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2007-02-04 Winter Haven

reviewed by Susan

 

I had planned on going to this concert since seeing it listed on the schedule last October. Sadly for me it sold out immediately, so I put my name on the waiting list for tickets, because my friend Marilyn said she'd like to go too. She had no idea who they were, and as a matter of fact she thought their names might be Michael, Anthony and Finbar. So, on the day of our 64-mile trip, I had assembled photos and bios of the REAL tenors: Matthew, Daryl and James, for her edification. When we arrived at the venue, Polk Community College we saw only two cars in the lot, and my heart sank. I thought everyone had decided to stay home for the Super Bowl and I was feeling sad for the tenors. Marilyn approached one car and signaled the man to roll down his window. I was walking up behind Marilyn just as I heard her ask him, "Are we in the right place?" The man just stared at her, and then she amended, "for the tenors." He told us that we were at the back of the building and the lot was on the other side of the building. Phew, what a relief!

 

We walked into the lobby and I picked up my precious tickets that were being held at the box office. I was glad to see that the lobby was full of people. We arrived just 15 minutes before showtime, so we decided to find our seats. The concert hall isn't very big, it only seats 500 people, but the stage is large. The seats were very comfortable but steep like a football stadium, so there were no bad seats. We were seated seven rows back, just about in the middle of the row, so we were looking slightly down at the stage. The stage was bare with the exception of a piano a little to our left with a speaker in front of it. There were three large speakers at the front edge of the stage, and I watched as a man placed two water bottles of water at each speaker. There was a dark red backdrop curtain with red lights shining on it. A woman came out to announce the Celtic Tenors and said that it was part of the contract that there were to be no cameras or recording equipment. Then, for some reason a female ventriloquist walked out and did a short act, discussing the tenors and how the dummy was going to join them. I thought that was a good time to occupy myself by loading new batteries in my camera for the Meet & Greet to be held later.

 

Marilyn was seated on my left and the lady to her left asked her how we got our tickets, because the couple who usually sat there had had those seats for three years. We told her about the waiting list we were on. About this time an older man and a young woman, both wearing bright yellow sports jackets, took their places in the second row. The lady next to Marilyn pointed them out and said that that was Banana Joe, who appears at Cypress Gardens, and his act is to water ski barefooted. The most amazing thing about all of this was that today was his 92nd birthday. Ninety-two and he skiis barefooted at Cypress Gardens!!!. He has his own parking space there and it's painted bright yellow. The woman with him was his granddaughter.

 

David walked on the stage alone and sat at the piano. He started to play "Star of the County Down" as the fellas bounded on stage wearing black tee shirts under black suits. When the song was over Matthew started to introduce them. He told us he was from Kells in North Meath and asked if we'd heard of the Book of Kells. James told us that Matthew's father wrote it, and Daryl added that Matthew's mother colored in the pictures. Matthew said that when they sing they're selfish and sing what they like. He said they touch on Irish, they touch on classical, they touch on contemporary.. Daryl said, "You touch on a lot." Then they started to sing "Caledonia."

 

Next Daryl said he was from North Ireland, raised during The Troubles, and he was dedicating the next song to his parents. He was taught by his parents to see more than two sides to every story. They started to sing "You Raise Me Up."

James mentioned that he was from Sligo and then introduced David, said he was from Glasgow, Scotland and asked if any of us were Scots, but he didn't wait for our response, he went right on to other things. A while later David spoke into his microphone, complaining that James had asked if any in the audience were Scots, but he didn't wait for a reply, he just talked over them. James turned to us with a lifted eyebrow and explained that David was not in a good mood because there were two rugby matches that day and Scotland had lost both, one to Ireland and one to England.

 

Then they introduced the next song as the "Mad Goat," and James said he was going to sing it in one form of Gaelic and Matthew in another form of Gaelic. Daryl spoke up and said he was going to sing his part in American Irish. Next they announced another Scottish song--"Mull of Kintrye." Then Deirdre floated out, elegant in a long sleeved off white gown with a shawl collar. They sang "Nella Fantasia." The fellas left as Deirdre was speaking to the audience. She said they just flew in from Ireland last night and this was a sort of mini tour before the big tour. She said she was going to sing a song with her brother, and Matthew walked out. She asked if anyone has guessed that he was her brother. Several people did. Matthew thought it was because of the eyes. Deirdre smiled and said she thought it was because of the nose. She said they sang quite a bit together and most duets are love songs. Matthew said, "A love song with your sister just seems weird." She said since it was their first day in the US and since it was Sunday, they were gong to sing "The Prayer."

