Christmas with Orla
What a special evening this was. This would be Orla's last concert of her mini-tour, she was heading home for the holidays, but she made it a wonderful one. I was treating my friend Brad to this show as his Christmas present and since we both love trains we decided to take the train to the concert. We left Harrisburg at 9am on Monday and got into New York City shortly after lunch. After checking in to our hotel I gave him a little preview of Macy's where we would be spending a lot of time (and money!) on Tuesday. We left around 3:30 on a LIRR train for Bay Shore; it's only a short walk to the church from the station. Zee called while we were en route and said that we would all be meeting at the church before heading out for dinner. “All” turned out to be seven of us: Brad and myself, Bruce, Joe and Kathy, Zee, and the surprise of the night, Kelli. We got to the church a little before 5 and were just in time to catch Mary warming up her violin and helping the sound guy do his initial equipment check. We were all taking pictures of the gorgeous interior of the church when who should walk out but Orla! She recognized most of us, either from Cleveland or other meetings, and happily chatted with us for a few minutes before she excused herself to get ready for the show. She was very excited to see Kelli; she knew that Bruce and Zee were coming but Zee had kept Kelli's attendance a secret. Brad has been an Orla fan ever since the first time I showed him one of my Celtic Woman DVDs but this was his first time seeing her up close and obviously his first time meeting her. To say he was excited would be putting it mildly.
After that unexpected bonus, we walked a few blocks up the street to a local restaurant called “Smokin' Al's.” For a somewhat random choice it turned out to be an excellent place with great ribs and barbeque, lots of it, and reasonable prices. None of us left hungry, that's for sure. One unfortunate side-effect was that the aroma had gotten into our clothes and we all smelled like barbeque the rest of the night; there was no escaping it! While those with doggie bags took them back to their cars, Brad and I headed back to the church to hold seats for everyone. We didn't quite make it in time to get “front pew,” but we got the entire second row on the right side.
Before I get into the show, I have to talk a little about the venue. St. Patrick's Church in Bay Shore, while it looks large on the outside, is actually a rather small and intimate church. There were probably only about 20 rows of pews in the main part and 2 sets of about 5 rows on either side. It is architecturally quite spectacular. The interior is all exposed brick with marble floors and the ceiling is quite high. In addition, there is a large dome over the center which extends the height even farther. Orla had her small ensemble setup directly under that dome with candles and Christmas decorations as a backdrop. It was stunningly beautiful, in both sight and sound; the exposed brick provided excellent
One unusual thing about the night turned out to be the fact that the show was being recorded. There were two professional-quality HD cameras setup on either side of the stage. The start of the show was slightly delayed while the crew worked out some equipment problems with the camera on our side. After the show I asked Orla's manager, Denny, when the DVD would be released but I couldn't get a commitment from him. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Finally it was time. Laura from WLIW came out and gave a brief talk. One very nice thing she mentioned was that some of the pledge contributions for tickets would be going back to the church as a thank you for being such wonderful hosts. Then, just like in Cleveland, Orla came out and started right out with an a cappella
song. This time I will
give the song titles, because I can; they will be at the end of the review. She introduced her accompanists for the evening, Dan and Mary, and then sang a mix of songs from her new album and some non-album tracks. She introduced each song with a little story of who wrote it and how she came to record it. For her own compositions she explained where the idea for the song came from and what they mean to her. She also did a little Q&A session with the audience and we all learned a little more about her.
The highlight of the show was when she dedicated Always There
to Kelli. I think everyone in our row, especially Kelli, was in tears at that point. She also dedicated Hard Times
to Bruce again. Tonight she added a few extra Christmas carols, too. She sang Silent Night
in Gaelic and Away in a Manger,
in addition to the usual Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
After the show she invited everyone
to stay and chat. As usual, she happily posed for pictures and signed autographs for any and all who waited. She is such a warm and generous person to her fans. We all hung around until she was done for some private time with her and she was most gracious. Kelli and Zee had some gifts for her and there were many
pictures taken. We each had a chance to pose for a picture with her and Denny took several pictures of our entire group. Brad had asked the cameraman on our side if he could have the copy of the set list that was taped to back of the camera and he said “sure.” In fact, he got the one from the other cameraman, too. A scan of the list is included below which identifies all of the songs. I got mine autographed.
It had to end eventually, and Denny finally had to take Orla away. I think she would have stuck around as long as we were willing to stay but she had to be tired, having arrived at 3am that morning from Atlanta. We all wished her safe travels home and a very
Happy Holidays. As we walked out we all said our goodbyes to each other. Zee and Kelli were heading back to Pennsylvania that night, Bruce, Joe and Kathy were going back to their hotel, and Brad and I were walking back to the train station for the return trip to Manhattan. It had been a glorious evening that we all will cherish forever.
Tuesday morning, Brad and I went up to Rockefeller Center and got to see ourselves on the Today Show and then helped some New York City retailers' bottom lines, especially Macy's. I'm writing my first draft of this as we ride Amtrak back to Harrisburg and back to real life. If only it didn't have to be that way...
Here are a few pictures of New York at Christmas. Enjoy!
Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and Radio City Music Hall:
Look who Radio City is promoting already!