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2008-07-19 Munich

reviewed by Gertraut

Just before leaving for the Viennese Westbahnhof on Friday morning, I got a mail asking me to make a couple of alterations in my manuscript for the book the publishers had for the last half year, but now – immediately – they were needed!!! So I just printed out the mail and along with a blue marker-pen I put it into my shoulder-bag and now a quick start to the railway – station followed. Since March I had had the concert ticket, the train tickets and the hotel reservation and now one problem after the other arose… well, it’s not only me that has this happening to her.

In Vienna all was wet, I don’t know what happened during the journey, I had to correct the manuscript and had no time to look out of the window, but in Munich everything was wet too. But as I arrived at the hotel, the skies cleared. Would we see an ‘Open Air-Concert’ or would we have to go into the ‘Herkules-Saal’?

Saturday morning the weather was beautiful, but the day had it’s drawbacks, trams and buses had changed their routes, because Munich celebrated ‘850 Years Munich’ and part of the streets were closed to enable pedestrians to walk the streets to all the venues. And when I asked about it, I was told that ‘it was all in the Radio in the last 14 days’ and I had to confess that I came from another country and never heard about it. So I had to do my sightseeing on foot, very healthy but very tiring. And around 100.000 other peoples did the same, only they were looking for other destinations. And in the evening the weather was still beautiful …

Oh God, was I looking forward to this concert, I only manage every other two years to see our three tenors!

Again late – in the hotel they told me I should get there in 20 minutes but it took me 40, due to the tram that drove a shortened route - I arrived in the Brunnenhof of the Residenz und I had just time to chat a little with some other fans, then a little bell was rung and it started.

Colm Henry and Robbie Overson where on the stage and to the lively tune from ‘Belle of Belfast City’ Matthew, James and Daryl mounted the stairs. Is there any better song to start such a concert? You feel like dancing yourself to’…she is courting, one, two, three; please won’t you tell me who is she…’

After this James said ‘hello’ to all the fans known to him in the audience, he thought we were to many to be named individually. And then he announced a song that I had really wanted to hear when I learned that they sing it too: Phil Colclough’s “Song for Ireland”. For me this is one of the most beautiful Irish Songs and each of the singers sung one beautiful verse and I tried to swallow my tears when they came to the ‘Dreaming in the night, I saw a land where no man has to fight’ and again when it ended with ‘I stood by your Atlantic Sea and sang a song for Ireland’…

But you can’t keep wet eyes when you hear ‘Finnegan’s Wake’, a Trad., that came next. Our three did not only sing, they tried to act part of it and never before have I heard James ‘sing’ with such a deep voice…

‘An Poc ar Buile’, sung a cappella and a little comedy played along it, do I have to say more? Half way along the song James asked us, if we had understood all so far (oh, mh, seems we have, dear James, for lovely Beate did once put the for us unspeakable lyrics on the fan-site). At first they were not at all sure in which language to announce it and Daryl opted for Dutch. But as there were Dutch people in the audience as well, it was all right…

The next one was a “Wow” –I never heard it sung by the Tenors before: ‘The Holy City’, composed by Stephen Adams and lyrics by Frederick E. Weatherly. I first read about this song in James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ of all things! (to tell the truth, I did not really understand the meaning of the book and I am no fan of it, but this has nothing to do with the song). But now I am hooked and I understand why John Harding has so praised it…

Then another of the songs I love most – Ennio Morricones ‘Nella Fantasia’ with music and lyrics to go down on your knees and it brought us Donna in a beautiful lilac dress with a wide sash on the stage, fitting beautifully into the ensemble, for James, Matthew and Daryl were wearing dark suits, white shirts and ties. Well, and then Donna wanted to explain to us the story to her next song in German but then she told it in English, for she thought we would not understand her otherwise. O Donna, who does not know Laurettas aria ‘O mio babbino caro’ from ‘Gianni Schicci’? She did sing it so beautifully…

Then all four together did sing ‘Brindisi’ from ‘La Traviata’ and they acted and flirted a little their part. You can really enjoy hearing and seeing them at it …
Then Donna left the stage and three songs from the coming new CD were announced.

‘Four Strong Winds’ by Ian Tyson, I personally liked it very much, although James told me afterwards that they have to work some more on it. It is their homage to Canada.

Then followed ‘Don’t you ever leave’. It was new to me, my ears haven’t got it yet and I do not know anything about it…

And the last one was ‘Hard Times’ by Stephen Foster and James said that it could maybe become the title-track for their new album. And it says in the refrain: ’Oh! Hard times, hard times, come again no more…’ und you may be sure, that this wish will not be granted to anyone…

But now something known and loved was announced – ‘Remember Me’, written by Phil Coulter for the Celtic Tenors especially und it accompanies them to every concert… It will – sorry to say – never go out of fashion, this song, but it is beautiful to listen to and it did convey us into the interval.

Then they were back, no ties now, a red brocade-vest for James and a yellow one for Daryl and Matthew had either forgotten his or did not want to wear it – he had his longish coat buttoned up.