 

Then James and Daryl returned and they all sang "Libiamo, ne' lieti calici," from La Traviata. Absolutely wonderful. Daryl said they had been in Vancouver last week. Matthew started discussing something and said it "morphed out of the ether," and Daryl, turning to him asked, "What is that?" Matthew tried to clarify it for Daryl. After a bit more chatting, we heard David say, "Success has many fathers and failure is an orphan." The tenors turned to look at him and James loudly called for David's mike to be turned off. I love these guys!

 

Matthew told us that they had all met in opera eight or so years ago, "wasn't that right," he said, turning to James for confirmation. James shrugged and said, "20 or so"

 

Matthew started to introduce their next song and when he finished, Daryl said, "Well, that was a long intro." Then they sang "Ten Thousand Tears." When James did his solo part my jaw dropped for the second time that night. His voice is so beautiful.

 

Next they sang "Danny Boy" a capella. Matthew said they had just re-recorded it along with their next song which was a Phil Coulter song about three soldiers. When I recognized the intro to "Remember Me/Requerdame" I gasped audibly and the lady on my right turned to look at me just as I was saying under my breath, "Oh THANK YOU James." It's my second favorite song after "Summer of My Dreams") and I was so hoping they'd do it. If you recall, when I mentioned it a few months ago he said it was "deceptively difficult" to sing. Well, their voices must have in perfect condition, because it was glorious. I got chills, I got teary eyes. When it was over Marilyn turned to me and said she had tears in her eyes. I asked, "and chills?" She said, "oh, yes."

 

Intermission

 

We stayed in our seats during intermission, and I was thinking to myself that when we first arrived the stage seemed so bare, but when the tenors are there it seems very full and needs no props or decorations.

 

The guys came bounding out once again, this time in open-collared white shirts, colorful vests and frock coats, and the audience showed its appreciation with a sustained round of applause and whistling. Around this time Daryl did what started out as a beautifully executed spin on one foot that left him staggering off to the side and clutching his forehead. So he tried it again with a bit more success, and we applauded his efforts.

 

They sang "Granada," a song I have loved since I was a kid. The man two seats to my right said, "..I don't like the song." I wanted to lean over and say, "Are you nuts?" but I held my tongue.

 

Next they did a very energetic " Irish Rover" that got our toes a tapping, with James doing a most wonderful, drawn out, dog howl at the end.

 

Next was "Shenandoah" a capella.

 

They introduced their next song by saying it was made famous in 1990 by a famous large gentleman and sang "Nessun Dorme."

 

Deirdre floated out again, this time in an iridescent blue and green gown. She sang "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," and when she was finished she mentioned that it was a Carol King song.

 

The next song was "Still By Your Side."

 

Next was "The Belle of Belfast City/I'll Tell Me Ma." Apparently they goofed up the end a bit, because Daryl turned and said, something about someone "shite-ing on my part." Matthew, looking a bit flustered, talked a bit and asked if they could sing the last part again. David started talking again, in his wonderfully musical Glasgow burr, and James pointed out that you can't understand what he says unless you've seen the movie Shrek. (I found the remark hilarious and I'm afraid I was heard to snort very loudly). James went on to say that David had been specially dyed for the concert.

 

Next James started to sing "Bring Him Home." More chills on my part. I do so love his voice.

 

And then, and then, James said there was someone in the audience by the name of.... And he was referring to m-m-me! I stuck my arms up straight like a referee and waved them a couple of times. James noticed and pointed, as did Matthew and Daryl, and then they all started to wave. James said they were dedicating the next song to me, and it was it was "Paddy McGinty's Goat." My notes get a little confused here, because I stopped writing. The audience was practically rolling on the floor with laughter as the fellas took the parts of the various people in the story, and James did a most wonderful, drawn out, expressive goat bleat at the end of the song. We clapped enthusiastically and whistled to show our appreciation. There were many stunning moments in this concert, but I must say that "my" song topped them all.

 

I got a little lost with the spat between James and Daryl, but it was WONDERFUL. I wasn't taking notes because I didn't want to miss an expression or a gesture. Daryl called James "boring"; James started to walk off in a huff, Matthew got him back, and then Matthew walked Daryl offstage, speaking to him, trying to pacify him. We could hear Matthew trying to calm down Daryl by telling him confidentially that James was on estrogen patches and so Daryl should go easy on him. Still on stage, James, of course, was literally twitching with indignation. Matthew and Daryl came back out and Matthew made them shake hands. They did it reluctantly and then each wiped his hands on his trouser leg as they parted again.

 

Somewhere in all of this madness and chaos David started quipping again, and once more James called for his mike to be turned off.

