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2013-07-27 Sligo

James has shared a review from John and Mavis, long time CT fans, who attended the concert at the Radisson Blu in Sligo

The magnificent setting of the Radisson Blu Hotel in Sligo was the venue for a wonderful concert by The Celtic Tenors on July 27th. 2013 in aid of the North West Parents and Friends Association. They are a voluntary organisation providing person-centred services for children & adults with special needs and their families and the Celtic Tenors were delighted to be able to help to raise funds on their behalf.

What a lovely hotel and centre is the Radisson Blu -- located just half way between Sligo town and Rosses Point, overlooking the Garavogue Estuary and arriving in plenty of time for the 8p.m. start, Mavis and I, with our visitors from Chester, Ron & Helen Glenn were able to enjoy a couple of drinks in the lounge before the show. Browsing through the restaurant menu, we wished we had been even earlier and had allowed time for a meal.

Now to the concert itself -- what a night we had! We are avid supporters of the Celtic Tenors and have attended many of their shows both in the UK and in Ireland over the last few years. Without fail and concert by concert, each one is special and each one is even better than the last one. The Radisson Blu was no exception.

The boys exploded into action with Red Haired Mary - now a regular part of their programme and got us all immediately involved. They followed up with the Linda Ronstadt hit -- Feels Like Home, a great choice in this year of the Gathering when so many of our emigrants are experiencing their homes & roots again. A new addition to the programme then followed -- the Rocky Road to Dublin -- made famous by the Dubliners and a song that our boys have been planning to include for some time.

An Cailin Rua is a beautiful love song in Irish originating on Donegal, but performed by Skara Brae, an Irish folk group from Matthew's part of Ireland -- Co Meath. The Irish theme was continued with the haunting music of She Moved through the Fair, which was sung a cappella and without amplification, to a rapturous response from the packed audience. A complete contrast again brought the familiar rendition of La Donna e Mobile, from Verdi's Rigoletto and the now familiar Going Home.

James's Solo this evening was particularly poignant and moving as he played and sang for us the beautiful "Gortnamona" by Percy French which is the special favourite song of his father, who is currently very ill. One of the special qualities of The Celtic Tenors is their ability to involve their audience in their own personal lives and experiences, joys and sorrows and makes them not just performers but friends.

Again a complete change of tone, with Eric Claptons Lay Down Sally, when James manages to embarrass and enthral a random lady in the audience with his amorous advances, ably supported by Matthew and Daryl. Stephen Foster's Hard Times, from their recent American themed CD followed - again another standard which is an essential part of their show.

Then came, what for me was the highlight of the whole concert -- a new song piece which has to be standard for the future and I hope they get to record it soon. The song is about an elderly couple living in Amsterdam, Margaret and the title character. The unnamed Dutchman is growing old, forgetful and confused and Margaret cares for him with a sadness over what has happened to him over the years. It's a story of unconditional love. The little tot of whiskey in his tea keeps away the due. "Long ago, I used to be a young man and dear Margaret remembers that for me" A very special and memorable moment!

I was a little worried that Recuerdame did not conclude the first half of the show - I thought they were not going to sing it -- but more of that later, for the boys brought the first half to a close with an exciting and vibrant rendition of Libiamo from Verdi's La Traviata.

The location of the lounge alongside the auditorium made for a very enjoyable opportunity to indulge in further libations to fortify us for the second half which started with I'll Walk with God, from The Student Prince, made famous by Mario Lanza. Another vibrant and exhilarating launch for this session.

Mary Blacks's No Frontiers followed and then the Boys reverted to Scottish Gaelic for their stunning version of Fionnghuala -- I'm always amazed how Matthew, Daryl & James can get their tongues around so many syllables in such a short time -- & together!! "Eileannambothannambothan, Eileannambothannambothan, Ambothanabh'aig Fionnghuala."

Then came Daryl's rendition of Better -- another example of what was originally a great performance and it still improves with every presentation. Daryl's relaxed guitar style so compliments his voice and gives another dimension to the group. Bob Dylan's You Ain't Going Nowhere came next and is a constant favourite.

Matthew's unique and beautiful interpretation of Declan O'Rourkes Galileo yet again was received with prolonged applause which was made even more special by the presence of his wife and family in the auditorium. -- despite much encouragement, the children would not join him on stage. The ethereal mood was maintained by the beautiful Brian Kennedy song You Raise Me Up.

We were all brought back to earth with a bump with the raucous I'll Tell My Ma and the Traditional Scottish Westering Home - one of my own father's party pieces, into which he was apt to launch with minimal encouragement on numerous occasions.

One of the major highlights of any Celtic Tenors Concert has to be Recuerdame -- the song of the soldier remembering his love while immersed in the Spanish Civil War, composed specially for the Celtic Tenors by Phil Coulter and performed so passionately by James, Daryl & Matthew. This has been the conclusion of the first half of their show for a long time where they dedicate its performance as a tribute to all those who serve away from home in the forces of their homeland.

As we neared the end of the concert, we enjoyed the American folk song - Shenandoah and then it was the end -- with the story of the time (not tonight) that Matthew decided to dedicate a song for an elderly lady in the audience and announced that she was 97 years of age so the song he dedicated was "Time To Say Good-bye" -- Always tactful to the last! But still a lovely song and a fitting climax to the show.

Of course we had an encore: the boys gave us a choice of Danny Boy & All Out Of Love -- I thought Danny Boy had won on a show of hands but apparently not -- so we had a dramatic rendition of the latter with Daryl and James doing a mock exit, allowing Matthew to call them back for a final verse.

Well deserved and repeated standing ovations all around and another classic concert from our friends, The Celtic Tenors -- Come back again soon!! I still think we could have had Danny Boy as well, though!