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2008-11-02 Nobber Co. Meath, Carty Hall

reviewed by Beate

 

Theres no better frame to a Celtic Tenors concert than a sunny afternoon... especially not if driving to the venue means criss-crossing one of my favourite landscapes on the island, the Boyne Valley. Seriously, the area around the Boyne, and then up to the north of county Meath, is really beautiful, especially with all the colours of autumn! So those drives never disappointment me, and never cease to fascinate me either.

 

Nobber is a small enough town, so finding the venue was absolutely no problem, and the organisation committee had done great work with the signposting too. Carty Hall was a venue with room for about 250 people, nicely set up, with a small stage, good acoustics, and nice lighting. And it was sold out, too.

 

There were two opening acts for the Celtic Tenors, unfortunately I saw (and heard) very little of them as I wasnt in the hall at that time yet. But I managed at least a short glimpse at the second act, a young man from Navan (one of the tenors will have to help out here, I think his name was Andrew, but I could be mistaken), who had his first big solo appearance, and from what I can judge, not his last. He was fabulous!

I got to watch the concert from a little gallery, almost like a balcony, which was a little bit of an unusual angle, but great nonetheless. Plus, as an added bonus, I had Donna for company, something I really really enjoyed.

 

The tenors opened with "Spanish Lady" and they did not really need long to have the audience in the palms of their hands. And Colm was brilliant, too  from my little viewing point above the audience and the stage, the way his fingers were simply flying over those piano keys was even more impressive than it usually is from below. Next to follow was "You raise me up", and the mere announcement of the song was already greeted with sighs and oooohs from the listeners.

 

Back to more "tempo" with "Finnegans wake", then a venture into Irish with "An poc are buile", followed by one of my all-time favourites, "The holy city". And then, I have to admit, it was a little strange to see and hear the tenors perform "Nella Fantasia" with Donna standing next to me, while quite naturally I was expecting her on stage any second. However I had the added bonus of her humming along!

 

And then... those of you who have been following the tenors for quite some time will remember that a while back, they all used to do solos during the concerts. It has been dropped for a while, but I am VERY happy to see this "tradition" back, especially when it means a tenor on the piano accompanying himself! First to go was Daryl, who told how he used to sit on the piano and sing when he was younger, and that especially after his sports injury, during all the time in hospital, playing the piano helped him a lot, and that he used to play the song he was now doing in the concert quite regularly back then  I really hope this is going to be a part of many concerts to come, because his interpretation of "Carrickfergus" was absolutely stunning. Or to put it differently, it has been a while since I was in tears at a Celtic Tenors concert...

 

"Irish Rover"  complete with dog and splash  was then followed by the first section of songs from the new CD: "Hard Times", "Four strong winds", and "Shenandoah" without microphones. The first half then ended with "Remember me".

 

The intermission lasted for quite some time  as this was a charity gig, there was a raffle going on, and I think the sale of raffle tickets exceeded all expectations so took much longer than anticipated. Again, I did not get much of the draw, but I did hear about one of the prices, which was two tickets for the National Concert Hall in December... So well see two lucky people from Nobber there!

 

Back to the concert, the tenors had worn their black suits in the first half, now they

came back in brand new black velvet jackets  each the same on the outside, but VERY distinctive on the inside with the lining in different colours: Colms golden, Daryls bright green, Jamess a bright purple, and Matthews a bright yellow. And I do mean bright... but they are really really lovely!

 

The tenors opened the second half with "So strong", followed by "Star of the County Down", and one song I am absolutely happy to have back in the programme after a long absence, "A love so beautiful". Thats music to simply get lost in... and I assume most of the audience did exactly that, because it was so quiet, you could have heard a pin drop.

 

After that, it was time for two more songs from the new album, and the tenors started off with "You aint going nowhere". And then, following in the re-established tradition of solos, it was Jamess turn to sit down at the piano. He said that the next song was very well-known from "Moulin Rouge", but that the composer, David Baerwald, had originally written this as a lullaby for his new-born child: "Come what may". And well, if Daryl had already moved me deeply, then James continued right in those tracks. On this one, I am quite sure that it will remain in the programme for a while given its on the new CD, so all of you who have not seen it yet  you are really in for something special.

 

Next was "The mad lady and me", and... on to the next solo, just a little different this time as Colm stayed on the piano for Matthews song, and not only that, he also did the background singing in "Fearless Love". And slowly but surely, I am running out of superlatives here once again, but there is no doubt that this was equally special and as moving as the other solos had been that night, and Matthews and Colms voices together were just perfect.

 

The song that followed, "Ill tell me Ma", is usually quite lovely in itself, but it gets even more special when the tenors follow it up with... yes... their own personal Riverdance section! Again I was lucky to stand on that gallery, and watch every single detail of the delicate footwork, and I wasnt the only one in the audience who enjoyed this "special" tremendously. Actually, the tenors recalled that they did this as a gag in one of their recent shows abroad, but did not get much reaction out of the audience who thought it was a serious part of the show, and who obviously were giving them a very polite round of applause!

 

Back to more familiar territory with "Caledonia" and "Whiskey in the jar", before it was "Time to say goodbye". Again, I was kind of expecting Donna to appear on stage at some point... and not to stand next to me the whole time!

 

The tenors got their first standing ovation after this song, much deserved, and people almost literally jumped to their feet. And if that was loud, then the encore  "Nessun Dorma" with audience support, triggered a response which almost brought the roof down and people were on their feet again before the song had ended. And thus the tenors had to do a second encore, "Irelands call", and even after that the applause went on for quite a while!

 

The meet and greet was lovely, I think almost everyone stopped to have a word with the guys, or get something signed, and it was smiling faces all around, and a very great atmosphere.

 

And to come back to the lovely landscape... it was very dense fog when I got back to my car. Add in the fact that it was very late and that I had to drive along quiet country roads, it almost took me twice the time to get home as I had anticipated. But again, even with fog and the streets literally empty, the landscape especially around the river Boyne itself had something... okay, this is probably cheesy, but I cant come up with a better word than "mystical". So I even enjoyed my crawling speed  and I am simply ignoring the fact that I am very tired today!