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June 2019
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2001-05-12 Celtic Class from James & Friends

from the SligoWeekender


You could forgive the audience who attended the Celtic Tenors on Saturday last for being a bit biased. When three men hot footed their way onto the stage in the Aula Maxima the first of many rounds of applause began.


But the biggest claps were saved for the introduction of one member, Sligoman James Nelson. James is no stranger to performing in Sligo, having been here earlier in the year for a charity concert, but this was the first time that he brought his Celtic comrades with him.


Matthew Gilsenan and Niall Morris were treated as honorary Sligomen by the (less than capacity) crowd, all of whom were glad to forsake the fine May weather for a musical experience which rarely happens in a town the size of Sligo.


Anyone expecting an exclusive set of Irish and Scottish songs were instead greeted with an eclectic selection of Celtic pieces, classical numbers, musicals and even a tune from the Fab Four. Nobody was disappointed.


Kicking off with a range of traditional pieces, many taken from their self titled debut album, it was apparent that Messrs Nelson, Gilsenan and Morris were enjoying the performance as much as we were.


The interaction with audience, and with each other was fluid, and led to some genuinely funny moments, not least of which was the final song before the interval, a hilarious rendition of "Galway Bay" complete with reference to tattoos, Bacardi Breezer and soap.


The second half was opened by the Celtic Tenors' special guests, Wendy, Lisa and Cathy, aka The Vard Sisters, who delighted with their renditions of "The Hiding Place" and "The Flower Duet" from their album "Heavenly" as well as "Wonderchild" and "Nella Fantasia" made famous by Sarah Brightman.


However, it was their final piece "Ave Maria" which stood out, as all three Tenors joined Cathy, Wendy and Lisa on stage to complete a brilliant crescendo of vocal ability.


Then it was time for the lads to get back to their winning ways, with a version of the Beatles "Here There And Everywhere" and "Sit Down You're Rocking The Boat" from the musical Guys and Dolls.


Interspersed with these was more material from their debut album, including their stunning a capella version of "Danny Boy" and a song specially composed by James, and which he dedicated to his mother, proudly sitting in the audience.


They finished the evening with an outstanding rendition of a song written especially for them by Phil Coulter. "Remember Me/Recuerdame" is the final track on their album, and it was a gem of a song which they saved until the end, and I for one was glad they did.


The rest of the country, if they don't already know how good the Celtic Tenors are, will find out over the coming weeks and months. If you haven't already had the opportunity to see them perform live, then avail of the first chance which comes your way. They are a sublime slice of Celtic Class!