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Celtic Woman Perform At Nearly Full Plaza Theatre El Paso,TX

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 4:27 am    Post subject: Celtic Woman Perform At Nearly Full Plaza Theatre El Paso,TX Reply with quote

Celtic Woman started out as a made-for-TV group with four women with lovely voices and another who dances and fiddles up a storm.

The formula hasn't varied much in their five years of existence, and with good reason. The group routinely puts up big numbers with its easy-on-the-ears, easy-on-the-eyes brand of Celtic-flavored adult contemporary music, selling out venues like the Plaza Theatre, where they played to a nearly full house Saturday night, and topping the world music charts on a regular basis.

It's sort of an if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it kind of thing. The problem with that, though, at least in terms of Saturday's show, part of their current "Isle of Hope" tour, is just how rote and devoid of personality their performance was. Loosely built around the theme of the mass emigration of hard-luck Irish to the United States, "Isle of Hope" contains several inspiring songs, both traditional and contemporary.

Sure, there are hints of their individual characters. Certainly elfin Máiréad Nesbitt is a little blond firebrand, a dancing, fiddle-playing, crowd-pleasing ball of energy whose extroverted antics on tunes such as "The Coast of Galicia" and "Granualle's Dance" are in direct contrast to the four demure singers. Her tasteful version of "Shenandoah" showed she could reign it in, too.

Of the singers, honey-voiced soprano Chloë Agnew was the most animated, and the only one who addressed the crowd, other than a quick thank you, and that wasn't

until near the end of the show. The others -- Lisa Kelly, Lynn Hilary and Alex Sharpe -- all possess beautiful voices, but were stuck doing some pretty corny choreography (swaying their arms side to side got old fast) and either weren't interested in or allowed to chat up the crowd like they should have.

Saturday's show was occasionally engaging. Their lovely, a cappella rendition of the standard "Danny Boy" was delightfully angelic. Other group numbers, including their signature version of Josh Groban's "You Raise Me Up," and first-act closer "Mo Ghile Moar" are packed with plenty of emotive wallop.

But the performance was too by the numbers, too colorless given the high degree of talent (the women were backed by a percussion-heavy five-piece band and six backup singers) and the rich selection of traditional Irish and contemporary pop songs, including Sting's "Fields of Gold" and Rod Stewart's "Have I Told You Lately," from which they have to choose.

A song like "O, America!," written especially for this tour and designed to arouse our patriotic hearts, should have packed a punch. Instead, it had a more muted quality.

The show, like the group, is the brainchild of keyboardist and music director David Downes. He obviously knows what he's doing because it's been very successful. The staging, from the lighting to the ladies' elegant dresses, is top notch. The talent is also of a high level.

But I wish he'd let the cast let their hair down a little more, treat it more like a concert with some spontaneity than a Celtic version of "American Idol," where everything is so safe and scripted that there's no character, no going with the moment. A show built around so many emotional songs shouldn't be devoid of emotion itself.

By Doug Pullen,
El Paso Times,
El Paso,Texas
Nov. 15--EL PASO
Always Remember All Things Are Possible With God !!
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