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Starman
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« on: March 12, 2014, 06:25:52 PM »

              A near-capacity crowd greeted Celtic Woman in their return for the second year to the Eastern Kentucky (EKU) University Center for the Arts in Richmond Kentucky on March 11, 2014, this despite the competition from the state basketball tournament which is in full swing during ?March Madness? and in which many local teams are participating. 

                A break in the winter weather had produced a beautiful warm day in the Bluegrass for the show. Kentucky Educational (KET) Television had broadcast Emerald four (4) times during its spring pledge drive in the days just prior to the show.  The Celtic Woman portion of the annual pledge drives are perpetually the highest fund raisers for KET.  Membership Director Michelle Ripley told the audience that this year?s shows mark the twentieth for Celtic Woman concert in the Bluegrass state.  She had given me a sort of on-air nod in telling the audience of one KET member having attended 50+ shows.  At the M&G that night she introduced me to the other attendees and asked if anyone else had more shows. Nobody did. 


   Daniel C (DCobble) had driven up from Tennessee to my home in Lexington that afternoon.  While getting ready to leave, I had a call from avid forum-member Barbeaver that she had arrived in Richmond, having decided to attend despite misgivings about the weather and the distance from Columbus OH. However, she had no M&G ticket and had a gift she asked me to give Lisa Lambe for her.  I suggested we try to get her a M&G pass at the venue.  Difficult, but not impossible?.

   Arriving at EKU after the short 30 minute drive, the GPS again this year reminded me that ?you have reached your destination? despite the venue being nowhere in sight.  We then began the search for the building, I making all the same mistakes I made last year. Finally, we arrived at the EKU Center for the Arts.

   Upon entering, Dan and I check at the KET table to see where to meet for the M&G.  We are told to gather there at 6:45 rather than 6:30. We are told that the M&G is full with no extra M&G tickets available. Strike one in our effort to get one for Barb, but we are not out?maybe someone has an extra due to a no-show.  We look for Barb who is not in the lobby, but see her pulling into the parking lt.  Dan and I go out to meet her.

   Back inside with Barb, she picks up her ticket at the box office window.  We tell her the bad news about there being no extra M&Gs.  However, we tell her to stick close in case someone has an extra.  Our efforts paid off, as I inquire of one gentleman who appears to be alone:  Yes!  His intended companion for the show was unable to attend and so he graciously agrees to give Barb his M&G ticket and also the ticket to his spare front row seat!  Mark M, whom we met for the first time, was our hero this night?Barb would get to give Lisa her gift in person!   8)

   Our group was led excitedly by KET Membership Director Michelle Ripley back to the M&G.  They will take  our photos with the soloists.  We arrange to get what shots we might also be able to get with our own cameras.  I sort my gift bags to the girls as I near the front of the line.  I have included buttons from the new fan forums for Susan and Mairead Carlin in the gifts to them. 

   I am greeted warmly by the girls when it is my turn?I hadn?t seen them since Nashville. I sort out the gift bags and hand them out as we talk. Lisa had gotten a distressed tweet from me seeking reassurance that she had not already departed and she reassured me that she would be back after her stint in the play in Ireland was over.  She said she would miss me too.  I told Susan and Mairead C of the forum buttons in their bags; that I was giving Mairead N a different brand of rosin which I hoped she liked.  After the photo, I told her to look for us on the front row. Mairead C said she would give me a ?thumbs up? from the stage.  I was thrilled to be with them once again for those all-to-brief exchanges that nonetheless mean so much.

   As we head from the M&G to our seats, I gave Mark forum buttons of Susan, Mairead C and also Lynn Hilary.  Hearing that Lynn would be temporarily coming back, I brought some thinking they might be in demand.  He was delighted to get them all and pledged to visit and perhaps join the on-line fan forums which the buttons represent.  I also advised him of the Face Book fan pages, which seem to be getting more and more traffic these days.  Of course if you do, you?ll get suggestions from Face Book to ?like? the page of any Celtic artists that ever lived, including the Boston Celtics NBA team.  :P

   Dan and I are delighted to see our seats are front row center?just as I had asked for!  The two seats to my left were empty?I was soon to find out why.  As we?re waiting for the show to start a spotlight is focused to the stage in front of me.  As soon as I started projecting ?rabbit ears? onto the stage, the light shuts off.  So ends my cartoon show to the audience.   :D

