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Author Topic: Women Of Ireland: Albuquerque gets its pot of gold for Paddy's Day  (Read 2605 times)
Moscapoet
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« on: March 18, 2015, 01:50:22 AM »

I had not planned on seeing a Celtic show until the Lisa Kelly event in May. But Tony called me and said that Women of Ireland would be in Albuquerque for Paddy's Day and he snagged us tickets. He did that as soon as he found out his favorite, Una Pedreschi, was joining the show. We here have said for years we would support all the artists of CW in the solo efforts and many of us have kept true to that. I missed her while she was a principal with Celtic Nights and the last time I saw her was after the CW DVD recording in Atlanta 2011 after an unforgettable night one. Fan and artist alike were celebrating in the neighboring pub until three in the morning. So, I had to go see and support her and introduce my ears to the others in this ensemble. I'd planned on all three shows in my region and he had tickets for me but my uncle was coming up after the loss of his son Jeff a couple weeks ago. So it would be just this one for me.

Albuquerque holds such great memories for me. My very first Celtic Woman show was there in 2007 and I took my then 9 year old niece. I'd spent Paddy's Day with CW a few times but they were back east and I'm no longer flush for travel funds for trips of that length. So i made plans and Tony set himself up to fly down from Alaska. He arrived into Denver yesterday and drove the 3 1/2 hours or so to the San Luis Valley where he would stay the night with me. We went to the thermal pool up the road. Then home where I introduced him to my cat Deirdre. Up and at it this morning and to the pool again before lunch in Alamosa at May Wa Chinese. The travel south is about 3 1/2 hours and we opted to stay overnight to avoid the drunks on the roads later at night. We checked in then went to a place for dinner that I went to often when I lived in this area. It is a great Mexican place called El Pinto.

Off to the venue and to meet up with Dwight who came in from Phoenix. So, at least three of us came from a good distance away to see this show. But this was Una and we wanted to be sure at least a few shows had familiar faces for her. Every show I have been to at Popejoy has been full or nearly so. CW always has been and Celtic Nights was last year. Tonight was no exception. I love seeing that. We stop at the merch table first and I pick up a CD and say hello to their tour manager who seems pleasant. Then in to our seats in fourth row pit near center.

It is a two act two hour show with a 15 minute intermission. It has nicely done lights and the sound was pretty good. There are seven band members, four dancers, the front three vocalists, and an aerialist. So, there are a lot of elements in the show. Band is comprised of Violinist Lotta Virkkunen, Abel Benito on drums, Ciara Cullen on Accordion, Reid Mounts on guitar, Jeff Kroger on piano, Kieran Munnelly on whistle and bodhran, and Dan Callaghan on Uilleann pipes and some flutes. The program only lists the principals so I thank Sarah for tweeting me the band member names. Lead female dancer is Kelly McDonnell, and there are two additional females and a very good male one as well. the aerialist is Taylor Rowland.

Set lists are as follows and includes vocal, dance, and instrumental pieces. Act one is Marie's Wedding, Trad At Heart, Green Fields Of France, Le Cheile, Carrickfergus, Heart Strings, The Blarney Roses, 4 for the road, Danny Boy, Galway to Galicia, These Flags We Raise. Act two is Red Haired Mary, Dream No More, You Raise Me Up, Fiddlesticks, I Know My Love, Eagle's Flight, Lovers Embrace, Let It Be, Between Worlds, Black Is The Colour, Tapped, Reel Madness, So Young. The encore is God Bless America.

I did not take notes so at times I don't recall whether some of these are instrumental or dance so I'll just go through what I remember of vocals and then touch on the instrumental and dance.

One of the memorable first act pieces for me was Una's solo of Carrickfergus. Of course many of us here remember fondly Orlagh Fallon doing that one. She does a lovely rendition and I am so pleased that I finally hear her now as a principal. But she is not alone. Taylor has a trapeze sort of device and does a variety of poses on that while Una sings. At various points people applaud for those. Danny Boy is a song that every Irish group has on its must do list. It isn't a proper Irish show without it. The harmonies are sweet and well done. The end of the first act is a song about the various regions of Ireland and some of the cast has full sized flags of those along with one for Ireland and one for the USA. It was very nice and showed a clear bond between Ireland internally and between that nation and ours.

