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Author Topic: Walk Beside Me... 3-12-16 Peoria, IL  (Read 1310 times)
littlecubspirit
Mairead Fan
*
Posts: 29


« on: March 15, 2016, 03:59:14 PM »

Hi everyone! I know I haven’t been on the forum very much, but real life keeps getting in the way. Nonetheless, I know how many of you look forward to my reviews of CW shows, and I certainly wouldn’t want to disappoint! Here we go!

From the very beginning, I had been more than a little conflicted about whether or not I would choose to attend the Destiny tour. I had to skip the tenth anniversary celebration tour last year due to school and some unexpected health issues, and I wondered if the group had changed too much during my hiatus to feel familiar, with so many massive changes occurring at once. However, once I saw Destiny when it was broadcast on my PBS station back in November, I was immediately pulled back into CWaziness, and knew I HAD to find a way to go.
 
Financially, this was more of a stretch than it had been in previous years, as I am now living independently in my own apartment, and am responsible for a greater portion of my cost of living than in previous years. However, when I visited with my fiancé and his family over the Christmas holidays, I ended up having more leftover money than I anticipated at the end of the year. My fiancé encouraged me to use the surplus to buy myself a treat, and once I saw that the venue the girls were playing at in central IL was literally 5 minutes from my apartment and there was still handicapped accessible seating available at a decent price, I grabbed it up eagerly via Ticketmaster and began to make plans.

If I am going to provide, as I usually do, an honest recounting of my concert and related experiences, I would be remiss if I told you the entire lead up to my concert was sunshine and daisies. I had several people close to me question my decision to see Celtic Woman this year, especially once they discovered I was beginning to make plans to owner train a service dog. They didn’t see my choice to go to the concert as very financially responsible, and this was something that made me a bit insecure. Thankfully, there were even more friends who encouraged me to attend, trusting that as before, the universe would have something special in store. They also pointed out to me that I treat Celtic Woman as exactly what it is, a special treat, and certainly don’t make a consistent habit of spending money like this. All very true, and so I decided to proceed with my original plan.

The first that the girls knew I was coming to the concert was back in February when Mairead shared video of her playing “Skyrim” from the Destiny recording. I commented to her that this was a new favorite song of mine, and told her I couldn’t wait to see it live, specifying the date of my concert. I promised her that if it was at all possible I would try to say hi as well, as I have done in years past. She immediately liked the comment, and I felt myself begin to really look forward to my concert.

And now, we reach the day of my concert. I woke up early, as per usual. And also as per usual, I was very impatient and excited. This was exacerbated by the fact that this was the first Celtic Woman show I was going to which was not a matinee. Suddenly I had too much energy and too much time to kill. I spent most of the day taking care of housekeeping chores, and also went grocery shopping. Before shopping I changed into my concert outfit: My Celtic Woman anniversary shirt (the grey one, with all the girls except Eabha who was not a part of the group when that shirt was made), and nicely tailored black dress pants, with fur lined boots for shoes. On the way home from the store, I stopped at Subway and picked up a foot long so that lunch, as well as dinner following the concert was taken care of. Being jittery and/or tired and trying to cook is just not a good combination. I came home and put everything away, ate lunch and watched a couple episodes of Doctor Who. I was desperate for anything that would help me pass the time. Finally, at 5:30 pm I packed my messenger bag and purse for the show, and transferred into my manual wheelchair so I could catch my cab to the theatre.
 
The venue for last night’s concert was the Peoria Civic Center, a huge building that often plays host to sporting events and other high volume attractions in addition to plays and concerts like the one I was seeing. Last night, in addition to the Celtic Woman concert, the Civic Center was hosting the final game of the Illinois State High School Association March Madness Tournament. In short, the place was an absolute madhouse. It was originally assumed that I was there for that event, but when I explained, I was directed to the theatre area which was all the way on the other side. I was assisted in reaching my destination by a very kind patron who helped push me to where I was supposed to be and waited until my ticket had been scanned and I was able to ask venue staff to assist me when the time came for me to find my seat in the theatre. I am very grateful for this, as if not for his help, I might have missed part of the concert. It was quite a distance.
I waited for the theatre to open by taking time to investigate the merchandise table and purchase a show program, as I do every year. That didn’t take me very long, so the next available pastime was people watching. I was somewhat surprised as to how much the audience of the show skewed toward the elderly, as I was expecting there to be more families and things as this was a Saturday evening performance. I was also (pleasantly) surprised to see quite a few individuals with disabilities besides me attended the concert. Celtic Woman is healing music indeed.

When I got to my seat I was slightly disappointed at how far back I was from the stage. I have certainly been spoiled at my other two concerts. However, the wheelchair seating area was comfortable, and I did feel secure there. I was actually stunned at how much wheelchair seating the venue had! There was a wheelchair spot next to each row in the back half of the main floor of the theatre, and several more in the balcony area as well. This was easily one of the most inclusive and accessible venues I have ever been in. There were elevators and or ramps to get to all guest areas, in addition to the actual accommodations in the theatre, as well, and the restrooms were just as accessible. I took a few pictures of the empty stage, and watched everyone else get settled.

The staging this time around is the simplest I have seen yet, with a stage width set of stairs the main focus of the lower set, then a platform where the piano sits divides the stairs into two smaller but still stable flights which have platforms at the top for the girls to use, as well as one drum kit being on either side of the stage on these platformed areas. The rest of the musicians are arranged around the base of the stage on either side. But perhaps the most drastic change from other shows is that the backdrop of the set is now a giant LCD screen, which showed the logo for Destiny prior to the show, but became a focal point by streaming images which related to each song’s content throughout the show. It was really beautiful and a cool way to incorporate some fresh technology.

I was waiting eagerly, and I could not help a small cheer as the lights dimmed. The show was about to begin!
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littlecubspirit
Mairead Fan
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Posts: 29


« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2016, 04:00:30 PM »

I was quite surprised to find out by listening to the pre-show announcements that non-flash photography was being allowed, as long as we weren’t disruptive. While I was sitting quite far back (main floor Row Z), I left my cell phone on throughout the show, and managed to get pictures to go with each song which I will share in a separate thread with appropriate captioning.

Act 1-

As the lights dimmed there was thunderous applause. Moments later, the musicians took their places and then Mairead appeared to begin the show.

Destiny/Tirloc’s Dream- Mairead’s instrumental introduction is not something I have typically discussed at length in previous reviews, but this time is going to be just a bit different. It is the first time in my personal (sadly limited) experience with Celtic Woman shows that Mairead’s introductory interlude has not merely served as the opening strains of their first song for the concert. It is slow and sweet and mysterious, a feeling that we know from prior history Mairead can pull off very well. I was struck by the poise with which Mairead commanded the stage, and made sure each movement she made was deliberate. Particularly as she descended the center steps to come to the base of the stage for the first time. Since as I mentioned a moment ago this intro has its own unique flavor rather than simply devolving into the beginning of a perhaps more well-known song, I was pleased to see that this number is well able to showcase just how deeply Mairead FEELS the music she plays. Her movements were fluid and otherworldly and she was one with Matthias in a way that I have very rarely seen. Many people in the audience seemed to agree with me that Mairead’s intro was its own song, and she received polite applause.

