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2006-02-11 Bantry, Boys' Club

reviewed by Beate


On we went to Bantry on Saturday – where our hotel was a little bit outside of Bantry, but still it was only a five-minute drive to the Boys’ Club. And what a difference to the night before: this venue doubles as a sports hall, there were snooker tables next door, and a stage just does not look the same when there’s a basketball net hanging above it. Nevertheless... never just judge a book by the cover. We were in for another interesting night!

It was free seating, and well, if nobody else wanted to sit in the first row, we did! All in all, there were around 200 people, and the tenors started off with “Star of the County Down” and “Caledonia” before introducing themselves, and Danny and Martin. It soon became clear what the special character of this concert would be – whatever James, Matthew or Niall said, most of the time some member of the audience would answer back and it would end in some friendly banter. Also, I sometimes wondered was it a tenor concert or a choir night, as everybody was happily singing along. As you can imagine, it was a night full of laughter too!

The track list was pretty similar to Abbeyfeale’s – on they went with “Wild Rover” (Olivia had the pleasure of being the landlady!), “Bhéir mé ó”, “Fionnguala”, and then “Mull of Kintyre”. Donna joined them for “Nella Fantasia” and did “O mio babbino caro”, and then – slight change to the day before – Matthew’s “Contender”. “Non Siamo Isole” was followed by “You raise me up”, and “Phil the Fluter” (I suppose that, by now, Martin is on constant headache medication during a tour?). Well deserved, but very unusual for the end of the first half, the tenors were sent off the stage with a standing ovation!

The break was shortened by a raffle, which took place at the stage towards the end of it, and there was also a speech by one of the concert’s organisers, Nora, about the charity background of it. Part of the proceeds was destined for the further renovation of the Boys’ Club – a venue, as I gathered from her speech, which has quite some history, going back to the show band times – Nora gave lots of background details on who had played there. She also stressed how wonderful it was to see the stage come alive again after quite some time, and with such a superb act as the Celtic Tenors to top it off! The concert was also a fundraiser for Aware, an organisation that helps people suffering from depression and offers great support for both the patients and their families.

Nora was very passionate about both of those topics, so the break was probably a little longer than planned, but the tenors eventually returned with “Spanish Lady” and “Bring him home”, before Donna joined James for “All I ask of you”, followed by “Katie”. At some stage in between these songs (I do not exactly remember when) the tenors told the story how they met Donna when they were judges at a talent competition. They “revealed” that James had taken the role of Simon Cowell, Matthew the one of Louis Walsh, and Niall the one of Linda Martin, and that was a big laugh. On they went with “Whiskey in the jar” and the shortened version of “Danny Boy”, “Remember Me”, and (alas, again) “Time to say goodbye”. Of course there was another standing ovation, and despite Ireland’s defeat earlier in the day in the match against France, first encore was “Ireland’s Call”. Followed by a stunning “All out of Love”. Followed by another, very special treat: the last song of the evening was “Galway Bay”!

And I just cannot close this report without telling a little more about that stunning “All out of Love”… when the tenors had just started to announce the song, tell the audience how they did it in Las Vegas with Air Supply and so on, Nora made her way towards one of the doors. James saw that and stopped her right there, saying: “Nora! Where are you going?" And Niall added: "This isn’t over yet!” Everyone laughed and Nora left the audience area anyway only in order to… get this… climb up onto the stage from the left side a few seconds later. I am not quite sure what the whole purpose of this was, but apparently she wanted to get into the dressing rooms in order to fetch the flowers for Donna that had been delivered earlier in the evening. Well, I am not too familiar with the Boys’ Club’s building, but there would surely have been another way to get there which did not involve crossing the stage from left to right in full view of the audience? Anyway… she decided to chose that one, and so she had to live with the “consequences”… I trust that you are guessing it, the tenors never let her leave the stage for the whole duration of the song. She had to sing with them and dance with them, and it was hilarious!

There was no meet and greet in Bantry, but as I have said before, venues like this never seize to amaze me: as soon as the tenors had left the stage and the lights were back on, many members of the audience immediately started to help the Boys’ Club staff to put the chairs together, and carry them away, and generally clean up. While all the time chatting away about the evening and the show… it’s hard to describe but it was simply great to be there amidst all the excitement!

And it seems kind of unreal, really, but in three days’ time I will already be on the way to Belfast… for yet another concert!