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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Celtic Thunder in Denver, Colorado

Celtic Thunder is in Colorado through Tuesday night. They played a show last night at the Ellie Coulkin's Opera House, in Denver, and they have 2 more shows in the state, in Colorado Springs tonight and in Loveland Tuesday night. Some of the people I met last night had been under the impression that the shows were sold out, but last night's show was certainly not. If you were on the fence about going to see these guys, there are probably still tickets to tonight's show, and certainly for the one in Loveland. Their set list changes every night, and if Emmet was not just giving a stock answer last night, he doesn't know what songs they'll be singing until shortly before the show each night, so while the setlist below includes a few songs they will probably do in Colorado Springs and/or Loveland, these 2 shows will be different enough that I wish I could see all 3.

Last night’s show was great. I wound up sitting a bit closer, since the balcony section was closed- only 16 people bought tickets in that section, so we were traded tickets at the next closest section, on the side, which the women next to us didn’t like so well, because they were too far into the corner and couldn’t comfortably see the whole stage, but from my seat I could see everything and could even see through the gap in the stage curtain to where the sound guy was sitting. I could see some of the musicians through the curtain too, so waiting for the show was more entertaining than I expected. (I didn't take any pictures, at all, until I was outside after the show, though I think my camera would have done ok from our closer seats.)

I brought along my friend Chelsea, who happens to like music and have a car, so it was interesting getting her reactions. She had never encountered Celtic Thunder before, and was amazed that we actually met all of the singers outside after the show. She goes to a lot of shows in the price range of Celtic Thunder, and rarely expects to even get within a few feet of the artists after the shows. We'd just been talking about some of the legendary 'greats' who would stay to sign autographs and talk with fans so long as there were fans waiting, but I don't think she believed me that these guys would actually be that nice and attentive of their fans. George was especially nice, and while I'm not sure she's completely hooked yet, if she does turn into a Thunderhead, George will probably be her favorite of the guys.

It was a greatest hits show, so for us fans it was a fantastic array of the best of Celtic Thunder, but while Chelsea loved all the songs individually, she felt a bit overwhelmed and confused by the jumble of genres and styles of music we heard all in one show. It took her a few songs to recognize the two men I am particularly fascinated by, and even then, their names were fuzzy for her. Actually she kept thinking Neil was 'Ryan', so I am guessing she pegs Neil as more my type, so that of course he would be the one I've been talking about more this year.

The Set List, First Half:

Heartland (Neil Byrne, Emmet Cahill, Keith Harkin, Ryan Kelly & George Donaldson) - The balance was a bit off for this one, so that George’s voice was a bit louder and Colm and Neil’s voices were too soft to get the nice harmonies the guys were obviously singing. (Sorry, I hang out at soundchecks a lot anymore and seem to pick up bad habits.) Colm was not included in this one, but he got a solo entrance immediately after. I’m guessing that this is one of the songs that is retiring, since it’s a bit odd not having them all on for the first entrance.

Come By the Hills (Colm Keegan) - I wish we could hear Colm sing this one through entirely in Irish, because I love how he sounds when he’s singing in Irish.

Homes of Donegal (Keith) - One of my absolute favorite Keith songs from the Celtic Thunder albums.

Raggle Taggle Gypsy (Ryan, Keith, Neil, Colm, George) - The drum war was fantastic, and we were in a great spot to watch Neil. I love watching his face when he’s playing the drums in this one- he seems to really enjoy being on the drums for this song, and he still looks very sexy as a percussionist. I absolutely loved watching Barry Kerr play the bodhran, too. Some day I will be that good, I hope.

Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears (Emmet) - Emmet was the audience favorite, from the volume of his applause. He deserved it, too. Maybe he had an extra nap the other guys missed, but whatever the case, Emmet was in fine form all night.

She’s Always a Woman (Neil) - Yep, I’m still in love with this man.

Black Velvet Band (Colm) - Not too many people were singing along to this one (I could see most of the audience beneath me from my seat), and of course it is a new CT song, but I grew up singing along to the Irish Rovers “Unicorn” album. I hope this one’s a new song they’ll keep up for a few years.

The Old Man (George) - Took on a bit more meaning knowing about George’s father’s passing this past year. This was never one of my favorite songs (my dad and I are most definitely estranged permanently) but last night’s performance of this one was unexpectedly quite powerful.

Steal Away (ALL 6) - OMG, these men are amazing. I could freeze time in the last minute or so of this performance of this song and relive the these luscious harmonies over and over for all eternity. It was not quite done a capella until the last part, but the instrumentation was light enough that it was easily tuned out as soon as these guys opened their mouths.

Noreen (Neil) - Not my favorite song, though sung by one of my favorite people. I was still drunk enough on the last few bars of the previous song, though, that I doubt I could have handled another favorite just yet.

Heartbreaker (Ryan) - Ok, watching Ryan get slapped on stage was surprisingly entertaining. Seana’s acting was hilarious, and Ryan always looks amazing anyway, but especially in that long jacket.

My Irish Molly-o (Emmet) - That last note is pure showing off, and always makes me a bit jealous. My perception of this song is colored a bit by just how nice and friendly Emmet was after the show, but I think this would have been one of my favorites from the evening anyway.

Ireland’s Call (ALL 6) - I kind of wish I was down in the front section, for songs like this one. We literally had our entire row and most of our section to ourselves, and Chelsea was new to Celtic Thunder and so was not inclined to stand up for these songs.
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(I spent intermission chatting with the usher for our section, mostly about Les Miserables, bodhrans & tippers, & a bit of general history/background about Celtic Thunder. I must have had a bit of an accent, because she was sure I was here from Ireland.)