When You Go- Of course, this is a full group number which well and truly kicks off the concert. Susan began the song as the girls joined Mairead, and light flooded the stage. It seems that some changes in arrangement have been made, as the percussion and clapping which previously made this song difficult to listen to for me were more toned down. Mairead C took the second verse, and Eabha the third, as they harmonized for the chorus bits. While it was stunning, the one thing that made this performance a bit jarring was that this was the first time I was hearing the girls backed by an all-male choir. It was beautiful and these singers truly know their stuff, but it felt strangely out of balance. I hope that at some point in future the management goes back to a mixed choir which I feel gives the entire show a fuller and more robust sound. However, even these changes couldn’t disappoint and the conclusion of the song was met with polite and very well deserved applause.
As soon as we quieted down, Susan welcomed us all to the show and let us know the girls were glad to be returning to Peoria, and grateful for the warm welcome they had received. She stated that the next song they were going to perform was one we would recognize, as it had been with Celtic Woman since the very beginning. She then explained that the chorus, which was Gaelic, translated to “Walk my love, walk to the door and come away with me” …which of course meant that we were going to hear...

Siuil A Run- This was the point where I felt my misgivings about the Destiny tour fade away. Susan had, after all, invited us to forget our cares for the evening and let the music pull us in, something I was only too happy to do. Each of the girls got a verse as a solo, while the harmonies they managed on the choruses just made my breath catch in my throat. While I don’t know that this analogy will make sense to everyone who reads my review, I have to share it. In my head, as I listened to this song, I was able to imagine each of the principal vocalists’ voices like a uniquely colored thread. They were being woven together as if to form a braided cord, and blended beautifully, with the solo verses denoting the changes in which thread was anchoring the rest and was most prominent for the moment. It was absolutely exquisite, and I might have cheered just slightly louder than I intended to when it was finished. I think one of the most helpful aspects in terms of deepening the enchantment we felt for this song is that the background on the LCD screen was kept simple and monochrome, as was the soft stage lighting. The music was center stage here, as it should be.

Ride On- Mairead Carlin introduced this next song by entertaining us with some information about its history. She shared that it had been written by a songwriter by the name of Jimmy McCarthy, a favorite of the girls. He used imagery from his time as a stable boy, which he left home to become at age 15, to describe lost love.  I was thrown off a little at first, as I knew from watching Destiny on DVD that this is a song that Mairead C and Eabha share, but Eabha was not onstage as the song began. While initially I wondered if this had simply been one of the changes which arose in the process of getting the song tour ready, I needn’t have worried. Eabha joined Mairead and began to sing as Mairead finished the first chorus. The second verse and chorus belonged to her, then they harmonized and finished the number together. I was so captivated I forgot to clap at first!

This was another song which I had not felt any particular attachment to when I listened to/ saw Destiny on TV the first time. Hearing it performed live completely changed my outlook. I think the emotional connections that form between artist and audience member at a Celtic Woman show are beyond description, and an absolutely crucial part of the experience. This might explain why at each concert I’ve seen; I’ve found that the songs I wasn’t as fond of on the album held much deeper meaning for me post-concert. As a final side note, the LCD backdrop was showing beautiful pictures of horses and pastures throughout this song. The context was nice, but it was time for a change of pace, as Eabha welcomed us to follow Mairead through…

The Hills of Ireland- As others have mentioned, Mairead Nesbitt is onstage for the whole of “Ride On”, so this song is not performed barefoot as it was during the Destiny DVD. However, that certainly does not detract from its being enjoyable in the slightest. The backdrops for this song again corresponded to the song’s subject matter, or in this case, title. That simply meant more beautiful scenery, which left me free to focus on our pixie! Again, as so many of Mairead’s numbers do, this one started off slow and got faster and faster. I was struck by how fluid Mairead’s movements were during the slow sections, as I had been at the beginning of the show. Her movement looked simply effortless, especially the slow twirls she used to get from one side of the stage to the other. Of course, as soon as the tempo changed, things kicked into high gear, and Mairead was her usual ball of energy. Unfortunately, since the audience was so much older, most of them didn’t seem inclined to clap along, which of course simply meant Mairead worked all the harder. Finally, at the end, she did get the energy she was looking for out of us. While there was lots of movement, no fast spins here, since the stage was extremely shallow. It was also interesting to note that the backdrop colors and lighting shifted as the tempo picked up and really contributed to keeping us all engaged. This led to…

The Whole of the Moon- In keeping with the solo theme, Susan joined Mairead N on stage to perform this song, against a backdrop of night sky images. This song is so catchy, and upbeat, and wonderful in Susan’s capable voice. This was actually the song thus far that had the most choreography to it, outside of Mairead N’s solos of course. It’s when Susan is given numbers like this one that I am struck by the fact that she is legitimately a triple threat. (Singing, dancing, acting). It’s easy to see why she nails parts like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde and Sandy in Grease. Susan believes what she’s singing and creates such vivid scenes for her audience through her voice alone. This has been one of her standout qualities to me since my first show three years ago. She seemed to come alive with this song, and be transported into the music itself. It was amazing to watch, and if I’m honest, I found myself dancing along. The song finished beautifully, with her leaning on the piano and smiling triumphantly at Mairead N, and she received quite a round of applause.

How Can I Keep From Singing- Yet another solo piece, this one was of course sung by Eabha, and I was so eagerly awaiting my chance to hear it live. Eabha started this number on the extreme right side of the stage, almost in line with where I was sitting, and at first I wondered if she had made a mistake or missed a cue. However, this turned out to be more an artistic choice, as I think it became clear to all of us that this is a song that is very near and dear to Eabha and the limited movement ensured we focused on the song, though she did cross to center stage for the final triumphant verse. My guess here is corroborated by the fact that the LCD backdrop simply showed various generic images of Irish scenery throughout the song. Eabha’s voice has been compared to Orla’s voice in the past, and even to Mairead Carlin’s lower registers, but I simply don’t think it’s possible to do her voice justice via comparison. It is unique and exquisitely beautiful, just as she is. This song seemed to be a bigger hit than some of the others with the mostly older crowd, and was met with well-deserved clapping and cheers.

I See Fire- And completing our solo lineup was Mairead Carlin’s version of “I See Fire”. “I See Fire” comes from the Hobbit trilogy of movies, specifically Desolation of Smaug. Originally performed by Ed Sheeran, and a stunning piece of music within its own right, Mairead Carlin’s cover is…well…you don’t see me speechless very often do you. The word that leaps to mind when I think of this performance is passionate. This song is not happy or cheerful, it is a dire warning of inevitable destruction, and the raw passion and desperation in Mairead’s voice here was enough to keep me rooted to the spot, openmouthed, as I listened and tried to take the occasional picture. The backdrop only added to this effect, as it showed a crumbling castle, devoured by flames as the song crescendoed, and finally flickering out with the last drum beat.

