Part 2 – My Own Reactions
First, what I loved most- I always loved the Celtic Thunder arrangement of “She Moved Through the Fair” ever since I first heard it, but tonight’s live performance of this song was absolutely gorgeous. I was not the only one in the stadium spellbound, silently glued to the stage till the last notes faded away. I wish their performance tonight was the one that has been available on youtube, rather than the one from the DVD recording, because tonight’s performance captured the dynamics and luscious harmonies of this arrangement in a way that the DVD recording never quite achieved. The DVD version is pretty, but tonight’s version was powerful. There was a bit of muddiness in Colm Keegan’s verse, where the meter is supposed to shift, and I suspect that there may have been some issues with the earbuds that the lads were wearing that made it hard for them to hear each other well enough some times. But in this one song, the muddiness didn’t matter so much; had they nailed that verse a bit more solidly while keeping their same powerful energy, the universe might implode from having been exposed to such a perfect performance.
I also really loved seeing this group perform “Now We Are Free” live. Keith Harkin starts this song, singing in a made-up language that uses phonemes that sound like some Celtic language, and in the last section of the song the rest of the singers come out on stage and sing a really cool complicated echo to Keith’s parts. Again, it sounded like the lads might have not been hearing each other well enough once they got into that complicated faux-echo section I find so cool. But, whatever was throwing them off, tonight’s show had the advantage of being at the end of a long tour with many nights of practice. I could hear that the different voices weren’t lining up quite right, but the effect was still fantastic.
For me, the other highlights of the show were “Galileo”, sung by Neil Byrne, and the “Sound of Silence”, performed by Keith Harkin and Colm, who did a lovely job on this one after a bit of banter about the cruise next year and a few comments from Keith to the effect of pointing out how cute Colm is. Neil’s voice seemed a long stronger this year than it was last year, and it really showed in his performance of “Galileo” tonight. Really, all his solos this time were better-voiced than I expected. He always has had such a soft, breathy voice in his past Celtic Thunder solos, and it works on some songs, but doesn’t capture his full stylistic range.
I started out last year setting an almost impossible standard for Celtic Thunder by seeing them first at a greatest hits show. The crowd’s energy was much greater last year, with lots more singing along, more fans clapping and swaying along to the music, and more fans standing to sing “Ireland’s Call” with Celtic Thunder. This year the audience felt more sparse and older, with fewer fans my age or younger in the stands. Still, tonight’s show is a new one, with songs that were almost all new, never played before on previous tours. And, last year, as my Thunderhead readers might recall, Celtic Thunder seemed to be getting tired of their show, so that they sounded stale and tired and without the audience to buoy them up their shows might have been far less exciting.
This year Celtic Thunder was in fine form, despite whatever audio issues were making it harder to stay in tune and in time with each other. Emmet Cahill needs to practice singing American rock & roll, but while his parts in “The Boys Are Back in Town” sounded a bit like garbled tongue-twisters at times, Emmet’s voice was lovely (enough to win him a new fan anyway) and he seemed to be handling the high-altitude well. I think Colm was a bit short of breath in his song “Katie”, but otherwise it seemed that the whole group was better prepared this time to sing at ~5000+ feet above sea-level.
I didn’t make it out back to see the trucks again, because it was too dark to see them very well anyway, but I did get to see four of the lads after the show at the autograph table. The cattle-chute, assembly-line feel of the autograph line was less than satisfying, but the line was actually fairly short, and there was time afterward for the taller and pushier fans to get a shot of the four singers posing at the table before they went off to their bunks on the buses. I had along the little blogging notebook I found last year that looks a lot like a character from Neil Byrne’s “Mr. Ace” video, so it now has his autograph on the front and autographs from Ryan Kelly, Emmet Cahill and George Donaldson on the back.
All in all, it was a very good night, and if I can afford it, I look forward to seeing the next Celtic Thunder show that rolls into this part of Colorado.
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