Act two had Sarah doing a very nice solo of You Raise Me Up. Many of us are used to an ensemble version but she does the solo very well. But she is not alone and the aerialist climbs to long, sheer curtains on stage as this song is sung. I'm used to seeing this but from my cat Deirdre at home! Yet Taylor nimbly climbs all the way to the top like Spiderwoman and then wraps herself here and there and maintains strength poses you would not see outside the Olympics. I have to focus on both vocalist and aerials as I did in the first act as both are well done. It is sheer strength of voice and sheer physical strength and control. Gotta say I'm sure not going to arm wrestle Taylor! She's  quite the powerhouse and I doubt there's an ounce of fat on her. Yet with all that strength she is graceful too. Sarah is wearing a stunning red gown with lots of sparkles. But her voice sparkled too.  Later in the act all three come out in dazzling gold glitter gowns like you would see from Cleopatra, and they sing the Beatles cover, Let It Be. Of course I know this one well from when I was a kid. It is lovely and well done. The three voices compliment each other and Una has the high parts which are very clear. John, Paul, and George, meet Una, Sarah,and Karen. A couple songs later they do I song I've never been fond of. Until now. Black is the Colour. One thing they did was tweak the lyrics so they are singing about a male and not another female. I like that. But the aerialist and dancers are all wearing black lace eye masks. everyone is in black and it is actually a rather jazzy number. I can finally like this song now.

At times in the show each of the band gets to show off a bit as do the dancers. The dancing is not quite as elaborate as what we saw with Celtic Nights. But it is still very good and the dancers all have nice personalities that make them very pleasant to watch. Strength and grace and a theme here and perhaps that is befitting a show called Women of Ireland as most of the women I know from there have both of those things in abundance. I like the full band live without any tracks. I've always liked the combo of whistle, fiddle and accordion. Has sort of a nautical sound to it. Every member of the troupe should be very proud of their contribution.

The front three are very personable and the fiddler is great from start to fin(n)ish. Yes, the fiddle lass is from Finland but she can sure reel off the Irish tunes and she loves doing it. BTW, she's almost a dead ringer for Una's pal and former CW choir gal Amy Rivard. She does a lovely slow/fast combo in the second act. Karen is a trim, dark-haired lass whose eyes sparkle and she clearly loves to sing. She has a nice voice that would lend itself to a variety of genres. Sarah is a blond beauty that has a fair amount of power behind her. She has a lovely presence on stage. Una seems to be the higher range in the show and is clear and classical. All three shimmer and connect and blend well. The encore, God Bless America, is a lovely sentiment and the bulk of the audience sings along. For many of us we don't feel very patriotic about our country right now. Well, we love our country but not so much the folks running it. But that is not uncommon in this world. Yet this song struck a nerve and in that venue we were all Americans and DC did not intrude. The overall show reminded us a bit of an expanded version of what we saw in Dublin at the Arlington Hotel. More people, more tech, but with a similar feel. There are lots of costume changes and all are gorgeous. All in all it is a nice evening and a fine way to spend time celebrating Ireland and her people.

After the show make our way out to the lobby to see if any of the artists make their way out. All the female dancers, vocalists, and the aerialist are seated behind a table. Sadly that barrier does not permit us to get photos with the artists. But we get our programs signed and have plenty of chat time. Una gets a sign I drew up (Unavision) and I get a nice hug. All three vocalists are very sweet. Lotta puts on the fiddler crossing jacket and I take a photo. I mean we are all about the fiddlers here!  Wink It is a show and experience I recommend to anyone. You just can't have too much Irish in your life now can you? Nah, didn't think so. My thanks to all involved for a nice show and their kindness in person and on line. Tony will see them in Avon and Pueblo and I know he's jazzed for that. Now to bed and to let visions of Irish lasses dance in my head. Happy st. Patrick's Day, everyone.       
 
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An fidléir's mínealaíne i sprite iomlán sin
jturbitt
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« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2015, 08:29:35 AM »

Thanks Scott.  Good review. And you are right about the resemblance to Amy Rivard. 
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Ron
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« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2015, 02:18:23 PM »

Sounds like great time! I'll have to check them out if they start touring on an annual basis. Thanks for sharing.
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We sing before we learn to talk. We dance before we learn to walk. Music is ingrained into our very souls from birth.
Rob
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« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2015, 03:10:56 PM »

Scott do they have anything on the internet? I would love to see them. By the way lookin forward to seeing everybody in Peachtree. gotta stay at Holiday Inn cuz Ill have my dog Oz.
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Moscapoet
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« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2015, 01:11:41 PM »

Rob they are on Facebook and Twitter but the current cast don't have any videos with them, only separate.
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