Amazing Grace- The stage went dark for an extended period, and I began to wonder what was next, as up until now, the show had actually moved at a pretty good clip. As soon as that thought raced through my brain however, I heard the telltale sound of Anthony’s bagpipes, and he was sheathed in a spotlight on a top balcony to begin Amazing Grace. As this was another song which the audience instantly recognized, they applauded for each entrance and major musical/choreographical change. This is the first song in which there were several, the first being the arrival of the girls onstage to sing/play, the second being Ray’s joining the girls on stage with a snare drum, and also Anthony rejoining the girls at stage level to finish out the song. This was not all that different of an arrangement than has been used in years past, but it was beautiful as always. I found the addition of Eabha’s alto voice to be very welcome here, and I began to cry about halfway through the song. It seemed even more otherworldly than usual, and this piece has been performed in every Celtic Woman concert I’ve seen. The backdrops used only enhanced this as they depicted elaborate stained glass windows, and were just beautiful.  Anthony actually finished the song standing center stage and it was breathtaking.

Ray’s bodhran solo was next, and he had quite a time getting everyone engaged in his performance, since this was such a sedate audience. I felt like a bit of a nuisance since I was clapping and cheering right from the start. This has definitely been polished and refined since I last saw it on the Emerald tour! There were more unique rhythms included, and they have been put together in new and exciting ways. But perhaps my favorite thing is he has expanded his “phantom tipper bit” and throws the sound into parts of his body as well as making the tipper “act” in ways which are much more versatile. Unfortunately, the one thing I think has stayed the same about Ray’s solo is that it seems much too short, but perhaps that’s just me. Watching Ray play is fascinating!

Bean Phadin- While the set list I am currently using to pen this review links the bodhran solo together with this song, I felt it really deserved its own entry into this list and was distinct enough from Ray’s performance to break the two up. It is true that Ray is the link between the two numbers, with his solo also being the lead into this, a la his bodhran solo and Nil S’en La from the Emerald tour. However, I was surprised and amused when the first person to join Ray on stage to begin Bean Phadin was Eabha, not Mairead Nesbitt. A nice change of pace. She began scat singing, and moved to Ray’s right, at which point Mairead Nesbitt entered and stood to Ray’s left to play her responses. I really enjoyed watching Eabha and Mairead play off of each other here, and Ray seemed amused by it as well.

Next to enter and join the song was Susan, who has most of the verses, though Mairead Carlin, who came onstage next takes the middle one. Eabha’s main contribution is singing the Gaelic which flanks each verse, though all of the girls participate in the chorus’. While this is not as high energy as previous “ceili numbers” have been, I would still count this as one. The backdrop was more nature scenes, mostly of the shore, since the song talks about the port town of Galway and mentions boating as well. This is a song that the girls certainly enjoy singing, similar to the joy that we saw with Teir Abhaile Riu on past tours.

The girls finished the song laughing and having fun, and shared with us the song’s context, which is about a woman who is driven mad with jealousy when the man she loves is married to another woman and she is left pining for him. They got a laugh from all of us when Eabha shared that this song is actually considered a children’s song in Ireland despite the subject matter, and they’ve all been singing it since roughly the age of five when they learned it at school.

Danny Boy- Susan acknowledged that perhaps a change of pace was in order, and invited us to share a song which “has been with Celtic Woman since the very beginning”. When she said this, my mind immediately jumped to “You Raise Me Up” for some odd reason, and I was only the slightest bit disappointed when she revealed it as “Danny Boy”. She also took a leaf out of Chloe’s book from the very first show I saw three years ago and briefly explained the context of the song. This is an easier song to pick up on the story of so to speak, but it was still nice to hear Susan’s take on it. My disappointment didn’t last long however, as the new arrangement written to fit the addition of Eabha’s voice is INCREDIBLE.  While thanks to the distinctive nature of Eabha’s voice she is very easy to hear in all of the group songs in the show, she provided a balance, an anchor of sorts, to this particular classic tune as opposed to other arrangements I have heard.

The backdrop for this song is not something I was able to get a good photograph of, but to the best of my memory it was very muted in nature so the focus would be on the girls and the music. I was also struck by the intimate staging that was used for this song. The girls stood in a simple but effective half circle formation, and even though there was a part of me that was aware that of course the girls were performing and intended to share this song with us, I was struck by the feeling that I was almost intruding on something intimate. The girls seemed to drift into their own little world for this number, and the strong connection they have with their music and with each other was more than palpable. It was something I felt privileged to witness, and I am not sure even now that I have described it in a way which does it justice.

Nil S’en La- This was an addition to the set list I was truly not expecting. It began in a way which almost seemed subdued, with Susan singing the opening phrase much slower than usual. However, my concerns about how drastic the changes would be quickly proved unfounded as it soon kicked up to its usual high spirited energy. I did notice however that the choreography was more limited than it had been in shows past, and they did not do a costume change as is typical for a number like this one. For those who are a fan of Mairead’s usual antics during this song, rest assured that those are untouched and the rest of the girls get in on the fun as well. Mairead’s enthusiasm is infectious after all. Those changes aside, it is still very much a favorite of audiences and of mine personally, with very good reason. What a fantastic way to close out the first act!
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littlecubspirit
Mairead Fan
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Posts: 29


« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2016, 04:02:05 PM »

-Intermission-

Intermission was uneventful as I did not feel comfortable leaving my seat. So, I spent most of it flipping through the program I had bought, and deleting pictures I didn’t like off my phone. The few minutes not absorbed by that were spent people watching, and then the announcement that the second act would begin echoed through the theatre and I settled back to enjoy.

Skyrim- Turns out I shouldn’t have settled back! The opening to Skyrim is very percussion heavy, and was paired with the sight of a lightning strike against a blood red sky on the LCD screen, which appeared several times throughout the piece. This is, of course, a wonderful solo by Mairead Nesbitt, and she plays it to great effect. In order to understand this piece well, it’s important to know where it comes from. It is actually the theme music to a video game, “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim”. I spend a lot of my time gaming and have spent countless hours with this particular title, a roleplaying game set in a fictional Norse land in which the player is found to be the last of the Dragonborn, a people who can speak dragon, and were at one time priests in their name, though now your mission is to protect the land and end a bitter war. You become quite powerful and influential, culminating in your success at game’s end. The game’s music is highly recognizable and the theme was praised over and over upon the game’s release.

It should tell you something then, when I say quite honestly that the version in the game itself now pales in comparison to Mairead’s cover version, and it is her version I hear in my head when I either discuss or am playing the game. It is exceptional, and if ever anyone wanted proof of how committed Mairead is to her craft, one only needs to look at this. Her performance was passionate, her movements sharp and precise and proud as she swayed and moved against the stunning backdrop. There was far less interpretive and spontaneous movement from Mairead during this piece, in part I think due to the nature of the piece itself (a song of war), and in part due to having the choir flanking her. Though the strength of the percussionists helped cover the differences a little, I found the choir to be a little small and unbalanced vocally to adequately convey the meaning of this piece, and would have much preferred a larger, mixed voice choir. Near the end of the song there is a period where the sharp staccato of a rhythm resolves into a smooth and beautiful phrasing and the song becomes one of pride. I was unsurprised to see the LCD screen change to green for this section, before returning red and lightning filled for the triumphant finish.

