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June 2019
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2006-09-10 Dublin Gaiety Theatre

reviewed by John


It was with high anticipation that some fans attended this concert, because it was Daryl's first appearance in front of many of us, and we knew that Donna was soon to depart and Deirdre was scheduled to return as guest performer. Perhaps I can mention the two ladies first.


I have watched Donna transform from a frighteningly talented young lady into a sophisticated and stunning artiste over the past year and some. To know that she is still only 19 further serves to emphasise what an enormous future she must have before her. I gather that she was to return to college today to resume her studies. We can only hope that she returns periodically to entertain us more. Although her dad was there, we were not treated to 'Katie' (his favourite), but she did cascade crescendos on us when she teamed with James during the first live performance I have heard of 'Ten thousand tears'. The recorded backing track (for my money, David's masterpiece so far) was used to great advantage, but then that wondrous Gilsenan voice kicks in and you're taken to a different plane. Truly magnificent in every way, and those who have not heard it live yet are in for a huge treat. Donna has been a delight and an inspiration at the concerts I have seen her in - let's all hope she achieves the success her talents surely make her worthy of. She is also, in my opinion, the owner of a truly delightful and charming personality. And stunning on the eye. (She was attired later in the show in a glittery black dress 'chosen by Deirdre, bought in Hollywood' - stunning.

Deirdre appeared almost surreptitiously from the wings and was awesome. It is the same gorgeous, sophisticated, gossamer-voiced Deirdre we have all come to love and admire, and she and James shared one of the highlights of the evening. She performed 'She moved through the fair' on stage, which is track 6 on the album. The recorded version is sung a cappella. So the poor girl is standing on stage, while James is doing his share to plug her album; because she seemed to have had a mental block. He asks whether she has a new album, whether it is on sale in the foyer, etc., etc., by which time Deirdre is starting to giggle at her own lack of self-promotion. He then asked her what the title of the album is (Deirdre Shannon, of course), then where she derived the inspiration for the title! By now Deirdre is almost hysterical, when James dropped the real bombshell. He mentioned the lack of orchestration on the recorded version, and asked why that was. She responded that he knew very well, at which point James responded instantly with 'I know I know, but everyone else would like to know too.' So the poor girl had to confess that she had run out of money during the production. A beautiful moment, which brought the house down. Mr. Nelson exits, stage right.

Then to the main act. I have written enough in the past about James' and Matthew's voices and talents, so Daryl gets his turn now. It is, I suppose, inevitable that comparisons with Posh are going to be made. I shall avoid it, and treasure the magical moments we all share when Niall soared over notes with that distinctive tonal quality. Let's just say that to move into a vacant slot cannot have been easy for Daryl, but there is NO WAY you would ever guess it. He has a poise and maturity about him which are incredible for one of his age (I can say that). Then on top of that he has a vigour and enthusiasm which generate a joyousness about their collective presence which is quite palpable (for example poaching half of Matthew's microphone which was clearly not expected). His voice is crystal clear and rich, and the blend of voices works magnificently. His mock argument with James ('let's face it, you are boring') and James' sharp intake of breath when confronted like that were fine comedic moments. But Daryl somehow manages to combine youthful vigour with a tonal depth and maturity which make a perfect combination with the voices of Matthew and James. And James has, for the time being, I think, to hand over the reins of female vocal lead to Daryl, who has a soprano range which many sopranos would probably kill for. His charm and sincerity are very engaging, and we can only hope that his time with the others, whether it is short or long, is as enjoyable and successful as the concert I witnessed last Sunday.

Highlights for me were many with so much new material to which to become acquainted. I suppose for sentimental reasons, 'Tonight' from West Side Story, mainly because in a single line you could see and hear the collective talents of some really quite exceptional musicians as all five vocalists performed together. The force of that performance was earth-shattering.