 

When everything was calm again, someone, was it Daryl, said they were going to sing a song about lost love. James looked out at us and said, "Welcome to my world." Then Matthew, I think it was, assured us that that wasn't true that James was well loved.

 

Then they sand Air Supply's "I'm All Out of Love." For this song Daryl walked over to the piano and sat on the bench with David.

 

End of the concert

 

Encore: Deidre glided out in a strapless black gown and joined them in "Time To Say Goodbye." More chills on my part.

 

I think that this is where each tenor picked up one long stemmed rose that was behind the speakers where we hadn't noticed them. They each headed out in a different direction to present a rose to a lady.

 

Daryl said he hoped that Chicago would win the Super Bowl, because he had sung at Soldier's Field once.

 

James said they'd be out in the lobby to sign "anything within reason."

 

Matthew asked us if we wanted one more song. What a question! Of course we did!

 

SECOND ENCORE: "Ireland's Call.

 

As we were walking out, the lady who had first introduced them announced that there were CDs out in the lobby but the DVDs were sold out. It didn't matter to me, because I have it and also all the CDs.

 

Meet and Greet

 

They were seated at a long table in the middle of the lobby. There was a sizeable crowd, and there were several clusters of club chairs in the open area behind their table, so I just sat and watched until the crowd thinned out. They were charming, witty, friendly and gracious with everyone. The lineup was Matthew, then Daryl, then James. Deirdre was standing near Matthew speaking to a lady with curly red hair, Maggie, who was over here from Tipperary. I was having trouble turning on the flash in my camera, so I asked a gentleman if he knew how. He asked if I wanted him to take a photo or two, so I asked him if he would take a couple of photos from the front of the table. Then I got up and quietly stood behind James so the man could take a photo. Well, I don't know what that man did, but the photos didn't show up in the camera's memory.

 

Finally the crowd was pretty well gone, so Marilyn and I got in line. She was ahead of me, so I handed her a photo of the fellas that I had printed from their International Fan Site, the one where they're wearing their colorful vests and frock coats. Matthew looked surprised. I guess he thought we had just taken it, so I told him where I had printed it from. By the time I got in line I think I was almost the last one. Matthew signed my photo and I moved on to Daryl. I laid my folder on the table in front of him. Clipped to the corner of the folder I had a very tiny photo of them in casual clothes that I think I got from the Yahoo site. Daryl leaned forward a little and looked at it. He pointed to it, then pointed to himself, looked up at me with a big beautiful smile and said, "That's me." I smiled back and said, "very good, you're right." He is as cute as a bug. I know Niall is sorely missed, but if he had to leave, then Daryl was a wonderful choice as a new Celtic Tenor. He is talented, witty and utterly adorable. The three fellas seem to get along famously and really enjoy each other.

 

As I approached James at the table he glanced my way and called out my name, asking if the goat song was okay. He was afraid I'd be offended at the choice of song for my dedication. I assured him that I loved it.

 

By this time Matthew had gone to stand and chat with some people in the middle of the room. Marilyn offered to take a photo of James and me, so I started walking around behind his chair to just stand there, but he jumped up and then asked Daryl to get in the shot as well. Then for the next shot, he called Matthew over.

 

And now to sum it all up. The Celtic Tenors, individually and as a group, are incredibly talented, warm, witty, approachable and very good looking. David is as cute as a button and such a hoot! Unfortunately he wasn't at the Meet & Greet. Maybe he was banned because he'd be too disruptive? Deidre has talent wrapped up in grace and elegance.

 

After observing David throughout the concert, my personal thought is that he should volunteer to do double duty as their warm up act. About two minutes of his observations and he'd bring down the house. He's wonderful.

 

If you've never seen the Celtic Tenors live and get the chance to see them, I urge you to go. You won't be disappointed. They are extremely talented and put on a very lively and enjoyable concert. And they're some of the nicest, most down-to-earth people I've ever met. For the price of a $15 ticket and 3/4 of a tank of gas, I had a fantastic afternoon.

 

These are the songs in order

Star of the County Down
Caledonia
Raise Me Up
Mad
Goat Song (in Gaelic)
Mull of Kintyre
Nella Fantasia
The Prayer
Libiamo, ne' lieti calici (from La Traviata)
Ten Thousand Tears
Danny Boy (a capella)
Remember Me/Requerdame

Intermission

Granada
Irish Rover (James did a barking dog)
Shenandoah (a capella)
Nessun Dorma
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
Still
By Your Side
The Belle of Belfast City/I'll Tell Me Ma
Bring Him Home
Paddy
McGinty's Goat (James did a bleating goat)
I'm All Out of Love

Encores:
Time to Say Goodbye

Ireland's Call