Orinoco Flow- Here was surprise song of the set list number two. The backdrop featured simply rain streaking down a surface, as though the screen were a window, and was the first thing I noticed as the song began. I was a little lost for a moment as I was unsure what song would warrant this kind of scenery but within seconds I figured it out. This is a song which is a group number for the three vocalists, and has been performed in every show I have seen so far. The added lightning sound effects from my last two shows were gone, and the percussionists instead provided the rhythm and sound of the storm, though not as pronounced as it would have been with the effect. The theatricality of this number has toned down significantly, and while there is some subtle choreography, the music is the central focus. Each of the girls got their own solo of sorts within the song, and I was struck by the clear resonance of their voices. Their diction is so clear, and even when they blend on the vocalizations and chorus bits, you can still understand what they try to convey. The highest vocalization during the end of the song, typically performed by Chloe and once by Susan in the past, was done here by Mairead C. She certainly has impressive vocal strength and I LOVE hearing her upper range.

The one thing I would have changed about the style and staging of this particular song would have been to bring back the capes that helped give Orinoco Flow such an ethereal feel during my very first concert. Other than that I have absolutely no complaints!

Sometimes a Prayer Will Do- This song, a solo for the delightful Susan, was approached in a manner similar to her rendition of “The Moon’s A Harsh Mistress” on the Emerald tour. While except for the musicians and percussionists the rest of the stage remained empty and silent, Susan sang this song as almost a duet of sorts with pianist Brian McGrane. It’s clear that this song holds quite a bit of emotion for Susan, and given the song’s content I am not surprised. For the very few who are unaware, this song speaks of the redeeming and comforting power of prayer in times of need. As befits the song’s solemn yet heartfelt nature, the backdrop used was of a single flickering candle flame, a light in the darkness.

This was a song that made me absolutely break down sobbing. Some of you may not know this, but I will share with you that in addition to my physical disabilities, I suffer from three fairly severe forms of mental illness. I have tried to take my life in the past, and Celtic Woman music saved me. It spawned a letter which helped me form deep relationships with the artists, and a promise that keeps me safe. Much of my hiatus from the Celtic Woman community was due to these illnesses, and I was hospitalized last year and missed the spring tour due to them as well. For me, this song was a reminder of that promise, and of the love the girls have for me. When it finished I felt as though I had been welcomed back home by the girls, and was back where I belonged. I will always associate it with these things.

I commend Susan greatly for her beautiful and amazingly sensitive and heartfelt interpretation of this song. Ironically, she actually made a slight mistake at the end of the first line, as she sang a wrong note. However, she recovered beautifully, and her performance gained strength, power and confidence from that point forward. If anyone is still doubting that the girls sing live, let this be evidence of that. I heard the misstep, but it only improved the performance for me.

Centenary observance of the 1916 Easter Uprising in Ireland- It was at this point in the show where the music was put on hold for a small history lesson from the girls. Mairead Carlin came center stage holding a sizeable book, and began sharing with us the history and significance of the Easter Uprising, which helped contribute greatly to Ireland’s establishment as an independent Republic. She explained that due to its significance, Celtic Woman wished to recognize and commemorate the event, by performing music and poetry written by Padraig Pearse, who led the uprising. Susan and Eabha then came onstage, and one stood at either side. Together, they recited a poem called “Mise Eire” (I am Ireland), with Eabha reciting the Gaelic original text, and Susan providing translation of each line. Per the program I purchased in the lobby, the translation from Gaelic was done by none other than Meav Ni Maolchatha! It was wonderful.

Then Mairead came out and performed a short fiddle interlude, well in keeping with the solemn tone of the commemoration thus far. There was a little more movement from Mairead here than in previous songs, but again, she remained respectful of the music and mood the girls worked so hard to share with us. Once she finished, Mairead C rejoined us, book in hand, and sang a short Gaelic introduction to the next song, Oro Se Do Bheatha Abhaile, a favorite of mine from the Destiny recording.

Oro Se Do Beatha Abhaile- This song was done in much the same manner as it had been performed on the Destiny recording, with minor alterations to account for stage and set design changes. It has always been a song I have been strangely drawn to, though from Mairead Carlin’s initial speech I quickly figured out why that might be. It in fact tells of a woman returning home, but the version the girls perform also makes reference to the pirate queen Grainne Ni Mhaille (Granuaile), whose story I first became enchanted with because of Mairead Nesbitt’s “Granuaile’s Dance”. Mairead Carlin asked us before the song began to imagine her meeting with Queen Elizabeth at the time to discuss the fate of her homeland, communicating in Latin as Grainne Ni Mhaille spoke no French and Elizabeth no Irish. What a thought! Needless to say, this was one of my favorite group songs of the evening, and I was amazed at how clearly and powerfully I could hear Eabha. She almost gave Mairead Carlin a run for her money. I did miss the inclusion of Meav’s vocals however, as I had gotten used to them thanks to the Destiny CD and DVD.

The backdrop for this song was mostly shore/ocean images again, no surprise when you realize who the song is about. Previous to that it had shown a special Celtic Woman Destiny logo commemorating the centenary, and also a proudly waving Irish flag. It was truly something unique and special and I am glad they added this into the tour. The commemoration concluded with another showing of the Destiny logo against a white background on the LCD screen and thunderous applause.

My Land- This song was introduced by Susan, with a bit of a solemn reminder of why the land, loss, family and hope theme is so prominent in Irish music. She shared that while today, an immigrant from Ireland would have a much easier time visiting home, in the past this was not the case and many of the early immigrants were unable to ever return. This, she said, is where the tradition of telling stories through song arose from, as it helped subsequent generations who had never been to Ireland feel connected to their heritage and homeland. “This is one of the songs they might have shared…this is My Land.”

Susan began the song and it was sung solo up until the first chorus, when she was joined by Mairead Carlin. Then it became a duet until the next chorus, when Eabha and Mairead completed the additions. Ray also joined the girls on stage at this point, playing a snare drum, as did Anthony with his bagpipes. It was really a great celebration of the Emerald Isle and just fantastic. The backdrops used were just scenery from Ireland, especially green rolling fields, and even a castle or two. Any specific things mentioned in the lyrics were also shown on screen at the proper time as well.

Like An Angel Passing Through My Room- Following that, it was time for the second Mairead Carlin solo of the evening. This song is one I often listen to when I am fighting my insomnia, and/or difficult memories and it does bring me endless comfort. It reminds me very strongly of “Scarlet Ribbons” (and perhaps even Chloe’s “Nocturne”) in tone and style, which is simply a classic for Mairead Carlin and so I am so pleased they gave her this song.

