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Author Topic: A Little Slice of Heaven in Harrisburg – Órla 4/1/2011  (Read 1466 times)
Tipperary's best fiddler
Posts: 3025

Albuquerque 2009. Forever on my mind.

« on: April 02, 2011, 03:58:08 PM »

This certainly ranks as my best April Fool's Day ever.  I had been waiting to get my first dose of Órla since the show in Rockport way back in December.  I begged Zee and Bruce for information from Salt Lake and devoured Scott's review from Boulder.  But nothing is the same as being there and the day had finally arrived.  It turned out to be “fixup” day.  I had already scheduled a haircut, but managed to sneak in an oil change (for my Jeep, not me) and a dental cleaning due to a cancellation.  So I had freshly cut clean hair, clean oil and clean teeth, all for Órla!  Smiley  I was set.

My best friend Brad is a big Órla fan and the last time he saw her was at the Christmas show on Long Island two years ago.  I was treating him and his daughter Beth, who had just seen CW from the front row in Lancaster the week before, to another front row experience, albeit a very different one.  After a quick bite to eat, we arrived at the Whitaker Center in downtown Harrisburg around 6:30 for the 7:30 show.  The concession table was just getting setup and I chatted with Rory for a few minutes; Denny was in Cleveland.  It wasn't too long before Roy (beowolf) showed up bearing pretzels for Órla and company.  After pointing him in the direction of Rory for delivery we chatted for a while.  Next we saw Dan coming down the steps from the hotel.  I said “Hi” and he stopped to talk with us before he had to go inside.  Bruce had driven down from Syracuse and was next to show up.  He delivered my Albany ticket for April 23 and filled me in on some more details from Salt Lake City.  Lastly, Zee and her Mom arrived and our group was complete.  We were so busy catching up that we lost track of time and it was almost 7:20 when we headed for our seats.

Thanks to Bruce's early warning we had all scored seats in the front row; in fact, we were all right next to each other even though we had purchased our tickets separately.  Bruce was to my left, I was dead center (just lucky, I guess), and Beth, Brad, Zee and her Mom were to my right.  Órla certainly had her most loyal fans right up front to support her tonight.  The stage was much fuller than normal with the addition of mics and instruments for the new band.  There was a plain white backdrop which was washed with various colors throughout the performance and was used to good effect.

Promptly at 7:30 the lights dimmed and four people that I had never seen before entered the stage.  It was, of course, Órla's traveling companions, Tin Cup Gypsy, and they launched right into one of their own songs.  After they finished, Jonathon, who was their primary spokesperson, said, “I bet you're wondering who the heck we are and if you are in the right place.  And which one of us is Órla?”  He then gestured to Jordan and said, “There she is!” and got a great laugh.  He talked a little about the band and mentioned that he had worked with Sara Evans; pretty impressive name to have on one's resume.  They did four more songs in a diverse set of styles before they turned into a backup band.  While they're not exactly my cup of tea, they are quite talented.

Finally it was time.  Dan and Amberly entered the stage followed a positively radiant Órla.  Amberly was wearing a black knee-length ruffled dress, different from the one I've seen mentioned and different than the one she wore last year.  Órla was wearing a stunning sleeveless green gown.  Green is definitely her color.  She started out with her version of Mo Ghile Mear which is done entirely in Irish, unlike CW's version.  TCG provided both instrumental support as well as backing vocal harmonies.  The new “fuller” sound took a little getting used to but definitely gave the upbeat numbers some added energy.  I liked the slower songs better last year with just Dan and Amberly, because Órla's mesmerizing voice stood out more, but everything sounded great.  She performed most of the songs from her new DVD (except Shenandoah  Sad), some from her previous album and tour, and few new ones, including one they had just learned and practiced today.  I got a copy of the set list but I don't have it with me here in Youngstown so I'll just hit the highlights.  No changes in Two Sisters, the miller still gets hanged and the oldest sister still gets boiled in lead.  Isle of Innisfree is still one of her most breathtaking songs to both listen to and to watch, as her fingers dance over the harp strings.  I love slow songs and Both Sides Now and Red is the Rose are beautifully done.  Jonathon sings the male part of the duet in the second one.  She talked a little about how she had originally planned to record the Cat Stevens song Morning Has Broken.  She was not happy with how it was going until Dan told her to sing it like a waltz.  She did and it is absolutely beautiful.  The first act ended with Soul Cake.  She said that they loved performing it so much in Nashville that they included it, even though it is technically a Christmas song.  Amberly came to the front of the stage for this one and did a little jig while playing.  In addition, Jordan and Jonathan joined her in a trio of dueling violins.  Very impressive.

Speaking of Amberly, she saw me early in the show and gave me a little smile of recognition.  Little did I know that the wheels had started turning in her pretty little head.  During the second act, in a very nice gesture, Órla dedicated Simple Love to Zee.  In fact, earlier in the show she had mentioned that some people had traveled quite far for this show (Bruce this time, not me for once) and how nice it was to have those familiar faces in the front row.  It really does make a difference.