At first they sang ‘Bring Him Home’ from ‘Les Misérables’, composed by Michael Schonberg. Valjean is asking God to bring back the young boy, that he loves like a son, unharmed from the battle and it is not likely I will forget their rendition. Their way of singing it made a lasting impression on me. A lovely start for the second half of the concert…

Then came ‘A Love so Beautiful, the Roy Orbison Song; we know it from the ‘So Strong’-CD. It has always been one of my best loved songs, wonderful to have it live this time…

Next came Bob Dylan’s ‘You ain’t Goin Nowhere’. I can’t remember which version of the text they have sung, there are a few, but it sounded good and then it was
Randy Newman’s ‘Marie’ and James told us, that the man singing it could only influenced by alcohol declare his love to his bride. Well, I’m not sure I would like that.. But they did sing it a cappella and it sounded good.

But then came ’10.000 Tears’, the shortened remake of the opera Butterfly, and this really is one of my best loved songs by the Tenors. Donna came to join them, wearing a short beige shimmering dress, she looked like blown onstage by the wind and her short classical duet with James was one of the highlights of this evening for me…

Right after it she sang Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’, Clara’s song from ‘Porgy and Bess’ and here I liked it. On her CD it is right after Mozart and this transition is too much for me. One of my children declared: “Never mind, mother, you just have classical ears…” and till today I don’t know whether this came to comfort me or to reprimand…

Donna left and the Tenors came back and the sky had darkened.

And with ‘The Mad Lady and Me’ from Jimmy McCarthy the first raindrops fell, so that I could not really enjoy it and then it showered down. Daryl looked at the sky and meant that they seemed to have brought the Irish Weather with them…

A part of the audience fled to the walls, James looked over our heads and said that it would stop soon and announced ‘Danny Boy’. Of course a cappella, we cannot imagine it otherwise by now, it was as beautiful as always and it was astonishing – the rain almost stopped.

The lively Folk-Song ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ followed and we applauded until we were warm again, useful, don’t you think?

But then again a very much loved song of mine ‘Caledonia’ by Maclean Dougie was announced. I think I will never tire of this beautiful song with its longing for Scotland. Everybody of us knows who will sing next of the Tenors and it feels good to be so used to this lovely song…

Well, the end of the concert seemed near, the skies were undecided and then came this Super Air Supply Number ‘ All out of Love’, which they do so fabulously. The usual little jokes were played, James behaved as if nobody loved him, and after the voiced climax he and Daryl left the stage and Matthew looked unhappy and sang after them ‘I’m all out of love, I’m so lost without you…’ and this brought first James, then Daryl with a wide smile back on to the stage. Of course we clapped as much as we could for this was a wonderful performance.

And with the comeback of Donna on to the stage in her beautiful red dress with the stole came the last song – ‘Time To Say Goodbye’ from Andrea Bocelli/Sarah Brightman. Of course we had known that at some time there will be the end, but you don’t want it to come…

After a standing ovation they came back again and telling how they know that German audiences love to sing they rehearsed with us the ‘Humming Chorus from Nessun Dorma’ on the letter ‘aaaa’. As usual somebody went wrong and of course James made it clear that Tenors don’t like us to sing into their verse (but we don’t do it on purpose, we are just not in training, dear James!) and Daryl enlightened us about the Sopranos always dying in the last act of the operas (seems they have sung into their Tenor’s lines). But then they were satisfied with our performance and started ‘Nessun Dorma’ in earnest, then we were allowed to do our share and it sounded good to my ears! And with a last triumphant ‘Vincerò! this aria from Puccinis ‘Turandot’ ended… Beautiful, so beautiful…

But now the skies had decided in our disfavour. We applauded until the Tenors came back once more and they started the ‘one more’, this time the ‘Irish Rover’, this lively Irish Trad., James’ Dog got help, for a little one from the audience added another bark and then it ended, for it started to rain in earnest.

For the meet & greet we fled under the big party-umbrellas and friendly and good humoured as always the Tenors asked for names, made small talk, had their pictures taken with fans and Donna came too. I was happy about that, two years before I had missed her in Dublin. So I could talk to her a little. And we waited patiently for James, Matthew and Daryl until most of the people were gone and then we fans had them alone under the big umbrellas, for then it was raining cats and dogs, with some thunder thrown in. So we could quietly talk about Baby Gilsenan No. 3, about James’ little Joseph and Daryl told us that they planned – God willing – a German tour next year… for none of us wanted to get out from under this providential umbrellas and leave.

Then the rain ceased momentarily and we left, wasn’t it a lark to get to the Underground!!! For about 100.000 wet inhabitants from Munich wanted to do the same. I had to wait then for a long time for my tram, it didn’t want to come.
When one arrived eventually, it was crammed with people and suddenly I felt a pair of hands around my ankle and then something bit me into my calf! Obviously, as the tram was so packed with people, I had put my foot on the treasured plush-groundhog of a little inhabitant of Munich that had fallen down to the very wet and dirty floor and he certainly wanted it back! I gave the mother a plastic-bag when we had retrieved it, for the treasure looked a little unappetizing and so my Munich-Evening ended in laughter instead of feeling a little blue because it was over…

It was wonderful, dear James, dear Matthew, dear Daryl, dear Donna, dear Colm and Robbie, please come back, will you?!?


As always,
Yours, Gertraut (or Traude) from Vienna