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2008-08-19 Spindale, NC, USA

reviewed by Robin

 
Remember, I don't do "reviews"....I do "recaps" and "reactions!"
 
Oh where do I begin?  Lets start with the trip to Spindale!  As a couple of you know, Ive been anxiously awaiting a telephone call for several weeks now.  A telephone call that could potentially change life as I know it.  Last month, I interviewed with the North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety for the job of Emergency Management Officer.  Yesterday, nearly halfway between Dortches and Spindale, in crazy traffic on Interstate 40, I received the phone call Ive been waiting for.  I GOT THE JOB!! 
 
So after politely accepting the position, thanking the lady profusely for calling, and darting across four lanes of traffic to narrowly avoid missing my exit, I hung up the phone and immediately began celebratory screaming with my mom and two "aunties."  (Explanation to follow!)
 
Upon arriving at our hotel in Marion (about 35 miles from the venue), I immediately sent out a mass email to all of my immediate and not-so-immediate family about the good news, then placed a big banner on my MySpace page and changed the song on my page to Andrea Bocelli singing "Time To Say Goodbye."  I figured that it was much more polite than Johnny Paychecks "Take This Job and Shove It!" but accomplished about the same message.  And since three gentlemen I know and love havent recorded "Time To Say Goodbye" (hint, hint), I had to go with Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, who run a close second in my book!  
 
Now, on to the concert itself.  I had seen pictures of the CTs first appearance at Spindale, so I knew the stage itself would be very pretty, but I was really surprised at how beautiful the whole auditorium was.  A large lower-level and a huge balcony, plus two levels of what I can only describe as box-seating along both side walls&each box holding 4-8 seats.  The backdrop of the stage featured billowing curtains all bathed in soft red and blue light.  The CTs logo was projected onto the center curtain, very small and towards the top.  Noticeable, but elegant and understated.  Three tall columns toward the back of the stage added even more dimension to the whole area.   The piano was sitting to the left, as it usually is, but appeared to me to be positioned differently.  In past concerts, I remember it being positioned so that our brilliantly talented musicians have been facing dead-on center stage, right arm towards the audience.  This time,  though, it appeared that Colm would be facing more towards the back of the stage than Im used to, almost with his back to the crowd.  I was somewhat concerned that we wouldnt be able to see anything other than his back, and to me watching the emotion on his face as he gets caught up in the music is half the enjoyment.  Face it, close your eyes and listen&.sounds great.  But watching him feel it as well as play it is mesmerizing!  Turns out, though, that I was wrong on the placement&.this was a brilliant stage arrangement!  Not only could I clearly see Colms face the whole time, I was able to see his hands as well&.art in motion!  I dont know if youve ever just watched him play, but next time you attend a concert&take a moment!  You wont regret it.
 
I had scored awesome second-row-center seats, which made me nervous when I sat down and ended up eye-level with the stage.  My first thought was, I hope they shined their shoes!  The seats were great, though.  The stage was deep enough that we didnt have to strain our necks like I had anticipated.  And their shoes really did look good!
 
As you all know, I dont keep up with song lists&.way too caught up in the moment.  But I do remember a few highlights&.opened with "The Spanish Lady/Maries Wedding," which Id never seen live.  One of my favorite recordings, and I loved it live!  Whiskey in the Jar, which is always fun.  Beautiful a cappella renditions of Shenandoah and Danny Boy.  I always love that as the last note ends on each of these songs, there is that brief moment where it sounds as if youre in a vacuum&.absolute silence.  Then there is a collective and audible gush of air as every single audience member realizes theyve been holding their breath!  Priceless!  To our Canadian friends, I am now also a huge fan of Four Strong Winds!  The Holy City became one of my new favorites when I first heard it live back in May, and it moved even higher up the list last night.  Remember Me, Nella Fantasia, Ave  Maria with Donna&.all beautiful! 
 
