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2009-02-13 Dunedin, Florida

reviewed by Susan

 
I'm not going to repeat the little jokes that the Celtic Tenors did, because I don't want to spoil the concert for anyone who is planning to see them soon.

The drive north into the city of Dunedin is beautiful, with rows of tall sabal palms lining both sides of the street and the Gulf of Mexico on the left. Parts of the city almost have a New England feel in the style of the homes and the white picket fences surrounding front yards. I'm going back earlier tomorrow so we can check out the interesting looking shops before the concert.

The concert was at the Comny Center, located on the grounds Out Lady of Lourdes RC Church. I had a VIP ticket, which included a cocktail hour. As I sat with my glass of white zinfandel, Linda came over to greet me while her husband Gary stood in the food line. She pointed him out, and Gary and I waved at each other
across the room. All three of us were wearing our Tom Tully tags, so Linda found me right away. She pointed out Maggie Mae's cousin, who was sitting at their table. At my table I spoke with a charming couple from Crystal River, Florida, who had never seen the tenors before. I didn't see them afterwards. I would have liked to have heard what they thought of the concert.

The VIP section was the first five rows, and we were seated a half hour before the concert started. Since I was alone, I grabbed an odd seat in the first row, sitting next to two sisters who are down from Oakville, Ontario, Canada for the winter. They told me that they were very excited because the Celtic Tenors had never been
there before and they heard that they were wonderful. After the concert was over I asked them what they thought of it, and they were absolutely beaming. I was at the last seat on the left, so the piano was right in front of me. Up on stage Matt was double checking everything.

Colm was announced and came out in a black suit. He started to play REMEMBER ME, and I thought, "wow, my second favorite, what a great start to the concert!" He has one of those stubbly beards that are so popular, and it looked good.

Then the CT were announced and came bounding out in black suits, white shirts and patent leather shoes, each fellow wearing a gray tie in a different shade. They started with a rousing SPANISH LADY.

Each of them introduced himself, where he was from, and a little bit about that area. I noticed that James kept wiping his brow and upper lip. At first I was afraid he wasn't feeling well, but I guess it was coming from wintry Ireland to hot Florida. This was the first day of their North American tour.

Then they did THE TOWN I LOVED SO WELL. They do it with such feeling. Next came FINNEGAN'S WAKE, followed by the red-headed girl song, AN COLEEN RUA I'm probably spelling that wrong, but you know which song I mean.

Next was THE HOLY CITY. Oh wow! I had forgotten how much I loved that one too. While they were singing I thought James looked right at me and raised his eyebrows in recognition. Did he really recognize me, I wondered? I wasn't sure, but I gave him my brightest smile. Next they said that they had sung several versions
of AVE MARIA and it had been suggested that they sing one of the ordinary ones, so they sang the Bach version.

They were all in good voice and very animated, but poor James was still wiping his forehead and upper lip. At one point he commented, "I see why you have air conditioning in Florida. For song number eight Darryl sat at the piano, accompanying himself on CARRICKFERGUS. I'm probably spelling that one incorrectly as
well, but the performance was simply wonderful. Before the song he explained how a severe rugby accident changed his career path from rugby to music.

Next came a very lively version of IRISH ROVER, with James howling plaintively as the poor drowning dog. Then, with Darryl on acoustic guitar and Matthew shaking some little rattle-type thing to accompany him, they sang a Stephen Foster song, HARD TIMES COME AGAIN NO MORE, the title of their newest CD. I liked it a lot.

After that they did a shout out to John Birner (spelling?) of Illinois and Gary and Linda from Champaign, and James mentioned how sick Gary had been.

They announced that they were going to do a Canadian song I had never heard before, FOUR STRONG WINDS, as the many Canadians in the audience voiced their approval. They did it beautifully, and the Canadians showed their appreciation.

Song number 12 was SHENANDOAH, a capella and no microphones.

The final song before the intermission was REMEMBER ME. I was afraid that because Colm had played it at the beginning of the show, I wouldn't hear it again, so I was delighted. They dedicated it to service men and women.

INTERMISSION

During the intermission Father Gary came out to say that the tenors had left and he was going to do the second half. He attempted a couple of notes, accompanied by much laughter from the audience. He has the most beautiful English-accented speaking voice. The sisters next to me said that he's from their family's hometown which is about 15 miles to the north of London, but I don't remember the name. He announced that there was going to be a 50-50 raffle, so I wanted out to the lobby to look around. There were stacks of the new CD for sale, so I grabbed one for Dutchess and one for me. They also had some large posters advertising the event. They were approximately 11 x 15 and the lady behind the table said I could have one. At the right side of the table was a large photo album of James' Kenya project, which people were leafing through. Then I went to buy a bottle of water and wandered back to take my seat.

