Garth Brooks: Threat of rain can’t dampen party mood among Croke Park fans

Gray skies and the threat of rain failed to dampen the festive atmosphere at Croke Park as Garth Brooks loyalists poured onto the pitch for the final night of the singer’s first race this week.

he night is the third night the country superstar has taken the stage in Dublin but, after five days off, the Oklahoma singer will return to the stadium next Friday.

And some fans, dressed in the singer’s signature stetson, were already preparing to return to see him again.

Superfan Maireaid Fordyce not only turned her husband Matthew into a fan, but in addition to asking him to accompany her tonight and last night, she also asked if he would be back with her next week.

“We were here last night and it was amazing,” Maireaid told Independent.ie. “We are here again tonight and expect it to be just as amazing.

“I love Garth Brooks. He’s been a constant in my life since I was a kid. His music was always around the house and when I was about four or five I wrote him a letter and he told me returned a signed letter and photo.

The couple are teachers and have just moved to Newry, County Down, Essex, where they also taught.

“I’m a music teacher, so I love all types of music,” Matthew said. “But I never liked Garth Brooks until Maireaid introduced him to me.

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“I love his music now and we’re playing it at home. It’s great to be here again, but when Mairead asked me if I was coming back next week I had to laugh and say ‘Of course , if it’s a free ticket this time’.”

However, it seems that Mairead is convinced that she will entice her husband to join her again.

“We have to come back because I don’t know when I’ll have the chance to see him again,” she said.

“He’s 60 now and yes he’s in great shape but I don’t know if he’ll be back so I have to see him while I can.”

Elaine Larkin (40) from Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, was present with her friends and said being five months pregnant ‘would never stop her seeing Garth’.

“It’s a story I can tell my little girl when she grows up,” Elaine said. “I went to Westlife when I was pregnant with twins 10 years ago.

“It’s tiring, but there was no way I’d miss anything. I love his music, it’s so relatable.

Friends Laura Noone and Lisa Fitzgerald were thrilled to be in Croke Park. Laura said she had tickets in 2014, the year the controversy erupted and Brooks’ concerts at Croke Park were cancelled.

“We’re so excited, we can’t wait to walk through those doors,” Laura said. “We have waited for this for so long. I love Garth Brooks because he loves Ireland and there’s so much in his music that I find relevant.

“I love the vibe, which is why we came early to soak it all up.”

The friends, like many in the crowd, wore stetsons to watch the highly anticipated show. “All in all, they were £30 for the hats and scarves tied around them,” Laura said. “It’s all part of the fun.”

Friends Caroline Owens (34), from Middleton, Co Cork, and Emma Sheehan (29), from Blarney, were also delighted to finally be at a Brooks concert. Even the thought of a long car ride and potential rain didn’t dampen their spirits.

“I love nostalgia,” Caroline said. “His song Dance reminds me of my grandmother, Liza, who unfortunately is no longer with us.

“I had tickets in 2014 and was devastated when I couldn’t go. My friend waited in line all night to get them, so that was really really disappointing.

“But I’m here now and I’m very excited. If it’s raining, that’s okay – we’re still going to have a great time. We have hats and ponchos.

“Garth Brooks’ music appeals so much to Irish audiences because so many people in Ireland love country music.

“I grew up with the music of Garth Brooks and with Christy Moore. It’s going to be a great evening.

The man they had all been waiting to see arrived on stage at 8 p.m., at which time the rain clouds seemed to evaporate.

The show is being recorded and will likely be used as footage for a documentary Brooks is making in Ireland.

He opened the proceedings with his 2018 song All dayarriving on stage on an elevator under the stage as a giant screen displayed the Habs.

Dressed in a black stetson and a black shirt and blue jeans, the singer jumped off a step and looked very fit for his 60th birthday.

Brooks said to the crowd, “How is everyone? Thank you for allowing us to return to the best place to play music on the planet.

“I know what you heard. This is the only Sunday show we will do in this country.

“It’s going to be a fun night. You don’t do this unless you’re someone who goes to concerts. We went to see Ed Sheeran this year. We went to see Beyoncé, she was pretty cool.

The crowd sang with the 1995s Cheyanne Beaches and friends and families danced together as Croke Park shone under the red lights.

For a few hours it didn’t feel like Dublin. It was very much like being held in Brooks’ homeland and it was a country tinged with green, white and gold.

It was clear that the music holds evocative memories for many in the crowd, including teenagers to retirees.

Brooks stepped out onto a lying platform straight into that adoring crowd and looked pumped with adrenaline as the crowd sang “Olé Olé Olé.”

“The songs are supposed to be at the end of the show,” he told the crowd.

The singer stopped to speak to a woman in the crowd, a ‘Mrs Sharon’, who asked him to play Much too young (to feel so old). Brooks replied that it was not on her set list and anyway she was too young to know.

However, he told the woman that he would try to play the piece before launching into the song with a violinist.

The singer laughed and said, “Are you kidding me,” when he realized the crowd knew all the words to the 1989 ballad.

As the night sky enveloped the stadium, thousands of people cheered and danced.

“I never imagined that you would all know much too young… I love you Sharon,” he said.

It was clear that Brooks considers Ireland a second home.

“Ireland is the best place on the planet,” he said. “I don’t have to sing, you sing to me. You have no idea how many miles I traveled just to hear you sing.

Meanwhile, a ring of steel surrounds the residential streets outside Croke Park. People can only access the area if they have tickets to the show or are residents.

One resident told Independent.ie: ‘It causes a real inconvenience, going in and out of the area.

She added: “I got home yesterday and it was a nightmare getting in with the car, but it’s not something that happens often and it will help the local economy so it’s a good thing.”

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