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2005-03-31 Royal Albert Hall, Tsunami Charity Concert

reviewed by John

 

I was lucky enough to get tickets to see last night's show at The Royal Albert Hall in London. It featured a number of internationally acknowledged classical performers, none of whom we allotted more than 2 numbers each. And forming the foundation for much of the evening was the magnificent English Chamber Orchestra, whose violins create such warmth of tone, you can almost feel it. The calibre was generally excellent, but there were some stand-out moments, and there are no prizes for guessing which was my pinnacle. An event of this nature and construction does, of course, dictate that there are numerous set-ups (such as rolling on and then off two grand pianos simultaneously), and once in a while these cause awkward pauses, but in general the event was very well organised, and when magic happened, it was dazzling.

 

To put the show into perspective, The Royal Albert Hall is one of the world's most prestigious concert venues (of course I would say that!), and it is absolutely vast. Last night, for the first time, I was able to gauge the impression any performer must get from the stage, and it truly is a daunting, cavernous space which confronts you. I can only imagine that facing an ocean of faces must be intimidating for anyone - even veteran performers - certainly my knees would buckle in an instant.

 

Not so (well outwardly, certainly), the CTs. They bounded onto the stage, looking more than anything else (and this word says exactly what I want it to) perfectly poised, though not as casually relaxed as they were at, say, Elmsford - and that has to be the impact of the venue. It seemed to me that their initial welcome was warmer and certainly longer than the ones accorded to most other acts - don't know if that is simply their visual impact, but it was certainly the case last night. Their first song was 'Non siamo isole', and there was a palpable engagement with the audience from the first note. By the time Niall was singing the second verse, and James and Matthew were providing supporting harmonies, those Gilsenan eyes were sparkling with enjoyment as usual, and those eyebrows arching as they do. The performance was flawless, and the orchestration heavenly. The rendition of the song was clearly very popular, and it's a good example of an immediate attention-grabber. Great choice to open, in my opinion.

 


They then moved on to 'Danny Boy'. I have absolutely no need to tell anyone the esteem in which their performance of this song is held, and not just amongst us. What always fascinates me is the apparent ease with which they synchronise their singing. We all know that they can sing any note they want; but technically, I have no idea how they manage to start and end notes with split second precision, even to the start and end of the final note's crescendo and fade. There are subtle signals between them periodically, but I have yet to deduce how those signals are conveyed when they are looking in completely different directions. However, analysis has nothing to do with the enjoyment. It was simply utter perfection (I have yet to see them sing it any other way), and it brought the house down. Then all too soon, they were gone.

 

Congratulations, guys, on one hell of a debut (as I believe it was).

 

Now let's hope that one day they get the opportunity to fill the place themselves - that is something for which everyone should start saving now, because I have no doubt it WILL happen! This kind of talent will always win through.

 

Just a few non-musical asides. Brid told me that the event was being videotaped - she understands that a DVD will be issued (and of course a CD would be perfect too). Thus no photography or recording was allowed. Since this was not the kind of event (or venue) which lends itself to meet and greet, I did not get to see the guys, and therefore, sadly, there are no photgraphs for me to be able to ask Barb to post. Plese don't yell. I did take my camera - I have at least 2 witnesses.

 

For the sartorially inquisitive (word up!) they wore black suits, white shirts, and ties as follows: Niall black and silver diagonal sripes, Matthew black on black pattern, and James black watermark (I think) - and very nice too. The shizzle is I believe the way in which I am expected to couch it!

 

Wonderful evening, in every respect. I am just sorry that there is nothing more extensive to report - it was one of those events when you almost want to stand up and ask for 'just one more', and then do it again. And again.