A very sneaky Tenor (Ill not call any names, but rumor has it hes the most avid ABBA fan to ever come out of Sligo) took me completely by surprise with an extremely heartfelt dedication.  Hard Times is a song that I fell completely in love with the first time I heard the guys sing it last May.  With the news that came yesterday about my new job, and the fact that I can finally walk away from one that has been making me miserable for the better part of two years, the song already had tremendous meaning for me last night.  THEN that certain unnamed Tenor said some very kind things and talked about how our church has helped at Cheryls by saying that for at least a few children, &hard times will come again no more, as they dedicated that song to my mom, my two aunties (they LOVED being called that, and kept calling each other that the rest of the trip!), and me.  I bawled through the entire song! 
 
Ok, moving on, or Im liable to start crying again!  (Thank you guys&that meant the world!)
 
I loved all of the new songs, and am even more excited now for the new album than I was before!  They did sneak one new one in on us that I dont think Ive heard mentioned here before, a Kris Kristofferson number called The Pilgrim.  Loved it, loved it, loved it!  Not like much of anything Ive heard them sing before, but along with Randy Newmans Marie, it shows a whole other playful, rock-y, edgy side of the group.  Seriously&loved it!  Also love the addition of Daryl on guitar for the new songs.  He is so in his element, showing his inner rock star! 
 
Last night was the last international appearance with the CTs for the beautiful and talented Donna Malone, as she will be returning to her studies in September.  She will be greatly missed by this fan and many others, Im sure.  She wowed the crowd with O Mio Babbino Caro, and Summertime.  (Not only will I miss Donnas singing, but I love hearing Colm play that song...I love the jazz sound!)  Then came the second (or third?  Fourth??) tear-jerker of the evening.  As "Time To Say Goodbye" began, I started to tear up again, for many reasons.  The most obvious being that we all know that's nearly the end of the concert.  But I was also thinking back to how I'm using that song as my theme in walking away from a career that I have given my everything for the better part of a decade now.  While the past few months there have been awful for me, I can't ignore the good things I've been a part of for so long....I've delivered babies over  the phone, I've helped capture fugitives, I've worked high-speed pursuits, and one of my most memorable...I stayed on the phone talking to a lady having a heart attack for over 45 minutes while ambulance personnel tried to find her.  She died long before they got there, but I'm thankful that I was able to be there for her on the phone...nobody should have to die alone.  I've loved what I've done for many years.  Those are the things I hate to walk away from.  So the song hit me on MANY levels last night in Spindale. 
 
And then, as I had finally managed to control myself and enjoy the song, Donna comes out for her part, and I think the finality of it hit her because it was a very emotional performance for her.  As she stood on the stage with tears streaming down her face, I couldnt help but cry with her.  When she finally made it out to see us after the M&G, off we all went again!  My mom uttered what we consider the Southern US womans phrase that cures all that ails you, Bless your heart, Honey! and grabbed Donna in a big motherly hug.  Which didnt help the tears for either one of them, let me tell you.  It was a very emotional goodbye, but I know that she will go on to great things, and I cant wait to see her again someday&weve not heard the last of her, I pray!
 
Wonderful M&G&long line to purchase cds and get autographs (they signed my aunts to Auntie Dorothy&.it was great!)  Matthew, when you go on about the many roles of Matt Svobodny, you must now add bouncer or loss-prevention associate.  Apparently the guy in front of my aunt forgot to pay for his cd, and Matt interjected with a firm but (mostly) polite, Excuse me!  She found the whole thing entirely amusing! 
 
When we got back to the hotel, we all sat around having a few pints and talking about what a wonderful night it was.  Yet again, we had someone with us who had not previously been to a CTs concert and she couldn't decide which she was more impressed by...how talented they all are, or how kind.  I told her I've known them for nearly two years, and I haven't figured that one out yet, either!
 
Wow&.long recap and reaction, and it still doesnt do justice to the amazing evening and the memories that I hope will stay fresh in my mind until I can at long last see them all again....whenever that may be!
 
Much love to each and every one of you!
Robin
 
P.S.  Sorry, but I have no pictures to post.  The M&G was in a huge lobby, and I don't think we were all standing together at any point!