Saturday, August 27, 2016

Celtic Thunder Legacy - The tour!

                                      Celtic Thunder Legacy

Ryan, Damian, Neil, Emmet and Michael

When the tour was first announced, I have to admit I went back and forth about getting a ticket. I saw this same show last year when they did a short run of it and while I enjoyed it, I wasn't sure I wanted to take the time to do it again. I've been following Celtic Thunder since they first came onto the scene usually seeing two shows each tour. I decided to go one last time figuring it was time for me to move on.

For those of you who haven't been following the CT news, there have been quite a few changes in the line-up. Colm Keegan has taken a year off to finish his Master's Degree in Education at the University of Glasgow. He also married Laura Durrant, CT's cellist who took time off to finish her teaching degree as well, so there is no cello on this tour. Emmett O'Hanlon who came on for the Christmas tour 2014 and the short tour (2015) has gone on to an internship with an opera company in Chicago. The big news of course is that after 10 years on the road with Celtic Thunder, Keith Harkin has said adieu, gotten married and is currently on his own tour. Truthfully, Keith's leaving was one of the big reasons I was on the fence about this tour. Dave Bakey who played guitar for the past few tours has gone and Conal Early has taken his place. Other changes in the band are the return of Barry Kerr on pipes, whistles and guitar and Charlie Foley on bass. David Munro as musical director is onstage as well as a new keyboardist named Cian Sweeny. Rounding the band out is Declan O'Donoghue on drums.  Now, the good thing is Emmet Cahill has returned as has original member Damian McGinty - both are talented and fun guys and add to the show vocally. The new lad, who is taking Keith's place is Michael O'Dwyer and I admit I was very interested to see how he fit it and what his voice was like.
Michael O'Dwyer

I was truly happy they were playing in Albany, NY which is close by - for the first time in years I didn't have to travel and get a hotel, a big plus! I went up early for sound check which is always fun. For me its not so much about watching the process - having done so many shows myself, I am well aware of what is or isn't done. What I do love about it is that you can as many photos as you like and as an amateur photographer, this speaks to me.  We received a lanyard with a guest pass and an autographed program which was a bit different than I expected. While the guys signed the front, the inside of the program was all about the people behind the scene including the band.

Ryan Kelly
I must admit it was a little strange to see no scenery on the stage, I have gotten used to the larger sets they have used in past shows. This time the downstage area was simply set with a few speakers in the front and the band was set upstage. As I mentioned there was no cello this time and instead of the large harp Seana Davey usually uses, there was a small harp which  she played standing up. To be honest, I really felt the lack of the deep tones of the cello, everything sounded a bit bright and I really hope next tour Laura is back.

Seana Davey

They began with Heartland minus the coats they used to wear which was a plus!  All seemed in fine form vocally and the mix was good. I sat in the 5th row stage right for the first half, then moved to an unused seat in the center in row 2.  There were a few times the sound overpowered the performance, but they were few and far between. One thing about attending one of the first nights in a show is that things like this are being worked on continually until everything is the best it can be. It did not detract from their performances at all.  I am not going to go into detail about every song they sang as I like to leave some surprises for those who haven't gone yet. They did of course include Life with You in honor of George Donaldson, an original member who has since passed away. I did notice that Michael's voice fit well with the others and was similar to Keith's. Emmet sang baritone on a lot of the songs as did Damian with some of his incredible bass notes added in.
Neil Byrne
Neil of course was up to his old tricks and absolutely hilarious during 7 Drunken Night. I always think he can't possibly ham it up any more than he already has, but I was SO wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed his Carolina Rua, which for me is the song he does best. It was interesting that they did not include his drum battle with Declan this tour, but Declan had fun all by himself and everyone loved it! I should also mention there were no solos with dancing by Nicole Hudson which I really missed. On the short Legacy tour last year, I saw Emmet O'Hanlon and Ryan Kelly do That's a Woman and was looking forward to seeing Emmet Cahill tackle it. Sadly it was not to be, nor was Heartbreaker, two of my favorite songs. Ryan did sing Desparado, a song he has really made his own as well as Streets of New York.
As always there were some fun bits like the aforementioned 7 Drunken Nights.
Nicole Hudson
Place in the Choir had the guys up to their usual antics and choreography.  Just watch what happens to poor Michael after the second chorus! You always have to be on your guard when the craic starts to fly! The funniest song of the night hands down goes to Damian as he recreates a Neil Sedaka tune with some new back-up singers. Emmet brought a rousing My Irish Molly with a few new photos in the background, dimples and sly looks flying and as always the longest note held in the business! In the four years he has been with Celtic Thunder, I have watched his already gifted voice grow into its own and I believe there wasn't a dry eye in the house with Danny Boy or Innisfree.
Damian's voice has also grown richer over the years and he has really learned to use his falsetto well.

So, that leaves us with Michael O'Dwyer. As I said earlier, I have been a huge fan of Keith's from the beginning and couldn't imagine the show without his beautiful tenor voice.
Damian McGinty
Barry Kerr

Let me tell you right now that as usual, Sharon Browne has worked her magic in hiring Michael and taking him under her wing. I first heard him as I came in for sound check working on Now We are Free. What a beautiful voice he has! I know some of Keith's fans are going to say no one can replace him, but it isn't about replacing him, its about the music and what it does to your spirit. While he was a bit nervous singing The Dutchman, (with Emmet Cahill on background vocals), he eased effortlessly into Now We are Free. It wasn't until I Wanna Know What Love Is that he showed his full potential. His voice absolutely soared with his amazing licks and I think he definitely won the crowd over.
Ireland's Call and the famous kilt twirls went over a treat with the audience out of their seats and dancing and their encore of Still Haven't Found what I'm Looking For  really left us all wishing that the concert would go on and on.
Emmet Cahill

After the show we went backstage for the VIP experience. Once again we received a program made for the event, but this time it was about the performers, and we also received a rubber bracelet.
  This year's idea was really fun. Ryan and Michael came in to play Mad-Libs with us in two teams. I was on Michael's  team and I think the funniest thing he said was when a noun was needed he yelled, "I have one - Cabbage!" and we all cracked up. Next was pictures with the guys and the opportunity to sign a special tour book.                        

with Neil
with David Munro

with Emmet before the show
with Michael and Ryan

 Am I glad I went????     You betcha I am! Don't miss it! Tickets available through