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2008-02-23 New Albany

reviewed by Mary

Here's another, somewhat belated, concert report for New Albany. Since other people have given linear reports, this frees me to do what I do best: random free-form association and story snippets!

On a personal note, it was a very Sligo-rich weekend for me. I went to the concert with my friend Tiffany from Michigan, whom I first visited while she was working as a "warden" at a youth hostel in Sligo. (And, as I stayed there while she was working, I could say that I attended the concert with my warden! …yeah, ok, that was weak). We went to another concert Friday night at the local Irish club and discovered afterwards that, of all of the coats of arms of the different counties hung above the bar, we had sat beneath the Sligo shield. Then, on the way to the Tenors' concert, we drove by Sligo, KY – only to find ourselves listening to a tenor from Sligo. Ayup. Very Sligo-ish.

It was interesting to hear the boys in a concert hall setting – previously, I'd only heard them in a festival setting. As it turned out, this was both a good thing and a bad thing. The acoustics were great, but I missed the bubbling energy that surrounds a festival crowd. Also – and I noticed this keenly – it meant that I was forced to sit still and shut up for nearly TWO HOURS. After realizing that it would be bad to a) talk to Tiff, b) sing along, or c) randomly fidget, I ended up compromising by pulling out my pocket notebook and writing commentary to Tiffany while she sketched.

The sketches were entertaining – I thought I saw Matthew watching sometimes, and afterwards he commented that he'd seen her at it. She told me later that she wanted to draw Matthew – he had the most expressive eyebrows – but that he just didn't stay still long enough. In contrast, she had a recognizable sketch of James. There was also one of his right hand – I hadn't noticed, but Tiff says he always rests his right hand exactly the same way on his pants leg when he's holding the mic in his left hand. It's really entertaining what artists notice… Afterwards, the guys signed one of the pages of sketches for her. Matthew called her credibility into question (you're incredible!), James – we *think* - gave her blessings in Gaelic, and Daryl wrote "all my love". It would seem his love is both
easily given and not terribly demonstrative.... ;-)

< Fashion section >

I found myself really noticing the clothing this time. I think at the festival they just had black t-shirts and jeans (which looked really quite nice, actually...) I really loved the first dress Donna wore. It was a dusky maroonish-purple, simply elegant dress with a sash around the waist. The next dress was a cream creation with many fiddly bits that in itself was gorgeous, but was so busy that you
really notice the woman wearing it. I'm thinking that's a bad thing in a dress, unless you want to draw attention away from the face. The third dress was a brilliant red concoction with many gathers around the torso. This would not look good on many women, but Donna carried it off beautifully. It suited her coloring nicely.

For the guys – they need different jackets. The ones they wear over the colored vests really only looked good on Matthew, because of his long lines. The coats have some lovely detailing, as I noticed at the meet & greet afterwards, but it's too small even to be visible when they're on stage. I suggested tail coats – the kind worn in the Regency period of England. Not the black ones that everyone wears, but the blue coats that were worn with white pants (which, looking for examples in the 6-episode BBC production of Pride and Prejudice, may well have been specifically for weddings – Wickham, Bingley and Darcy all wear the style and color of coat I'm thinking for their wedding. The only blue coat I saw in the show besides those was one shot of Mr. Bennet.) Anyway... I'm thinking the tailored fit would suit Daryl especially – he's built very compactly, but with fairly large shoulders in proportion to his body, so it would show off his slim waist instead of making him look somewhat brick-like as the current coats do. Meanwhile, the tails of the coat would have the long lines that look better on Matthew's frame. And that shade of blue would look good on all three of them...though they should probably forego the top hats. ;-) (Me, going for the retro look? Just wait `til I start suggesting what form of renaissance outfits would look good on each!)

I'd love to see James and Daryl switch waistcoat colors. James gets very red in the face when he's under the lights on stage (it's quite hot up there!), and the red vest just emphasizes this. The yellow, meanwhile, isn't a strong enough color to bring out Daryl's coloring very well. He'd do well with a stronger color, such as maroon or rust, while James would benefit from something a bit more subdued.

< /Fashion section >

Facial expression was another fun bit that Tiff and I talked about on the way home. I kept noticing the peculiarly-strained smiles, especially during the higher bits, and grinned and thought to myself, "hoist that palate!" It's exactly the expression my voice teacher has been demonstrating as a way to encourage the palate to raise so that the sound is properly produced. It's not something I noticed at the last concert I saw them in, either because I hadn't been in lessons more than six months at that point or because I was halfway back in the tent that time, and this time I was in the second row.

Everybody who wrote reviews here seems to have been clustered all together. You've read how the two in Gary & Linda's party were having their 60th wedding anniversary – they were seated right in front of me. Emily, and beyond her, Sue, were immediately on my left. (Yes, Emily, I'm the Mary who was also playing at Dublin who wrote the review on the fan site. It was good to meet you!)