Colm came out wearing a black velvet jacket. Then the CT walked out wearing black velvet jackets and open neck white shirts with French cuffs. Are the longer jackets called frock coats? I could tell that they had colorful linings. Looking like a flasher, Matthew opened his jacket, which was lined with vivid yellow. James' jacket was lined with red, which was almost a magenta. Darryl said he wouldn't open his jacket, so James asked Colm to open his. Colm's was a pale peach/gold color. Then Daryl relented and showed his lining, which was kelly green. Matthew said they got them in Dubaj.

Their 16th song of the evening was SO STRONG. Daryl then announced that they were going to do Roy Orbison's A LOVE SO BEAUTIFUL for Valentine's Day.

Next they sang what Matthew called the party track of the new CD and explained why. Let's just say that the explanation involved vodka. With Daryl on guitar and Matthew using that rattle thing, they sang a song by "that wonderful Irish composer, Bob Dylan." It was YOU AIN'T GOING NOWHERE.

Following that, James sat at the piano and accompanied himself while singing COME WHAT MAY. It's one of those romantic songs where you just want to close your eyes and listen to the words. Which I only did a couple of times, because I wanted to watch James play.

Next came Jimmy McCarthy's THE MAD LADY, with Darryl on guitar. Before they sang the song James and Matthew agreed that Jimmy must have been "bonkers" when he wrote the song.

Song number 20 was Dylan O'Brien's FEARLESS LOVE, and the lads dedicated it to their families. Matthew mentioned leaving his wife and three children at home and said that Rosie was just six months of age. It's another song I hadn't heard before and enjoyed very much.

Next was BELLE OF BELFAST CITY, during which James executed a couple of surprising Riverdance-type high kicks.

After that was CALEDONIA, before which they called for a show of hands of any Scots in the audience.

Next was an extremely lively WHISKEY IN THE JAR, with us doing our fancy 4,2 hand clapping.

The 24th next song was DANNY BOY, sung a capella and again with no microphones. They said that they had sung it at 8 am on Spirit FM radio.

Then they spoke a while before the last song, thanking Matt "from Fargo, North Dakota," for being their accountant, lawyer, CD lady, psychologist, etc. They said it was about 3:00 am back in Ireland.

They'll be singing briefly on Saturday at the 5:00 Mass at the church.

The final song was TIME TO SAY GOODBYE. James did that eyebrow thing in my direction again. Hmm. Maybe I do look familiar to him. James, rose in hand, walked to the center of the first row and knelt down before a tiny white-haired lady as he sang to her and presented a rose. It was adorable to watch. Next Matthew walked a few rows back and handed his rose to a nun connected with the church. I wonder if perhaps she's from an African order of nursing nuns, as she was all in white. Lastly, Darryl walked up the aisle next to me and presented his rose to an auburn=haired lady in the third row. As he walked away she sat there looking absolutely stunned.

We gave then a standing ovation, and they began to walk off of the stage. Matthew turned and asked us if we wanted another song. OF COURSE WE DID!

So they came back out to instruct us in our role in NESSUN DORME. Of course it took a couple of takes, and I think it was one of the sisters next to me who got a warning from James, but we finally sounded quite good.

END OF SHOW. Father Gary thanked us for attending and said that there were no VIP tickets left for Saturday but that there were plenty of general tickets and we should bring our friends and family to the second concert.

On a scale of 1-10, I'd give the concert a 15. Their voices were flawless, their energy was boundless, and Colm's playing was masterful. Even though I had my camera, I didn't take any photos because the tenors were always surrounded by clusters of people, but I'll make sure that I take some photos tomorrow evening.

Later, out in the lobby, the tenors mingled with people and signed autographs. Not a great many people stayed for the Meet and Greet, but I understand that the Saturday show will have a much larger audience. James spotted me and called out, "Susan, I didn't know you were going to be here. A little later he and Linda walked over and James said again that he didn't know I'd be there. He asked if maybe I'd have felt uncomfortable with a shout out, and I admitted that that was probably true. I said I had only mentioned it in the group a couple of days ago. I briefly whined that I didn't hear my very favorite song, but I understand that it's still winter. He looked at me a second and then realized that I was referring to SUMMER OF MY DREAMS. The little white-haired lady was happily walking around with her red rose, and the tenors posed for photos with her. Across the room, Matt, the man of many roles, was observing all of us, checking to make sure that all was well. YesMatt, it was.