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2006-02-10 Abbeyfeale, Church of the Assumption

reviewed by Beate

 

Back from the long weekend down in Irelands southwest  heres the reports!

Friday, Abbeyfeale. We left Dublin in the morning and had a leisurely drive down, and as soon as we had checked into our B&B, we headed into town and for the Church of the Assumption, which turned out to be a modern church building in the form of a cross. So instead of just in the nave, there were also rows left and right of the altar area  I know its probably not a fitting description but it looked like a center stage was waiting for the tenors!

The concert had been organised in aid of the renovation fund for the church, so there were many sponsors and patrons around and it was a very happy and relaxed, but expectant atmosphere. And then... the concert.

The tenors were dressed in black suits, and while Martin Quinn on guitar is a familiar face on stage, it was not David who took the place on the piano, but Danny Sheridan, who was the musical director for the night.

Off they went with Star of the County Down and Caledonia, and once again I kept thinking what a special background a church building provides for the tenors. Not only because of the unique acoustics those buildings offer, but also because of all the candles, the flowers and the stained glass windows... Okay, I am getting carried away here. The tenors introduced themselves and their musicians, and launched into Wild Rover, followed by Bhéir mé ó (sooooo beautiful in a church) and Fionnguala. After Spanish Lady, Donna joined the tenors on stage for Nella Fantasia, and then did her solo, O mio babbino caro. She received an enthusiastic response and Niall later said that at an earlier concert she had received a standing ovation for her solo in the middle of the first half. I am very much looking forward to seeing and hearing Deidre again this coming weekend when Celtic Woman comes to Dublin, but Donnas voice never seizes to amaze me either and I think we will get to hear a lot more from Ms Malone in the future!

The tenors came back with Ag Críost an Síol, and then I watched (and listened) in amazement at what was happening in front of that altar. James and Niall left, and Matthew stayed on, and did the Ave Maria. Not the one we know from the So Strong album, but Gounods. Chilling is not even a close description, I was overwhelmed and Olivia who was sitting next to me was probably thinking I was losing it. I have always wanted to hear them sing that one, and what better place to hear it than in a church? It turned out that the Ave Maria had been a special request from Abbeyfeales parish priest, Father OShea. I am so glad he asked for it! And there also was surprise part two  Matthew left after the song, and James and Niall came back and announced that the Ave Maria simply cannot go without the Panis. There was an audible sigh in the church and what more can I say, the next minutes were breathtaking too.

On they went with Non Siamo Isole and You raise me up, and Phil the Fluter then closed the first half and there was an interval of 15 minutes.

As during the Irish Tour and other concerts before, I was doing the merchandise that evening, and I was literally faced with a wall of people during the break, who were all very enthusiastic about the concert and all wanted to buy their own copy of that beautiful music. It was a pleasure to watch that, and to hear all that positive feedback and the questions about the CDs and the music!

The second half opened with Irelands Call, which was followed by Mull of Kintyre. Always one of my favourites, I am very happy to see this song back on the tracklists, but I did not quite believe my ears when I heard the dedication  for Beate as we know it is one of her favourites. James, Matthew, Niall, thanks so much, this will be treasured for a long time to come! Here, There and Everywhere was followed by Bring him home, and then Donna joined James on stage for All I ask of you. Again (and I am slowly but surely running out of superlatives here), this is such a fantastically strong presentation of this song, and I dearly hope (hint, hint) that it will be included on a future CD to come? Donna continued with Katie, another lovely tune, and the tenors then did The Fields of Athenry and Whiskey in the jar.

There was complete silence in the church during Danny Boy right from the first note onwards  what an achievement, 820 people in the audience, and not a single sound coming from any of them. And it also took a few seconds for the applause to start after the song, the last note had long faded!

Remember Me and Time to say goodbye closed the concert officially, but of course the tenors were back for two encores, There is an Isle being the first one, before All out of Love almost brought the roof down.

The concert was a great success, and the tenors had the most unusual meet and greet  they signed in the altar area, but were each standing on a different corner so there were queues in front of every single one of them! Again, they took their time, and made sure they had a word for everyone and did not miss a single request for autographs or photos.

Really and truly a memorable night!