of Garth Brooks, ‘I don’t get it? Some of the songs are great, but a lot of people have great songs. I don’t get the hype about this.’ And a lot of the response from the Garth die-hards was, ‘Go see him live, you’ll get it then.’ And I think that was very true.

Guitarist Gordon Kennedy

“I didn’t know what to expect in Baton Rouge, which would have been my first Garth Brooks experience. It was pretty spectacular. It’s a big show, it’s a high-energy show.

"He does a lot of the stuff that you expect, and Gordon Kennedy says in the documentary, which is completely true, he has such a back catalogue at this stage he could probably play for three hours, and if you are a Garth Brooks fan every minute of it you’ll be saying, ‘That’s brilliant!’

“Beyond 1997, Garth really hasn’t had an album that exploded the way No Fences did, and it’s a testament to the strength of some of those songs that he is still as popular, if not more popular, than ever.

“Not only are the people who originally bought those early albums still fans, but there’s a whole generation that were possibly not even born in ’89 when the debut album came out, who are now absolutely massive Garth Brooks fans. And they’re not just country fans, and that’s really because of the strength of those songs.

Behind the scenes with Kent Blazy

“I went into it not being a massive Garth Brooks fan. There were a couple of songs here and there I wasn’t familiar with, but you get swept up in the moment. It was a great show and I think anyone who is going to go to Croke Park is really going to be blown away.”

The Coming Home documentary doesn’t feature a new interview with Brooks, instead his story is told through the eyes of people close to him, including those who helped to create his iconic songs.

They include an interview with Kent Blazy, who co-wrote Brooks classic, If Tomorrow Never Comes, which launched his career and is still his signature song.

Brooks had composed some of the lyrics, but he couldn’t figure out how to finish it.

“He was new to town (Nashville) and he was cleaning churches and selling boots and he wanted to sing demos and I had a studio,” Blazy says.

Brooks’ manager, Bob Doyle, told Blazy before they left, “Garth writes a bit, you should get with him.”

They discussed If Tomorrow Never Comes and Garth asked Blazy what was wrong with it. “Well, you are killing somebody off in the first verse and there’s really nowhere to go. It’s like killing the star of the movie in the first three minutes.”

Blazy sorted the song and when Garth later performed it at the famous Bluebird venue in Nashville, a guy from Capitol Records, who had turned him down several times, was there that night. He said to Brooks afterwards, “Hey, maybe we missed something, why don’t you come back in.”

Garth went back in, got a record deal and If Tomorrow Never Comes became his first number one hit.

  • Garth Brooks – Coming Home is on Virgin Media One on Tuesday, September 13. He plays Croke Park on September 9, 10, 11, 16 and 17.

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