As with “I See Fire” earlier in the show, Mairead C opted for minimal choreography and movement as she sang, relying on her voice and body posture to convey her emotion. She pulled this off beautifully, and seemed to lose herself in the music as the lyrics somewhat suggest, looking into the distance as though seeing phantom images from long ago. I was also quite sleepy at this point in the evening, so I had to make an extra effort not to simply let Mairead lull me to sleep, much as I wanted to simply drift away. The background images yet again simply enhanced this effect, being soothing nighttime images in muted colors, and a crackling fire. Very comforting and safe.

The Butterfly- I was clued into what song was next by the image of a small white butterfly appearing on the backdrop. It fluttered away, and I could hardly hold back my smile. Sure enough, there was Mairead Nesbitt, once again ready to embody the titular creature. And she did, quite capably of course. Here, as usual, did she move in her most agile manner, flitting here and there and daring us to keep up. Something I was quite interested to notice was that she altered the choreography so that her playing matched well with the fluttering of the butterfly on the screen, a very nice touch. She has kept the extended arrangement that I last saw and wrote about during the Emerald tour. Each of the musicians gets a short solo, almost enticing Mairead to join them for a duet. The choreography takes her very quickly from one area of the stage to another, and she embraces it. I could tell she was really excited when she indicated Ray and called out “G’on Ray!” as he began his bit, running over to him with a small whoop of joy. Then she really kicked it into high gear to finish out the song, including some fast tight spins near the end. The background also changed at this point, from the butterfly itself to some highly colorful abstract backgrounds. Lots of fun. People finally seemed to pick up on the fact that Mairead WANTED us to clap and cheer as she played. Mairead noticed the palpable rise in energy, and finished out the number with exceptional talent and poise, as per usual.

Walk Beside Me- Eabha’s second solo of the evening came next, and what an inspiration it was. This is another song I have connected with in a very profound way and probably my favorite new addition to the Celtic Woman library besides Mairead’s “Skyrim”. This song evokes many powerful memories for me, of struggling to reach goals, of choosing to help my students while they do the same, of going through therapy and rehabilitation and so on. I watched Eabha’s graceful and warm performance with hardly a breath, and broke down in tears again as the other girls came out one by one to join her, as did Anthony, and Ray.

It was clear that this performance was deeply moving for everyone, and as was deserved, it got a humongous standing ovation. It took Mairead N quite a bit to get us to settle down, and she and Susan introduced Westering Home after thanking us for sharing the evening with them, and Eabha reciting the old Irish blessing for parting friends as Lisa Lambe, and later Lynn, had done before. The recitation of the Gaelic caused a round of applause, which threw Eabha off a bit, and resulted in a stuttered thank you, as the song got underway. It’s worth it to mention here that for these last two songs, the background screen yet again showed an impressive set of beautiful nature scenes, not the least of which was a stunning waterfall, but I was so focused on the music itself, I am using my pictures as reference here.

Westering Home- This was performed in an identical manner to its recording on the Destiny DVD, albeit with some changes to account for reduced cast size and tour staging of course. I did somewhat lament the smaller all male tour choir again with this song, as I was so used to hearing it sung with far more female voices. Ah well. Susan sang the first bit, then Mairead Carlin took over, and then Eabha of course got her moment to shine. Anthony also joined the girls for this number, and his presence was met with much enthusiasm from the girls and the audience alike. I was laughing at how much fun everyone seemed to be having and trying desperately not to cry from the realization that it was almost at an end. As the song concluded, the girls waved and blew kisses and left the stage, though the musicians continued to play.

Encore- Thankfully I have seen enough Celtic Woman shows that I know that what seems like the end of the show is often…not. Sure enough, that was the case here, and I got a good giggle as I saw people start to leave the theatre. The musicians noticed, and began encouraging us to clap and cheer, which of course we began to do. The girls came back onstage one at a time, Susan playing spoons, Eabha playing tin whistle, Mairead Carlin playing a concertina (baby accordion) and then Mairead and of course Matthias! As soon as I heard the spoons, I was catapulted backwards in time to my very first Celtic Woman show, to Lil Lambe playing them during a certain song. I hardly dared to hope! But of course, as soon as I heard the melody I knew it was in fact Teir Abhaile Riu, albeit a very much remixed version, abbreviated for the encore it was. It was great fun though and I really found I liked the new arrangement which had a fuller deeper sound than ones I have heard previously. Alas, it was over quickly, and as had been the case during Emerald Tour Mairead Nesbitt introduced and then jammed briefly with each individual musician. I was pleased to see that the show was brought to a great conclusion with a formal curtain call and playoff for the girls, as they showered us in kisses and waves yet again, and the backdrop changed to feature their logo once more. Anthony even got a short solo of his own as the musicians said goodbye! But most gratifying of all? The girls finally got the standing ovation I had been aching for them to receive all night.
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littlecubspirit
Mairead Fan
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« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2016, 04:02:53 PM »

I would be very remiss if I did not close out my epic review of my Celtic Woman Destiny show with a few final thoughts on the show, and on Celtic Woman as an entity.
On Celtic Woman’s recent changes (onstage and off): I was very nervous when I first heard that David Downes was leaving his position as musical director, as I couldn’t really imagine a way forward for the group without him at the helm. This foreboding did not ease with the announcement of Gavin Murphy as musical director, as I had never heard of him before. However, once Meav Ni Mhaolchatha was confirmed as vocal director, I was intrigued to see where this new chapter would lead. I am so glad I continued to weather out the changes as these behind the scenes shifts have come into full effect. I love the way the group is going musically, and it is so nice to hear and see a reinjection of diversity into so many areas.

One of the few changes I am less than enthusiastic about is the decision for the newest touring choir to be all male. I can somewhat understand why this decision was made, as of course the starring line up is all female, but I’m not so sure I agree with it. I very much appreciated the mixed choir that was used in the Destiny DVD recording, and while I can see where touring with a choir of that size might be hugely impractical, I think backing the girls with a mixed choir would have provided more opportunities for interesting underscoring and playing with harmony and tone. I found myself very much missing Sarah Gannon and Edel Murphy, but of course I wish them nothing but the best in their new endeavors.

Craig and Nick are very much missed as well, and this new show does not include much dancing, featured or otherwise. This came as a bit of a surprise to me, especially in a show with as heavy a dose of Irish flavoring as the current tour has. However, as with all the things I am offering commentary on, the decision does not rest with me. I would be interested to see if dancing is re-added to the show in future at all, as all of these changes fade and Celtic Woman settles into its new groove. Dancing is such a crucial part of Irish heritage after all.