Second Half:

Dulaman (ALL 6) - One of my favorite entrance songs from Celtic Thunder. It’s so dramatic, and yet, while it has deeper layers of meaning, on the surface this song is still about edible seaweed.

Home (Colm) - Damian McGinty was great on this song, but I really love Colm's rendition of it. He has such a pretty voice! I still would want a bass voice if I could try out having a guy’s voice, but I wouldn’t mind sounding like Colm either.

All Day Long (Keith) - I think Keith lost track of what verse’s chorus he was on at one point. He could lose track of verses more often if he always looks that cute about it- he makes adorable faces when he slips up. I agree with the usher that his haircut wasn’t flattering, any more than Neil’s was, really, but Keith still looked great up there with his guitar. His arm was probably a bit more tired and sore than usual, with how recently he was injured, but I was glad to see him playing his own guitar for all his solo songs.

Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (ALL 6) - Since Amazing Grace was not an option this tour, this one was high on my wish list. I love how Ryan and Keith sound together.

Ride On (Ryan) - Another song I’d imagine is retiring. I always see Ryan’s much younger face when I hear this song, but his voice sounds a lot more mature now than back in 2007. (And he’s looking even sexier now than in 2007/8 too.)

Brown Eyed Girl (Neil) - Another nice surprise. I like this sort of song better than the slow ballads for Neil, the more I know about his personality. I’ve been enjoying the youtube clip of Neil singing this one, from the spring ABC tour, so hearing it for the first time all nice and polished on the CT stage was a great treat.

Cat’s in the Cradle (George) - I can’t really imagine George before this was one of his songs.

Don’t Forget About Me (Keith) - He seemed to be both very excited and very tired by about this point in the show. During this song Keith was very animated, showing off his song to everyone, but I got the impression that he was starting to feel the effects of being up bright and early in the morning. Even so, he did a great job on this song, and if his solo show is anything like this, I’m really hoping he’ll come through Denver with his album tour so I can see more.

All God’s Creatures (ALL 6) - Poor Colm! He sang the second verse, only he forgot the first words, and then he and Keith were laughing too hard to jump back in for a bit. The rest of the song went well, including the dancing bits, which Chelsea seemed to really enjoy. This was my favorite song through elementary school, and until I heard Celtic Thunder sing it, I had never met anyone outside my 3rd grade class who knew this song at all.

Whiskey in the Jar (Keith and Neil) - A bit less energy than they probably have some nights, but with those shiny red guitars it was still great fun to watch. Keeping in mind that these guys were in Wichita the night before, several thousand feet lower in elevation, I’m surprised these guys had any energy by the end of the night.

Friends in Low Places (Ryan) - This really is a great song for Ryan anyway. Coupled with the context of this past summer, this was possibly my second favorite song of the night, with Steal Away as a close third.

This is the Moment (Emmet) - Again, such a powerful voice. I miss Paul, and hope he’ll eventually have a show near me so I can see him, but Emmet is a really cool guy with an amazing voice. I’m very curious as to what the 37 new songs Ryan mentioned are, and which songs Emmet will sing next.

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) (George) - He has so much fun doing this song.

Seven Drunken Nights (ALL 6) - I forgot to write this song down when it started, so I am not 100% sure where it fit in- I was laughing too hard by the end of it. Neil landed pretty hard on his butt this time, at the end, before he was hauled off stage. Keith ran all the way off stage as George started in on the last verse, and the entire song the guys were just fantastic.

Appalachian Roundup (Celtic Thunder Band) - I only whistled along under my breath for this one, as I figured whistling ‘full-voice’ might actually be audible for people near me, but I did whistle along to the flute bits on this song.

Caledonia (ALL 6) - With this song, my past few years as a Celtic Thunder fan have come full circle. I was in love with this song before I knew the names of any of the singers, and long before I’d heard anything else by Celtic Thunder. The harmonies sound even better with Neil, Colm and Emmet. In fact the recorded version from Act II sounds a bit thin compared to what I remember from last night. In answer to Chelsea’s question after, “Did I cry at all during the show?”, I almost never cry, in any context, but I was tearing up a bit by the end of this song.

Between Caledonia, Steal Away, seeing Ryan looking amazing and very much alive on stage in Denver, and enjoying Keith’s guitar playing, and then meeting all of them afterward, it was an unreal night. I have been pondering ever since how I could get to Loveland for the show Tuesday night. Honestly if I only had to buy one ticket, I could afford it. (I bought 2 for the Denver show, because unless I brought along a friend who could drive, I would not have had transportation.) But, I have no idea how I could get home from the show even if I could get a bus or find a friend to get me to the show. Loveland is only ~20 miles away, though, so if I can figure out how, I may very well see about going to a second show after all.
Update: I found out one of my best friends from choir is still around this week, and free Tuesday, and can borrow her parents' car, so we're going to the Loveland Celtic Thunder show. It'll be her first time seeing them, too, and in addition it will be her very first major concert, ever, so hopefully all the guys remember all their words and cues, though they are all pretty cute when they mess up on stage. And, if I have time before then, I may have an idea of something I actually would like the guys to sign. I absolutely have to get a new choir folder anyway, before our Christmas concerts start, and it would be very cool to have their autographs inside my choir folder where I could see them when I am on stage. Brilliant? I think so.

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