   Taking stage to welcome the crowd is the EKU Arts Center Director, who then turns it over to Michelle Ripley, who introduces the group, as she has done on countless occasions both on the air at KET and in person at the shows.  As she comes off stage, she takes the seat beside me.  Front & center with Michelle, as I had been at the Cape Girardeau Mo show in 2011?especially memorable to me as the last M&G I had with Lisa Kelly.  :'(

   Applause breaks out as the crowd spots Mairead Nesbitt even before the spotlight illuminates her.  The haunting strains of The Sky, the Dawn and the Sun begins. I consider this to be the best of the songs written by David Downes for Celtic Woman.  The vocalists perform it perfectly.  Basically, Susan sings the lyrics sung by Lisa Kelly originally, Mairead C the lyrics previously sung by Chloe and Lisa the lyrics originally sung by Meav, as best I can determine without  playing them side-by-side. I am personally gratified that the song is back in this show.

   With the aid of the Emerald show program, which is now available, I can identify the next song as Cailin Ailinn, which is beautifully sung in fluent Irish by Lisa Lambe. It was a complete mystery to me without the program.  I understand the title means ?Beautiful Girl?, which certainly qualifies Lisa to sing it!  Maybe some other forum members have some additional insight into what I understand is a traditional song. This leads in to an old Irish song which makes perfect sense to us now since its introduction to most of us via Celtic Woman---Dulaman, a song about seaweed. Lisa?s favorite seaweed song, as she used to say.  I don?t know whether Lisa?s flowing gown in this one is meant to connote seaweed, but if so meant, it succeeds, fitting the song well.

   New Grange is next, the haunting number sung by Orla Fallon on prior Celtic Woman DVDs/CDs.  Mairead C sings it magnificently now, marking her first solo number in the new show. The choir adds full vocal backup despite their smaller numbers from the original. 

   There is in every live Celtic Woman show, I believe, a number of people craving to see live the type of performance Mairead Nesbitt presents in Butterfly, the next song. It is the type of stunning performance people will recall for years to come.  And they will not be disappointed on this night.  It is a great and welcome change of pace, too, in that part of the show.

   The performance of New Ground by pipe virtuoso Tommy Martin, draws applause from throughout the audience as it movingly dissolves, not to Ellis Island, but to more exotic locals evoked by Orinoco Flow.  Alex Sharpe once told me that the lyrics in that song always challenged her to be focused, as it was easy to slip up if you weren?t on guard. It posed no problem to this group in this crowd favorite.

   Beautiful Susan McFadden takes a seat at the piano for The Moon?s a Harsh Mistress. Her charming introduction to the number adds to its appeal. It is a beautiful change of pace.

   Amazing Grace begins with the familiar strain of bagpipes, though, as customary, it takes a while for the audience to perceive that Anthony Byrne is coming down the aisle.  The audience gradually locates him.  This is a beloved hymn that is most rousing at the climax when the vocal harmonies are joined by the pipes of Anthony and Tommy Martin, also standing.  The song produces a big standing ovation, as it usually does.

   Si do Mhaimeio i is a great number for Mairead C, bringing recollections of its success sung by Meav earlier.  The choir places a more prominent role in this arrangement, showing off the talents of the present talented choir members, Sarah, Edel, Craig and Nick.  It?s an awfully lot of talent in such a small choir!  Mairead C and they make a wonderful rendition of it in this show!

   The lead into intermission is via one of the great highlights of the show, Teir Abhaile Riu (TAR).  Fans have dubbed gorgeous Lisa Lambe as captain of all would-be Galway Sailors.  Commissioning has famously required to be selected by Lisa to provide her a lap in its performance at each show (I have had the honor of being inducted twice). The audience loves the interplay between she and Mairead C, who plays the ?responsible? sister who duel in whether she should be permitted to go to Galway. With Susan finally intervening between them, the audience is treated to highly-entertaining acting, singing and dancing.  This night, I got a couple of ?salutes? from Commodore Lambe, also a custom in recognizing inducted sailors from past shows.  The audience may not as a rule know what they mean---but WE do!  ;) ;D

   During intermission, I see many people who have attended other Kentucky shows in Louisville, Lexington and elsewhere.  Several ask about Chloe and we tell what we know of her current solo endeavors.  She is missed by the crowd who has come to know her from so many Celtic Woman broadcasts over the years.

   The new arrangement of I Know My Love starts back the show after intermission, as primarily a solo number by lovely Mairead Carlin in a very entertaining number. She has a very strong and confident voice to go with her beauty, very appealing. 
   