The boys did Oh Danny Boy acoustically. I despise the song – it's as evil and soul-crushing an example of emotional blackmail as was ever set to music – but the harmonies did exactly what harmonies should do. There's a balance and...vocal intertwining? that is achieved when the voices blend properly, and that just doesn't usually happen when people are singing into microphones. The voices weave together to form an almost tangible fabric that surrounds and supports the audience, lifting them up. I love that sensation when I hear good, strong harmonies. ...I just wish it had been a song to which I don't
have moral objections.

And, just in case he needs "proof" that he did so, I'll add that Daryl dedicated a song to his mom, because it was her birthday.

The meet and greet was funny in a lot of ways.

First off, the women from Indianapolis – Lucille, another Mary, and Laura, I believe were their names – recognized me from my Saturday set in Dublin. They'd apparently watched some of my show before going to see the guys, who had an overlapping slot with ours. I'd completely forgotten that some guy had been harassing us on stage, and would have thought she was confusing us with another band if Tiff hadn't agreed and said it had happened. Weird. But very fun to be recognized! Made the mistake of trying to promote our CD. I realized as I said it that it was very crass of me. (Ladies, if you've joined the Yahoo group and are reading this – sorry!)

Another entertaining – mortifying? – thing that happened was the shirt comment. I had on one of my favorite shirts, a knit moss-green smock-neckline top, and Matthew after hugging me hello commented that it was very soft. Tiffany replied, "yes, she's very pettable." My own dirty mind got me in trouble. I turned to her with a look of horror, thinking, "and how the hell would she know?" From Tiff's
vantage, I looked every bit as horrified as I felt; Matthew apparently caught what I was thinking and cracked a smile; James just looked confused. (Daryl was somewhere behind me; I don't think he heard either comment.) Oy. Funny. Mortifying. But, funny...and mortifying. *shakes head*

Others have commented on Daryl sneezing – he seems to have been genuinely embarrassed about it, which is funny since no one would have particularly noticed had he not remarked on it.

At the meet & greet actually managed to have a coherent – though rather bland, as I was trying not to say anything too embarrassing – conversation with Daryl. Much better, however, than staring blankly then running away as I did at Dublin. I was sorry I neglected to talk to either Colm or Donna – I realized later that it was because I had not been introduced, nor had they come up to talk to me first. It's
scary, sometimes, how archaic my manners are unless I make conscious effort otherwise....

Oh! The jokes. I should mention the jokes.

The boys were pretty toasty – "jet lag upon jet lag upon jet lag," as Daryl commented later. This was sometimes apparent in the banter. In the intro to An Poc Ar Buille, Daryl asked if the goat's name was Billy. The audience twitched their lips or rolled their eyes a bit, then Matthew asked, "Is this an orange reference?" The audience paused deeply, thinking, "erm, nooo..." even as Daryl looked at him
and clarified, "Billy...GOAT?" Yup. Toast-y!

At another point, when talking about Finnegan's Wake, Daryl proclaimed that he was releasing a new brand of whiskey called "Lazarus." I had to bite my tongue to keep from catcalling, "I've heard that whiskey can raise a man." Trying to make the performers blush is not nice. And besides, whiskey's more likely to do the reverse.

I also liked Matthew's comment about 10,000 Tears – " `I never meant to make you pregnant,' more like". Very true, and it made me snicker as much as the CD liner notes for the same song. (Why does the phrase "love rat" make me giggle? No idea, but it does.) Speaking of 10,000 Tears – that ^$@^%$ song has been eating my brain! It did the same when I first heard it on the album, and since the concert last week it keeps popping into my head with annoying frequency. It's a wonderful song – and it's driving me nuts. (Not that there's necessarily a long way to go there....)

One of the things the guys do really well is stage interaction, both the planned stuff and the banter. They move and work together as a unit rather than a group of folks who happen to be on a stage at the same time, and it works really, really well. Likewise, Donna does really good stage movement, especially when she's not singing. During the parts when she is silent, she stays physically engaged with the
song, stays within the domain of the song even though her voice has no part of it. I liked that a lot.

Tiff and I ended up the last ones there. After the guys had gone back to rest, we put on our coats and I noticed the acoustics of the foyer. Naturally, I played with them, singing bits of whatever popped into my head. A moment later, Gary, Linda & co. popped around the corner with "what the heck was that?" expressions on their faces. They left, Tiff and I went to the bathroom, and headed out. As we were walking away from the building, I noticed I could hear our footsteps echoing, so I turned to the building and once again played with the acoustics, then continued to my car. Next to it was a van with its headlights on. The people in it, I was sure, had "caught" me fooling about. Guess who it was?

Yup. Linda and Gary.

Oh, and here are a couple of pictures - one of Tiff & I with the boys, one of Gary & Linda's group: