|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.
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.
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.
As always there were some fun bits like the aforementioned 7 Drunken Nights.
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.
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.
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 David Munro|
|with Emmet before the show|
|with Michael and Ryan|