The second act ended with I'll Tell Me Ma and that's when things started getting interesting.   After the main part of the song was finished, Amberly returned to the front of the stage and began dancing again.  But wait, was that a spin I just saw?  She went a full turn clockwise then back counter-clockwise.  I wasn't looking directly at her and wasn't sure what I saw.  Bruce nudged me and a few seconds later she did it again and looked right at me with a huge grin on her face.  Some of you may recall in my Rockport review last December that I had talked to Amberly about Máiréad and how she plays while spinning.  Amberly told me that she could do that too and I challenged her to do it on the spring tour.  Reports from both Salt Lake and Boulder said there was no spinning and I was going to call her on it after the show.  But she did remember!  A bit later she did 3 full spins, while playing, and shot another grin in my direction.  I couldn't believe it, my own personal spins.  It didn't take me long to stand for that one!

After that shock, there was one more.  Órla always sings Hard Times as her encore and dedicates it to Bruce if he's there.  Tonight, though, she let a little of Bruce's spotlight shine on me and mentioned both of us in her introduction.  I felt a little bad taking away a little of Bruce's thunder but it was a very special thing for her to do and I was very grateful.

After a final standing ovation Órla announced one of her “everyone's welcome” Meet & Greets in the lobby.  Usually only a small percentage of the crowd actually stays but it looked like half the audience decided to stick around.    We stood on the mezzanine overlooking the crowd and waited for things to thin out.  Amberly and Dan were both schmoozing with fans and Tin Cup Gypsy was also posing for pictures and signing autographs.  It was quite a busy scene.

Finally, things thinned out around Amberly, so Brad, Beth and I went down to talk to her for a while.  The first thing I said was, “You spun!” and she replied, “Yes, just for you.”  She is such a delight to talk to and we spent almost 30 minutes chatting while the line for Órla moved.  Beth liked the way Amberly wore her hair and they spent a few minutes sharing hair tips.  That conversation didn't do me any good.  Cheesy  Part way though the conversation I told her I had a gift for her and reached into my “bag of tricks.”  I had come prepared and gave her a Fiddler Crossing sign of her very own.  She was positively giddy and said that she had just the place for it.  I also had her autograph one for me so I now have a sign with an Amberly “novel” filling up one side of it.  I mentioned that I saw her looking at her lyric “cheat sheet” for the English songs but not for the Irish ones.  She said that it's one of her quirks but she can learn and sing most songs much more easily in any language but English.

Then it was Órla time.  Lest ye doubt the Irish memory skills, as soon as she saw Brad she said, “You're the one who made the comment about my makeup in Bayshore.”  He was quote taken aback that she remembered because he barely remembered it himself.  We had a great reunion and Beth got to meet her second celebrity of the night and her first Celtic Woman.  Órla asked my what I thought of the show and how I liked the sound and was very genuinely interested in what I had to say.  Perhaps she reads these reviews?  I told her that I was disappointed that Shenandoah was not in the show and she said they felt there were too many slow songs already.  I said one more won't hurt and she laughed and said I needed to talk to Dan.  I did, although I'm not entirely sure I convinced him.  We'll see, I guess.  I thanked her for for everything she does for her fans and we all got plenty of those glorious Órla hugs.  After posing for individual pictures, Bruce took a few group shots and the night was over.  Another wonderful one for the memory banks.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again: run, don't walk, to see Órla in concert.  You will not regret it.

A few pictures from the show.  I was shooting blind, without looking at the camera at all, but I did manage to get a few half decent pictures.

Beth with Amberly.

Amberly with her newest possession.  Just the sign, not me  Wink

Brad and Beth with Órla.

Me with Órla.


Administrator Emeritus
Posts: 13028

« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2011, 06:10:29 PM »

Great review, Mike! That's how it's done! Orlagh and Elevation group do it right! Wonderful shots and cool that Amberly spun for you!

An fidléir's mínealaíne i sprite iomlán sin
Tipperary's best fiddler
Posts: 3296

Well hello, all you happy people out there!

« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2011, 07:38:43 PM »

Nice spin on that story, Mike!!!!  Grin   I am looking forward to receiving Orlagh's new album which should be arriving very soon now (along with "Lullaby").

Robert Scott the Máiréad Fan
From New Mexico, USA
The Pun Master and Master of Disaster
I still love ya', Máiréad!!!!!!!
Total Mairead Fanatic!
Posts: 1141

« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2011, 07:42:08 PM »

Thanks, Mike, for your perspective. I'll definitely need to check out her show before her tour ends. Clean teeth, clean oil, and a haircut? Nice. I don't know that I'd do the haircut. Hey, maybe I could exchange hair style tips with Amberly too! Careful Mike, you're gonna start a spinning trend among Irish Fiddlers.

We sing before we learn to talk. We dance before we learn to walk. Music is ingrained into our very souls from birth.
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