New musicians! I was a bit shocked to see Andy Reilly is no longer with the group, and Mairead introduced their new drummer as Fran Green, which does not match with the name currently listed in the program, so perhaps he is a temporary member? In any case, he did a fantastic job. Uilleann piper Tommy Martin has also bowed out, with newcomer Amos Dillon in his place, and Ewan Cowley has moved on to be replaced by Gavin Murphy (musical director?) Eoghan O’Neill is still on bass, and as I mentioned much earlier on, Brian McGrane is still their current pianist. All of them, particularly Gavin, were quite talented and they make a fine team. Unfortunately, people were cheering so loudly that I did not catch the names of the choir members, but they do not appear to be the names listed in the program either. I wonder why?
Lastly on this topic, Maggie Seidel has ended her time working with Celtic Woman Ltd. While Madstone is still managing their tours, and Dave Kavanagh is still involved, it seems as though things have become noticeably more friendly in the fan relations aspect of things. The girls seem far less rushed and things begin and end on time, even with things like M and Gs to account for. And those seem to have improved if others’ reviews are anything to go by. I certainly hope this is a continuing trend.
Staging: I was quite intrigued by the large, fixed set when I first entered the theatre, as you’ll remember from the beginning of my review. “a stage width set of stairs the main focus of the lower set, then a platform where the piano sits divides the stairs into two smaller but still stable flights which have platforms at the top for the girls to use, as well as one drum kit being on either side of the stage on these platformed areas. The rest of the musicians are arranged around the base of the stage on either side. But perhaps the most drastic change from other shows is that the backdrop of the set is now a giant LCD screen, which showed the logo for Destiny prior to the show, but became a focal point by streaming images which related to each song’s content throughout the show. It was really beautiful and a cool way to incorporate some fresh technology.”

 Technology: I have to admit, while I did not enjoy the projected backgrounds during the Destiny concert DVD, I very much enjoyed them on the tour. Firstly, the size of the screen used was greatly reduced from the taping, which made the images much easier for audiences to see and process without requiring us to split our attention away from the girls. The images chosen as backdrops throughout the concert clearly were selected with as much thought and planning as the musical numbers themselves, as they either depicted things sung about or simply enhanced the mood of the song and gave us an additional anchor on which to forge an emotional connection with the show. I was very pleased to see that none of the images used would have been likely to trigger photosensitive seizures in audience members either.

Lighting: This year, blue seems to be a favorite color of the lighting designers, though there is a fair amount of red for certain numbers (“Skyrim” “I See Fire”) and a healthy dose of Irish green. I actually like the emphasis on cooler toned blue, as it gave the use of spotlights a more dramatic effect, and helped to focus our attention on the girls, rather than becoming distracting by going through every color of the rainbow. I think this decision for a much more collected and calmer lighting scheme has also contributed to another massive change in the lighting department. Spotlights are now utilized much more sparingly and to greater effect. Also, gone is that nauseating strobing effect which was such a fixture in previous shows. Much less headache inducing, not to mention a step up in terms of accessibility and inclusivity.

Sound: Despite early reviews saying that sound was a problem, whether it be distorted, unbalanced, or volume issues, none of these issues seemed present at my show. There are no instances which stand out as particularly startling or ear grating, though of course Anthony’s bagpipes make a statement and can surprise you if you are unprepared. I was surprised at how clear and crisp the sound was, even near the rear of the theatre where I was sitting, though of course I’m sure it helped that the acoustics in the venue I was in were fantastic.

The girls’ voices were distinct, and very lovely throughout, and even though I was not close to the stage I could absolutely tell they were singing/playing live. There were little changes in phrasing and tone during numbers that made the live concert a new and separate experience from watching Destiny on DVD. I was also pleased that the microphone they used for Mairead’s fiddle was of high quality and I didn’t hear as much static or distortion as I have in previous performances. Additionally, when she made introductions or otherwise spoke onstage, the sound was much louder and easier to hear onstage. I think she may have been wearing a small body mic.

Costumes: One of the trends I picked up on which I’m sure is a result of the overhaul that Celtic Woman is currently going through is a sense that various things about shows and such were being taken back to basics. This has come through in the lighting, sound and set design, and in some of the musical elements as well, and I think it’s for the best. One of the most obvious signs of this simplification lies in the costumes created for Destiny.
The girls each have two dresses, one for Act One, one for Act Two. No “ceili dresses” though “ceili songs” still are in the mix. Gone are the veils which accented songs like Orinoco Flow, and other such accoutrements. Though the costumes are the same as those used on the Destiny recording I will still describe them here. They are simply too beautiful to resist.

Susan: Act 1: A warm magenta strapless dress, with a sweetheart neckline and full ball gown skirt with lace underpinning. The top half of the dress is accentuated with heavy ornate copper/silver beadwork in a swirling, elegant pattern. Act 2: A beautiful A-line style dress with a very low cut sequined halter style top half, and a simple unadorned bottom half. A wide ribbon like wrap joins the top and bottom half.

Mairead Carlin: Act 1: A deep crimson strapless dress with a sweetheart neckline and full ball gown skirt with lace underpinning. The top half of her dress is adorned with intricate black lace work, which accentuates her fair skin and dark hair and complements them nicely. Act 2: By far the simplest of all the second act dresses, Mairead C wears a spaghetti strap royal blue dress, almost completely without embellishment, except for a thin studded belt-like pattern around her waist which gleams when it catches the lights, and some sequined pleats at the bottom of her skirt.

Eabha: Act 1: A pale orange/coral colored strapless dress with a sweetheart neckline and full ball gown skirt with lace underpinning. The top half of this dress is accentuated with silver rhinestone embellishments that form a leaf and flower pattern. Act 2: Eabha is again in a strapless dress with an A-line style skirt, complete with sweetheart neckline. As with the other girls, it is royal blue The top is accented with sequins which follow the lines of her figure in the dress. It’s stunning.

Mairead Nesbitt: Act 1: A deep purple corset style top and loose flowing layered purple skirt. The variation in Mairead’s outfits occurs because she likes to have freedom of movement and of course uses said freedom to great effect! Her top does retain a sweetheart style neckline in the first act however, and is accented with heavy ornate silver beadwork. Act 2: A royal blue corset style top, with the slightest of sweetheart necklines and lines of sequins, and a loose flowing layered royal blue skirt which looks to be made of satin and tulle. She is ever her usual pixie self.

I find the patterns in costuming for this tour interesting. In the first act, the girls wear dresses of different colors, but similar designs. In the second act, the dresses are the same color, but designed differently for each artist.

Song Selection: I was actually quite happy that Celtic Woman seems to be going back to its roots and really celebrating Irish heritage through song. Much as I love that in recent years they have tried to perform a wide range of well-known and popular music, some of it, such as the “Tribute to Broadway”, or “You’ll Never Walk Alone” seemed a bit out of touch with what most people would perhaps expect at a Celtic concert. Rehashing old standards which they had done well with in the past wasn’t the smartest move either, as it can wear out a group’s catalog very quickly, and even some diehard fans like me were hoping for more variety and authenticity. I love the girls no matter what they perform, but I knew and still know there is so much more they are capable of. Granted, the “best of” shows like Emerald were exceedingly useful in getting a newbie fan caught up, so I really shouldn’t complain.

