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Celtic Woman Puts On A Touching Show

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:49 pm    Post subject: Celtic Woman Puts On A Touching Show Reply with quote

Riverdance may have defined Irish entertainment a decade ago but Celtic Woman may take it in another direction – one that’s part pageant, part Broadway and all Branson.

Performing at the Tyson Events Center (one of the few ports in Sunday’s storm), the lush show featured three singers (a fourth has left the group) and a bouncy fiddler who cut a wide swath through traditional Irish songs and new hymns of hope and inspiration.

Dressed like bridesmaids, the four effortlessly moved from one anthem to another while six back-up singers shifted in the background.

The one who came closest to Riverdancing was Máiréad Nesbitt, the violinist who jumped so high it was amazing she could keep fiddling in one direction while her hair was going off in another.

Chloë Agnew served as mistress of ceremonies of sorts, introducing numbers and chatting about the group’s Irish past. She exuded the most personality, too, bringing real heart to songs like “Galway Bay.”

“Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears” involved all three singers and showcased the trio’s excellent harmony. While Agnew often took the lead, Lisa Kelly and Lynn Hilary didn’t cower in her presence.

Indeed, musical director David Downes has staged this for maximum effect — one number deftly slid into another; one percussionist dueled nicely with another. The stage had a “Lawrence Welk Show” flavor – all white drapes and colored lights – but the mood was definitely original.

As much as it proved a crowd pleaser, “Danny Boy” must be Celtic Woman’s equivalent of “Tiny Bubbles” — the song you have to include because audiences expect it. The group did a fine job with it, but their version wasn’t superior to Daniel O’Donnell’s.

They saved the showstopping for “Amazing Grace,” a thunderous rendition that featured a bagpiper walking through the audience. It came early in the second act and, easily, could have closed the show.

While Hilary got to introduce the audience to an Irish song about two men “like seaweed” it didn’t showcase her to maximum effect. Instead, “You’ll Be in My Heart” announced Celtic Woman like no other.

There’s a little contemporary Christian undertone to much of what they do. It’s augmented by a Disney brand of showmanship that insists on milking every moment for all it’s worth. While that’s fine, some songs would have been better served without the drama.

“When You Believe” deserved (and got) the full magilla. Others didn’t.

Still, Chloë, Lynn and Lisa are gorgeous women who sing beautifully. They’ve been choreographed to within an inch of their lives and they don’t really need to be. They need the freedom Máiréad (with her Snooki bump-it) seems to have.

Sunday’s performance was full of theatricality and verve. Is Celtic Woman the future of Irish music?

It could be if it soft-peddles a bit of the American theatrics.

By Bruce R. Miller
Sioux City Journal
Sioux City, IA
Monday, August 9, 2010 1:00 am
Always Remember All Things Are Possible With God !!
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