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Author Topic: Altan - Pittsburgh concert - March 10, 2011  (Read 840 times)
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« on: March 11, 2011, 03:02:02 PM »

The previous Altan thread is in the archived section, so I put this in a new thread.

Altan  Byham Pittsburgh March 10, 2011

   The Irish group Altan came to town and brought the rains of Ireland with them!  The weather report called for the rain to change to snow and eventually drop 3-6 inches of the white stuff by some time the following day, which was a Friday. Then of course our large St Patrick’s Day parade scheduled for that Saturday. Seems we often get snow close to parade time. We have also had a lot of flooding here. Rivers continue to rise with all the rain and snow. When the snow melts next week, the flooding will get worse. But at least the rain didn’t change over to snow until well after the show ended. I was a bit concerned that if the temps dropped that night, I might be coming home on freezing sidewalks and roads.
   Potholes are another problem. As I took my short bus trip to the Byham, the driver slowed to a near stop at this one point. I wondered why, until I felt the “boom” as the front wheels hit the HUGE hole. Then the back wheels produced another “boom” as the bus shook. The driver laughed and said “that’s a BIG one!”
   So I get to the venue and get to my seat. Second row right, on the aisle though. Only a few seats to my right, then the wall. The actual front row right, as well as front row left, were empty. It appeared that those seats were not sold, possibly  because large speakers were positioned close. So in substance I was front row right. Had an excellent view of the stage. With speakers so close though, I thought that I might get blown away with the sound. But that didn’t happen.  Other seats were also empty. Ones WAY up in back seemed to be unsold, while others up front went empty probably because some people were scared off by the bad weather forecast. Still had a decent sized crowd though.
   The group entered the stage and took their positions. The one guitar guy was sitting on stage right in front of me, not to far away at all. Then the one fiddle / whistle guy was just left of him, but back several feet. Then the group’s lady fiddler / vocalist was left of him, and back a bit more. The accordian player sat left of her, but closer to the front of the stage. Then the other guitar guy stood left of him, on the far left of the stage, but a few feet closer to the crowd. So the 5 group members positioned themselves in an arc kind of formation, with the guitar guys on the ends close to the edge of the stage, and the lady fiddler / vocalist in the center, farthest away from the stage edge.
   Mairead, the lady fiddler / vocalist, wore a black dress that had a dark red pattern on part of it. Plus she had bracelets on each arm and some type of necklace. She looked very classy and attractive. The 4 men all wore a sort of gray-green shirt. They clearly wanted a look of uniformity.
   All 5 of them had some type of speaker thing positioned in front of them. But before the show started, some stage guy came out and inspected those things. They had foot peddles that, when toggled, appeared to switch lights or some type of screen. Not sure what those things were, maybe some type of tv screen with the music on them? Or speakers so the musicians could hear what they were doing?
   The group performed many songs with upbeat, energetic fiddle parts. The crowd though seemed a bit quiet. That did not surprise me, as it was a performing arts type of crowd. If this band were to play their music at a festival with a party type crowd, esp. if the crowd had a few drinks in them, it would be a real hoot-n-annie. There was a little bit of clapping along. I clearly heard the “stomp stomp stomp” of toe tapping feet at times. We were prompted to clap at times, but it didn’t last long. We were also prompted to dance, but only a few did that. Everyone did get up for a nice standing O at the end.
   The vocal pieces were sung in Gaelic. So I am clueless on names of songs or lyrics. The band did give names and explain a bit about the history of some of the songs. I didn’t take notes though, and the program they handed out did not provide a set list. The program was one of those theatre free ones that provided only minimal info about the group.
   Celtic Woman fans would certainly associate a blonde fiddler named Mairead with Mairead Nesbitt. But Altan’s Mairead made me think more about Orla Fallon. It’s the combination of her voice and the traditional Irish songs. Plus, she didn’t dance as she fiddled.
   The group did a nice job interacting with the crowd. Many jokes and laughs. Perhaps a few too many “we brought rain with us from Ireland” type jokes, but those seem somewhat obligatory when Irish and rain arrive in town together. They did do a signing after the show.
   It ended up being a very nice evening. This is a very talented group.
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