Choreography: I noticed both during the Destiny DVD and the live show I attended, the choreography is much more minimal than it has been in years past, though this is especially true of the current live show. Swaying and arm gestures are preferred over fast, hard to follow intricate movements, though some walking to different areas of the stage and some spinning does occur. The choreography that is done for this show is extremely tasteful and can be easily adapted to a wide variety of venues, while still being exciting and complementing song choices well. Of course, in this area, the one wild card who is full of surprises is our lovely Mairead Nesbitt, fairy fiddler that she is!

Atmosphere: Destiny felt like a more intimate and deeply personal show than the past ones I have attended, and it was such a cool feeling. The girls made every moment feel special and enjoyable, and as much as I didn’t want the show to end, I walked away feeling satisfied with the show I had seen. It was truly beautiful. There were some things I wished the audience had been more receptive to, like clapping for the girls, and I was also bothered by the nearly half empty theatre despite very reasonable ticket prices and a world class show. Friends of mine who have lived in Peoria far longer than myself don’t really understand it either.

But the biggest error on the audience’s part was far more egregious than that. There was a young man in a wheelchair sitting in front of me, who had quite a severe disability, and from what I could see, he did not have use of any of his limbs. Ergo, he could not clap for the girls, and instead expressed appreciation at the appropriate time by cheering, or calling out “YAY”. Audience members could be heard becoming very irritated with him, though personally, I felt as though he was doing nothing wrong. Several times he could be heard over the applause, and I heard people laugh at him for calling out and for his slurred speech. To their credit, the girls understood, and made a point of verbally acknowledging him from the stage several times, after both solo and group performances. I have never been more ashamed of my city than I was then.

Of course, the girls are always so professional and respectful of us and of each other. Celtic Woman remains one of the only groups I have seen where during solos, whether vocal or instrumental, any silent group members will turn and focus on the one who currently has the spotlight. They consistently support and help each other, and love to acknowledge and thank their musicians and fans both on and off stage. It’s amazing to see that in today’s era of entitlement, my favorite artists show no signs whatsoever.

Overall: The show is absolutely amazing and definitely not to be missed. I was hesitant about this tour because it seemed in past years like they were stretching themselves thin just to keep performing. However, there has been a renewal, and things feel fresh and exciting again, and very authentically Irish. I thought marking the Centenary of the Easter Uprising was a great way to acknowledge something important to the Irish people but bring those who might not understand its significance into the know. It was done so gracefully and respectfully. The set list is mostly new material, and nicely balanced between group and solo numbers. Thankfully, Mairead is being better utilized than she was during my past shows and receiving her full due as a full member of Celtic Woman. And what’s more, everyone is happy and enjoying themselves. It really is great craic.

The girls:

Susan: WOW! Every time I see you, I am more and more amazed by your talent. A true triple threat, and such an inspiration to me. It has been so wonderful to get to know you more as a unique artist within Celtic Woman, as you are given new material to work with.  I have nothing but love and praise for all you have brought to Celtic Woman thus far, and I know you will continue to bring so much more in future. I’ll be along for the ride.

Mairead C: I am so in awe of the graceful maturity you present both on stage and off. You are no longer a newbie to Celtic Woman, and have become an integral part of the group. Your voice has incredible range and power, and you are easily one of the most versatile singers I know of. Thank you for your dedication, and for your warmth and kindness whenever we are lucky enough to interact. I’ve kept my promise, as well. You are a superstar.

Eabha: Welcome to Celtic Woman! As the newest member of such a beloved group, I can only imagine the pressure you feel. It can certainly be intimidating. However, rest assured that you have quickly and easily captured a place in my heart, and already so enrich the group with your presence. Your voice is so unique and I love that I can hear it so distinctly in the group numbers. It adds so much depth and richness to them, and your solo numbers are breathtaking. Thank you for your warm personality, and willingness to open up to us. You are so very kind and loving. I hope you remain with us for years to come.

Mairead N: Thank you for a wonderful concert as always! You bring so much infectious energy and light to every show, and it always makes me feel wonderful to watch you perform. Thank you for your continued support and friendship, as I don’t think I will ever be able to express how much it means to me. I am eagerly anticipating future shows and projects, and I know for sure Celtic Woman nor my life would be the same without you. Shine on, you mischievous pixie! 
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littlecubspirit
Mairead Fan
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Posts: 29


« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2016, 04:03:48 PM »

After my show, getting out of the theatre proved to be more of a challenge than I could handle on my own, but one of the ushers was more than kind enough to help. I commented in an offhand manner that I was considering waiting for the girls near the tour buses, and was immediately and vehemently discouraged from doing so. The staff member tried to push me quite quickly toward the cab pickup area, but failed to notice that because she had been forced to bring me out of an accessible exit, she brought me within inches of the tour buses. As with my previous shows, this opportunity fell into my lap, and I was going to make the most of it.

I let the usher push me a little further, until she thought she had me distracted, then let her know I would be fine on my own from that point. She wished me goodnight and quickly headed inside, as it had started to drizzle, although the temperature was still in the fifties, and I was quite comfortable wearing my North Face fleece. Once I knew the only people around me were fans, I headed back over to the tour buses, settling in my chair against the brick wall of the building to wait. Thankfully, unlike my previous show, I wasn’t out there alone so I didn’t really have time to feel awkward or panicky.

We saw a few of the tech crew and waved hello, followed by the choir and Eoghan, who recognized me and asked how I was doing. I told him I was well, and he gave me a firm handshake and made sure I had enjoyed myself before moving on. Newbie drummer Fran Green was next to approach and I also assured him I had enjoyed the show and complimented his playing. He thanked me, and I smiled, but before I could ask him how he came to be a part of the Celtic Woman band he told me it would be his last show with them. I don’t know the full story here, but I’m assuming some of these musicians might be temporary fill ins until things settle down a bit more. It certainly would explain the discrepancies between Mairead’s introductions and the tour program.

The next person out the door was Anthony, who came over to us excitedly, offering greetings, hugs, handshakes, signatures, and photos. Actually, as he went down the line he accidentally overlooked me because I was so much tinier than everyone else. He heard me say something to another fan, and turned back to me, completely mortified. He took my hand in a tight grip, and said “I am SO SORRY. I didn’t even see you, I forgot about you! Misha, how are you doing? Did you enjoy the show?” This was all said very quickly, though Anthony quickly relaxed when he realized I was laughing. I reassured him that I knew he hadn’t slighted me on purpose and enthusiastically gushed that I had LOVED the show and he’d done a fantastic job as always. He thanked me, and offered another heartfelt apology before squeezing my hand and wishing me good night.
The last of the musicians we encountered at the buses was none other than Ray Fean. He came out and headed straight for the buses, looking completely exhausted, which was understandable given the late hour. But when he turned at the door and saw all of us, his face relaxed into an easy smile and he greeted each of us, asking for our thoughts on the show. Others around me offered up very detailed and helpful feedback, but I was effectively speechless. Here was RAY FEAN! This was the man who reawakened my interest in percussion and inspired me to learn how to play the bodhran… I didn’t know what to say. In the end, I settled simply for waving hello, and calling out my congratulations on a brilliant show. This earned me a smile, and that was more than enough.

