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2008-02-28 +03.03 Cullman and Tupelo

reviewed by Ennica

Hello to all! I have completed a whirlwind duo of visits with the Tenors. My mother and I saw the boys in Cullman, AL, on Thursday, February 28. I also saw them in Tupelo, MS, on Monday, March 3. My mother was not able to make the trip to Tupelo, but my friend, Meagan, went with me to the show. It should be noted that there was tornado weather in Tupelo the night of the show, and the audience was half the size it otherwise would have been. I asked a promoter how many came to the show, and he said 400 or 500. If the weather had been good, there would have been 700 or 800 in attendance.

The trip to Cullman started out with a road trip from Nashville to Cullman after work. My mother got home after her physical therapy, and we took to the road. Luckily, it was only a 2 hour drive, and we arrived just in time for the show. We went in and collected our complimentary tickets that I had earned by writing a "blurb" for one of the promotional articles that they had run in the newspaper. We
promptly went in and staked out front row seats.

A few minutes before the show started, a friend of ours, Alice, came into the auditorium and sought us out. We hadn't seen her since August when we were all in Dublin, Ohio, for the Irish Festival there.

It was a most welcome surprise! It was also nice to see Matt, the tour manager, for a few minutes before the show, too. He recognized me and came down to give me a hug. He's a sweet man.

Well, eventually, the show started with the introduction of Stephanie Rhodes, the Tenors' musical director while Colm is out. She's very young and very pretty, and she was completely new to me. We found out later that she's from Utah, and she proved herself to be quite good on the piano. I was very impressed with her, and I think she will have a long career.

After Stephanie's introduction, she sat down and began to play. The boys promptly bounded onto stage to sing "Belle of Belfast City" or is it "I'll Tell Me Ma"? I can't remember at this point. I've been entirely too tardy in the writing of this review. After the first song, the boys introduced themselves. I must admit that the jokes are coming along very well. I never tire of hearing that Matthew's father
wrote the Book of Kells and that "his mother colored it in." Daryl's delivery gets better and better. The audience liked it, too.

I asked Matt (the tour manager) in Tupelo for a set list, as the songs were the same in both venues. However, we both forgot and I left without one, so you'll have to forgive my lack of accuracy in the listing of songs. I do remember the boys singing some old favorites like "Danny Boy," "Shenandoah," "You Raise Me Up," "Remember Me" (to close the first half), "Still by Your Side," and closing the show with "Time to Say Goodbye." They used "Nessun Dorma" as their encore performance, and both audiences responded very well to it.

I was very impressed with the rendition of "Ten Thousand Tears," as I had never heard it done live before. Donna joined the boys onstage for this performance, and it was spectacular!!! I have always loved that song on the CD, but to hear it live is really something special. Mom and I had chills the entire song. Matthew made us laugh with his "Never meant to make you pregnant" quip during James's introduction of the song. Our boys should all be stand-up comedians. They've all got great comic timing.

There were several new songs that I hadn't heard before: "An pocar buaile" (Matthew made contact with James's behind in Tupelo on accident), "The Mad Lady and Me," and "The Holy City." Oh, my goodness!!! "The Holy City" must be recorded. Do you hear me, boys? Must be recorded!!!! It was fantastic. I had never heard the song before, and it was amazing. Likewise for "Song for Ireland." Must be recorded!!! I love that song. It's so beautiful and has such a sweet melody to it. Matthew introduces the song so well, despite the long-windedness of it. But it plays into the joke when he talks about how Irish people should be known for their gift of gab and Daryl and James gesture toward him in a knowing manner. I wouldn't have it any other way. It should be noted that both the Cullman and Tupelo audiences gave nice applause when the boys pointed out that they are a reflection of modern Ireland and how Ireland is slowly making its way toward peace and acceptance.

I want to tell you how wonderful our boys are. I know you know this, but they are the sweetest, kindest, most considerate group of men in show business. They made my mother feel like a queen for a little while. As most of you know, my mother is undergoing chemo for breast cancer right now. What you may not know is that she puts "So Strong" on repeat on her MP3 player and plays it non-stop while she's getting her chemo. She says it makes her feel better, and yes, that it makes her stronger. I had asked (through one of our moderators) that they sing "So Strong" in Cullman. I was told that it might not be possible due to the temporary musical director, but that the boys would do it if they could. Well, they opened the second half with "So Strong," and Stephanie did a fabulous job, by the way. However, my mother had gone to the restroom and was not in her seat. I saw Matthew and James obviously looking for her. All I could do was shrug helplessly and fight back tears. Little did we all know that she had heard the music and ran back into the auditorium. She didn't miss any of it, but she was in the back of the venue where James eventually spotted her. James dedicated "So Strong" to my mother and to me.

My mother loves ALL the boys, but she and James spent a little time together in Dublin, OH, at Deirdre's reception. If I'm not mistaken, she offered to adopt him. So, you can imagine what it meant to her when James delivered a rose to her during "All Out of Love." He did that on his own, without any encouragement from me. My mother started crying freely at that point. She told me later that she's
never felt more like a queen as she did that night. I wasn't able to give James the hug he deserved in Cullman, but I made up for it in Tupelo.

In Cullman and Tupelo, the audience started clapping wildly at the crescendo, not knowing that the song was not over. James promptly seized the opportunity and said, "Thank you and good night!" All three boys promptly left the stage. When the applause died down, they returned to finish the final chorus one by one, beginning with Matthew. The song was a hit with both audiences.

A word about Donna Malone: She is fantastic!! She's very young, but her voice is so mature. The songs she sang with the Tenors ("Libiamo," "Ten Thousand Tears," "Still by Your Side," and "Time to Say Goodbye") were enhanced by her performance. Cullman was the first time I had ever seen this young soprano, but I'm quite sure Tupelo won't be my last. She sang two solos: "O, Mio Babino Caro" and "Summertime." I quite enjoyed Daryl's gently teasing of her. He asked the title of her album, and she replied, "Prima." To which he responded, "Oh, as in Prima Donna?" How cute is that!?! Her dresses are stunning, too, by the way. Others have described them in much better detail than I could, so I will refer you to those reviews. I will say that the red dress is my favorite, I think.

After the show(s), we went to the lobby for a little Meet & Greet. My mother was on cloud nine all the way home. All of the boys were so genuinely concerned about how she was doing, and James had tears in his eyes as he asked me questions about her health. They actually cared. It's hard to find people like that in this world. It's no wonder we all love them so much. The first thing James asked was, "Where's your mom? Did she make it?" I was disappointed to tell him that she hadn't. Matthew also asked about her. She was just too tired to make another trip so soon after the Cullman road trip. I reassured them that we would definitely be attending a show (or six) in the Fall. My mom will be done with chemo by then, and she should have most of her hair back, too. She's already looking forward to it.

Unfortunately, this will be the last review (and last concert) for a while. My mother will not be able to make any trips for a while, so we're going to take it easy and let her recuperate from the chemo.

However, we will be going to see the boys at the first available opportunity in the fall. Until then, my thoughts are with them, as well as many grateful thanks for an unbeatable night!

With love,