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2003-09 Dublin, Limerick, Cork

reviewed by Brid

 

Having been privileged enough in recent times to attend no less than 4 Celtic Tenors concerts (1 in Limerick and 3 in Dublin) I feel duty bound to put down on paper (ok, virtual paper) some of my thoughts and feelings about these concerts. While all 4 concerts were basically the same, the voice is a quirky and somewhat unpredictable thing, and audiences vary in their responses. So, forgive me if I lump things together across all concerts. Also, forgive me if I omit some favourite song or get some facts wrong, its been a week!!! The first half of the show was classical and supposedly for just 20 minutes. Now, for any non-Irish person reading this, we in Ireland have our own interpretations of time and distance. In the same way as an Irish mile is closer to several miles, a 20 minute slot is at least twice that!! Otherwise, all the pieces in this section would have each have to be performed in 2 minutes or less  thankfully that didnt happen!!! I understand that the UK tour is almost entirely classical and if the selection and performances here are anything to go by, I think the UK tour will be hugely successful. · Granada provided the dramatic opening and had everyone sitting upright in their seats. And for anyone not getting straight into the music the white suits did the job!!! Three handsome guys in snow-white suits with white shirts and grey-toned ties certainly stand out on a nicely-lit stage. · Hearts delight  a staple of any tenor repertoire and despite my pathetic lack of German, sounds pretty good to me. I recently heard the original Richard Tauber version but I prefer this one with 3 voices. · Caruso is indeed, to die for. When I first heard this song a number of years back I thought it utterly beautiful and it went straight-away up into the all time favs list. The song, concerning the heart-rending musings of the elderly tenor on his terrace in Surriento, is breath-taking. To hear Niall singing this is just not enough. The visual is needed. He puts his heart and soul as well as his voice into this number. The performance is wonderful; he really feels that song and almost chokes up himself. You quite literally forget that youre in a concert auditorium. You are there on that terrace in Surriento watching a beautiful sunset and sipping glorious wine. Ive enclosed the lyrics below for anyone interested. For anyone looking for a recording, go for Russell Watson (The voice) or Andrea Bocelli (Romanza). Alternatively, go for the original Pavarotti version. All of these are rather different from each other, though none quite capture the emotional essence that Niall gives it. · Niall and Matthew treated us the solidarity and brotherhood that is Au fond du Temple Saint. The guys sing the parts of two friends who decide their friendship should not be threatened by their competing love for the beautiful priestess. They decide to give up on the heroine and focus on each other. Aaw, if only real life was so simple!! Lets all hope that these 3 celts will never fall out over a woman or anything else!!! Is this the first venture weve heard of the Celts singing en francais?? This is usually sung by a tenor / baritone combo and, though probably not the most complimentary thing to say to a tenor, Matthew makes a particularly good baritone! This piece will be on a new CD by Bryn Terfels (wonderful Welsh bass/baritone) in a duet with Andrea Bocelli. The CD is out in Oct/Nov but if you cant wait that long I recommend the Jussi Bjoerling & Robert Merrill version. · James gave us some charming theatre as well as some fine singing in O Sole Mio in a new translation as Oh, my Solo. Grace has described this really well so I wont go into detail just to say the audience were in stitches. Oh, the Wit!!!! I loved James patronising yeah, whatever comment on being told by Matthew that the previous song was actually in French rather than Italian. The Guys ability to have a laugh on stage is infectious, and I laughed all 4 times I saw this little bit of theatre. Im laughing now writing this  over a week later!!!· The tenors were joined by Deirdre Shannon for the La Traviata number Brindisi. Actually, a tinny version of this is the ring tone on my mobile phone which I really should change; its getting far too familiar. A Chinese friend accompanied me to one of the Dublin concerts and on the way home told me on a version of this opera shed seen in Hong Kong a couple of years back, sung in a Chinese dialect!!! What an experience that must be, I cant imagine this being sung in anything other than Italian. But Im biased; I think Italian is a knock-out language. Can I just say here how completely impressed my friend was with Matthews ability in her native tongue  sand Im not just talking about the swear words!!!!!!! On her programme, he even signed her Chinese name (complete with symbols) as opposed to the English one shes adopted.