   A change of pace with the lovely introduction and intro into Bridge Over Troubled Water by the enchantingly beautiful Lisa Lambe. If one hopes for an angel over which to bridge troubled waters, it is certainly she.

   The percussionists were at the top of their form in Richmond.  Ray?s solo number with the Bodhran was fantastically received.  The numbers with choir members/dancers Craig Ashurst and Nick Yenson were very impressive and extremely well-received. When they are joined by Anthony, Ray and Andy on boxes, the audience is treated to quite an amazing show.  Having seen it in Nashville on successive nights and on this night, I can say definitely that it is choreographed and not ad-libbed, as might have been expected with such an intricate number.
   
   The Call is done in the new arrangement, sung principally by gorgeous Susan, a siren guaranteed to produce an affirmative response to any call. The song is a great contribution composed by David Downes and rightly included in this show, though I personally preferred the original arrangement.  The intent is probably not to present it here as a blockbuster finale.
   
   I don?t see She Moved Through the Fair in the program, but I could swear it was performed.  Not sure if that is my mistake or theirs in failing to include it in the program.   

   As Mairead N and Ray Feen are energetically performing, the choir and Anthony entertainingly come down both aisles.  Sarah Gannon dances through the pit section and the succeeding rows.  The crowd is a bit bewildered, but entertained by the antics until the soloists emerge for Nil Se?n La?, unamused at these antics and a chastened choir, Anthony and Andy, returns to the stage.  The part with Ray getting undeservedly whacked by Mairead N has apparently been omitted.   :D
   
   Nil S?en La? follows which is as entertaining and energetic as always.  Mairead C seems particularly energetic to me in this number.

   Granuaile?s Dance follows, this raucous number from Mairead N is fantastically performed, as usual, and enthusiastically received. Followed by Danny Boy, the lovely vocal harmonies of which seldom fail to bring a standing ovation.  One is given by the audience on this night.
   
Loud drum beats and choir harmony signify the start of Mo Ghile Mear. The choir seems particularly central to this one tonight, though it may just have been my focus. Edel and Sarah seemed to particularly enjoy the performance this night.

The duties of introducing  Raise Me Up are shared this night, as each of the soloist gets to add to it, rather than just Mairead N as previously. No Celtic Woman performance would be complete without it.

      The Parting Glass signals the end of the show is near. The arrangement with the vocal harmonies and the rousing bagpipe ending far surpass its performance at any real gathering, a tribute to David Downes? powerful arrangement.  Toward the end, Lisa reaches down and takes Barb by the hand, kissing it.  Barb will certainly never forget that!  Lisa blows me a kiss as they depart from the stage.  Some consolation, as it will be my last show with her in the tour, until hopefully she returns for a Christmas tour.

   As we start to leave, Barb has received a tweet from Celtic Woman Producer Maggie Seidel to come up to the sound controls to see her, as she is there in Richmond.  Barb goes and after a while, the rest of us come up and Barb introduces us to Maggie, whom I had never had the privilege of meeting before.

   We thereupon decide to go by the buses on the way to our cars and are rewarded to see and speak with Craig, Nick and to wave at Sarah, Edel, Eoghan and Andy. Lastly, Mairead N came out and came over to speak with us.  She gave me a hug and said she liked the new brand of rosin I had given her, which was some relief, as I don?t really know what kind she prefers and there seems to be a blue million types.

   We, along with all in attendance at this fantastic show in Richmond, KY, leave contented.  :)


    


The girls with Daniel Cobble, well-known fan!


« Last Edit: March 18, 2014, 07:49:16 PM by Starman » Logged
GlenS
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    « Reply #1 on: March 13, 2014, 01:29:56 PM »

    Very nice John you are always good at giving them little goodie bags how do you know what to get them other then candy they always love that.
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    Starman
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    « Reply #2 on: March 14, 2014, 06:26:57 PM »

       I usually give the vocalists each a bottle of vocal spray and Mairead N a premium box of rosin.  I know other people often give them Starbucks gift cards, which are very popular with them all.  :)
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    Jackie
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    « Reply #3 on: March 29, 2014, 07:25:24 AM »

    Love the photos!
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    Starman
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    « Reply #4 on: March 29, 2014, 06:00:56 PM »

        Thanks Jackie!  It was a great time at a show just down the road from me!  Not having a lengthy trip makes it easier to get a review up quicker!  ;) :)
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