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June 2019
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2005-12-08 Amsterdam

reviewed by Beate


First difficulty of the trip  get started! The alarm went off at 3.45 am on Thursday morning and I had about 40 minutes to get ready  true to form, the cab arrived a few minutes before the arranged pick-up time, as it was an airport transfer. Now, I might be an organised person, but being organised at 3.45 am is a completely different thing!

I managed to catch up on some sleep in the plane, and a good four hours later found myself in the town center of Amsterdam. Blue skies, sun, not much more I could have wished for! Anja arrived around noon, and we went to find our hotel, before grabbing some lunch, before getting ready to go to the Concertgebouw (yes I can say that now in a way that even a Dutch person understands me!) and stroll along another shopping street and along a few museums on the way.

We then met Christel from Berlin and Sigrid and her husband Peter from Austria in the lobby. We talked and talked, and later had a drink after the bar was opened, before we had to go and find our seats.

As I had said before, this concert was a special treasure and I hope that each and every person reading this will get their respective chance to listen to the tenors when they sing without any technical support. Due to the fantastic acoustics of the hall, it had been decided they would do the whole concert without microphones, just accompanied by David on the piano and Martin on guitar(s) and I wonder what the right word for this would be. Special, yes. Magical comes to mind as well. Most of all, its breathtaking and simply blows you away.

They started with Star of the County Down and due to the missing technical support, the lads did not encourage anyone to clap along (yeah right, we got that eventually from the looks we received from the stage). However, during Wild Rover we were pretty much allowed to do at least the required bits! Then, the audience fell completely silent during Bheir mi o, and after that the lads made the introduction for Fionnghuala. Matthews last words before he launched into the song were Ill see you at the end, guys&  and off they were into that fast piece of mouth music. By the end, they pulled some disappointed faces that no one had picked up the melody and was able to sing along.

You raise me up was next, and although I really dont want to stress that no-technical-support thing over and over, the little hairs on my arms did exactly as they were told, and rose up. Which resulted in goosebumps all over. (Sorry if I do get distracted here now, no idea if it is because of Christmas or just something that would have happened anyway  I had the TV on last night when I came home and You raise me up currently fights for space in the TV ads. Josh Groban has a long commercial featuring this song, so does Westlife, and Brian Kennedy sang it at the funeral of former soccer idol George Best recently and instigated such a demand that he will release another CD single with it!).

Back to the concert. Spanish Lady was followed by Nella Fantasia with Deirdre in a stunning black dress with red embroidery. She then did a solo, She moved through the fair, completely a capella and without one supporting sound from piano or guitar. I did not want her to finish, honestly, the voice we all know and love so well carried through the auditorium and took your breath away!

The lads came back and all four of them did Libbiamo together, then Deirdre left the stage and Non siamo isole was introduced. Followed by Dublinia, which  being a collection of very well-known Irish songs  inspired some members of the audience to sing along. Most of all, of course, Molly Malone, and there was kind of a surprised look on Jamess face when he suddenly found himself center stage, directing a choir! After Will ye go, lassie, go and Remember me, it was time for the break.

The second part started with Grenada, and then I could not believe my ears, but what I was hearing on stage was definitely developing to be& to be& Mull of Kintyre! Well, this being my favourite song, one might think I would recognise it from the first tone, but I did not due to the simply fact that they have changed its appearance! There are no longer pre-recorded tracks in the Celtic Tenors concerts, as there used to be for certain songs (Non Siamo Isole and Nella Fantasia to name a few). Mull of Kintyre had always been one of them too, but now it was only Davids and Martins music, live, so it was a different approach to the song. Needless to say, I adored it and Anja next to me had to make sure I wasnt hyperventilating. Little time to rest, on they went with another favourite, Here there and everywhere. I was delighted to hear the next introduction, and to see Deirdre back on stage, doing The Prayer together with her brother.

Niall and James rejoined them for Once in a very blue moon, and when Deirdre had left the stage, it was time for Whiskey in the jar. Their reference to Scotland, Caledonia, was next, followed by Danny Boy a capella, and as with Deirdre before, you could have heard a pin drop in the audience. It was completely silent after the song until wild applause broke lose!

Our reliable helper Phil the Fluter then lightened the mood a little, and then it was time for the Christmas songs. Much adored, Silent Night in the English-Irish-German version, and Oh Holy Night. Ever since I have been a child, Silent Night has always been my favourite Christmas song, and this pure and simple version of it is wonderful.

Deirdre joined the tenors for Time to say goodbye, but as James pointed out, this was only officially the last song. The audience was at their feet before the song ended, and the applause did not want to end. Martin, David, Deirde, the tenors, everyone got their round of applause and cheers and of course they had to be back with encores. First of all, White Christmas with the clear demand that everyone was to sing along. And then, actually planned to be the very last piece indeed, All out of love. We were well into a second standing ovation when the lads realised they could not yet leave. Right so!

They left the choice to the audience, if we wanted one more piece, was it going to be serious or funny? No idea (honestly& grin) who those two people in the audience were who screeched funny on top of their lungs!!!  Well, we got funny in the end, with the hilarious version of Galway Bay which had a lot of people around us in stitches. And which, of course, got another standing ovation!

As usual, the lads were out for a signing and took a lot of time for everyone, talking, taking pictures, and signing CDs.

Nialls foot actually seemed to be a lot better (although, to prove his point he was not pretending, he took off his shoe and sock on stage to show the bandage). And he also kept a jealous eye on his chair, and told Matthew off whenever he attempted to get close to it or actually sit down on it!

All in all, I had a great evening in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and as I said, the concert will always remain a treasure for me!