· The classical section ended with the audience favourite Nessun Dorma. Indeed, the audience were invited to sing along by Niall but only in Italian!! Thanks for the invite Niall! The three more established tenors (Pavi, Caracas, Domininimgo  sorry, cant help that :-) !!) have made this their signature tune but I actually prefer this one by three different-sounding-but-equally-talented-in-their own way tenors. Ive already mentioned Deirdre but did I mention how sophisticated and elegant she looks with her straight hair!!! She told us of how she kept homesickness at bay with A Song for Ireland and then treated us to Marble Halls with some backing from the guys. The second half was an Irish collection, and the guys were suitably attired for the part  blue jeans and crisp Laura-Ashley type shirts. I particularly like those shirts and how they give a smart casual look to the jeans  very fetching indeed!! ·Contender, Matthews solo, is a widely-covered Jimmy McCarthy number but this arrangement, with Matthews voice just perfect for the part, is to me the best. Matthew likes giving the introduction to this song as much as he likes singing it. As well as telling us the sad story of boxer Jack Doyle, he dedicated the song to his son Sean. What is it about men talking about their babies that make me go weak at the knees!!! · Danny Boy is, always has been, and always will be a favourite. Im surprised it wasnt on the Irish album but dont be greedy Brid!!! · While Ive always liked Mary from Dungloe, I never really loved it till I heard Niall sing it on the CD. He didnt get it all his own way on the stage though ;-) These tenors ability to harmonise so beautifully never ceases to amaze me. · Dublinia  this is a charming little mix but unfortunately there is only a little of each song. Id love to see/hear this live with the Dubliners!!! The Rocky Road (I love this) with Paddy Reilly in the first verse would have been particularly great. Dicey Reilly seems to have made a big impression on our Veronika, and no surprise, its a great number. I really like they wa a quiet Molly Malone is worked into the mix. · Time to say goodbye  there is some controversy as to the lyrics and true translations of these words. Or, maybe its just me being a bit slow! Enclosed below is the original translation as sung by Sarah Brightman. Would anyone care to interpret or anyone with good Italian attempt a translation?? I just love the way Niall introduces this song  now its time to say goodbye and the audience groans thinking that the show is about to end. Niall responds with no, it really is time to say goodbye and so on until he puts the audience out of their misery!!· Remember Me  this is arguably my favourite song by the Celts and no other cover version has come close. Why do I have a penchant with war theme songs?? War is a theme that is unfortunately all too common in Irish music and history and seemingly stirs as much feeling as positive emotions such as love. At any rate, this one has lots of emotional depth and the guys always sing it so well.· Irelands Call  Irish fans may be aware of the slagging this song is getting in the press recently. Dreadful words have been used to describe it, so I am rather relived that its not the Celtic Tenors who are covering it as the Irish Rugby theme. Actually I cant see the singer who is covering it doing it justice (with apologies to Grace). To me this can only be sung one way - wonderfully out of tune by several thousand mad rugby supporters on a rugby terrace. Bringing that kind of emotion indoors to a smaller arena without a rugby buzz is difficult and in fairness, the guys really dont make a bad shot at it!!! ·Given that the recent tour took the guys across the country to Irelands real capital cities, a certain something was introduced for Cork fans in the COP and for Limerick fans in the UCH. I didnt get to hear to hear The Banks sung in Cork but the Limerick equivalent&&. It was worth a trip to Limerick alone just to hear these three wonderful singers and performers giving us The Isle. This is a (rugby!!) song that is hugely popular in Limerick and surrounds but not terribly well known outside of that. James invited the audience to sing along. Thanks but no thanks James, I much preferred to sit back and relish hearing you three sing that one.· We are the champions  what a finale!!! Ive always loved the original Queen version of this. Its been butchered by so many cover attempts since this original but then the Celtic Tenors have a go at it and talent shines through. Matthew has said that he had aspirations of becoming a rock star - Matthew dude, you looked every inch the rock star up on stage belting out this one!!!! Afterwards it was a meet & greet with the audience as the trio signed autographs and took photos. They really have great patience. Given that I went to 4 concerts they must be fed up seeing my face coming along in the line :-( Ill try to keep a low profile next time. I could say something here about that security guard that Emily mentioned but Ill save myself the embarrassment  Im bound to be mis-interpreted so Ill keep that little sceal (story) to myself and keep you all in suspense!!!!!!!! But he really is such a pet! David, Deirdre, James, Matthew, Niall and all in the band - thanks for a truly wonderful concert tour. We all loved it and hope you repeat it many many times in the future!!!