Another fan standing near me commented that Mairead Carlin and Susan had gotten onto the second tour bus while we were distracted talking to Anthony and Ray. I was somewhat disappointed not to have seen them, but sent my well wishes to them via Twitter once I got home. However, it was at this point that I moved from where I had been waiting to a spot between the two buses, hoping I would still get to see Eabha and Mairead Nesbitt.

Sure enough, as soon as I moved, I saw the light come on from inside the first tour bus, and Eabha grabbed an umbrella and came rushing down the steps to say hi. Other fans immediately engaged her, but I was a little more reluctant and hung back. Everything I have gotten from the girls has been freely given by them, and I knew that as the newest member of the group, she was unlikely to know who I was. She also looked absolutely exhausted and I didn’t want to bother her. In the end, Eabha made her wishes known. She very quickly and respectfully got through with the other fans and reached a hand out to me, saying “I’m Eabha. Is there something I can sign for you?” When I seemed hesitant, she coaxed me closer and happily signed my program, on the page devoted to her. I think she thought I didn’t recognize her, since she said “I’m the new girl…but you probably knew that. And I’m so sorry to be out here meeting you in my pajamas!” This finally helped me to relax and I assured her that having done some amateur performing myself, I fully understood that while the girls have beautiful outfits to wear onstage, they are not comfortable long term! I was so pleased by the warm laugh this got, that the last of my nerves evaporated. Eabha asked for my thoughts on the show, and I told her sincerely how much I had enjoyed it. I also thanked her sincerely for her contributions to the group and indicated “Walk Beside Me” as a favorite song when asked. I was brave enough to reveal how much the song meant to me, and expressed my wish of someday using it with my special needs students when I have my own classroom. She replied, “I’m so glad it means so much to you, and I think it would be lovely if you used it with your students!” That warmed my heart more than she will ever know. We ended our interaction holding hands as I warmly welcomed her to Celtic Woman, and she gave my hand a warm squeeze as she wished me goodnight and disappeared into the bus.

During my time with Eabha, she told me Mairead Nesbitt had not come out to the buses yet, so I settled down to wait, with only minor impatience. Not five minutes later, she appeared, being escorted under an umbrella by an assistant, while pulling a suitcase and carrying Matthias. As she reached the buses, her head turned towards me, and I couldn’t help but call out her name. The next few seconds was the closest I have ever seen Mairead come to throwing and or dropping Matthias. She shoved the things she was carrying into the hands of the tour assistant who was helping her load her stuff into the bus and turned and ran to me as fast as she could.
She said my name as she reached me, and pulled me into a tight hug. The first understandable thing she said to me as she held me close was “It’s been so long!” I replied that it had only been two years, and she firmly said “Too long, Misha.” She complimented me on how well and healthy I looked, then became very concerned that I had waited out in the rain for her. In fact, her question to me was “And what have I told you about waiting outside for me when the weather’s not good?” I was properly chastised, although I still felt I’d done nothing wrong and responded back, “It’s only drizzling. At least its warmer than the 20 degrees it was last time!” My cheeky remark earned a soft glare. She gave me another hug, and then turned to the other fans who had waited, but stayed very physically close to me as a signal that we weren’t quite through yet.

As she turned back to me, I brought up the promise I had first made with her and Chloe four (holy cow) years ago. All I got in reply was “Yes, you certainly did. And?” I squeaked out a questioning “and…?” and was prompted again with “Well?” She hugged me again as I informed her that I am living independently, getting stronger every day, eating and NOT self-harming at all. I was expecting her to wish me good night at that point but then she said, “How’s school?” and I could not have predicted her excitement at my answer. She grabbed me in yet another hug as I shared with her that I had maintained straight A’s, graduated, and earned my degree and teaching license to be a special education teacher. The news was met with “That’s fantastic, I’m so PROUD of you! Good on you, Misha!” She asked to sign my program, and when I handed it over, was concerned when all there was to sign it with was a pen, and not a sharpie. She wanted me to be able to read it, and not risk it running in the rain. I told her not to worry, and accepted the program back. I congratulated her on a wonderful show, and thanked her profusely, since I knew she would have to leave soon. I was stunned as she said that before she left we needed some good pictures together! It took me a few minutes to get my brain to register that but I pulled out my phone and readied the camera for a kind fan nearby. Mairead wrapped an arm tight around me and pulled me close. We grinned like Cheshire cats, and once she was happy that the photos came out, she let me go, as I thanked her again.

She headed toward the bus, but as she climbed the steps, she turned and asked. “Are you here alone?” I answered in the affirmative, not sure why she had asked. Immediately, her next words were, “You’ll be alright getting home?” I nodded and shared with her that I lived five minutes from the venue, and that I would be calling a cab as soon as we said goodbye. She looked even more concerned, asking, “Is that safe?” She came down off the steps of the bus, as though she felt uncomfortable leaving me until she knew I was taken care of. I saw that she was looking like she might be heading back into the venue to try to make other arrangements, and tried to reassure her. Finally, the fans that had been waiting with me offered to make sure I got into a cab safely, and Mairead relaxed. She squeezed their hands and thanked them for looking after me and being so kind, sharing in a soft voice that she worried about me sometimes. I was all of five feet from her. Thankfully, I had learned to hold my tongue following the comments about the weather earlier, and refrained from a cheeky comment. At last, she wrapped me in one final hug, telling me in my ear, “I love you, Misha” as she does each time we meet. Then she disappeared into the bus, calling behind her as the door closed. “Mind yourself, love!” It made me laugh. Thank you Mairead…I love you too.

So there you have it. An epic review if there ever was one. Pictures will be forthcoming shortly, but I have lots and am excited to share them. My hearty thanks and congratulations to the entire cast and crew of Celtic Woman, who put on a wonderful show and went well above and beyond to give me a memorable evening.

Love,
Misha
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KevinR.I.
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« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2016, 07:06:24 PM »

WOW!!! AWESOME review....the Chicago Tribune just called ....they want you as their music critic  Grin The best part was you meeting with Mairead.....she`s your biggest fan...and visa versa. But anyone who knows Misha can fully understand Mairead`s reaction to her.She`s been my Skyping BFF for years....Misha, not Mairead(don`t I wish Roll Eyes.My 12 year old neighbor , who I pick up from school everyday, LOVES the Destiny CD. The Whole Of The Moon is her favorite......so I`ve converted her into a CW fan.
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Thanks to Guardian/Brian!
John910
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« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2016, 09:00:35 PM »

That was a wonderful review Misha.
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« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2016, 03:10:20 PM »

Misha, you are truly one of the great review writers in our forum's history. Articulate and so very detailed in every account. A pleasure taking the time to read this extensive experience. Very glad you attended and had the fine interactions after the show. The only thing better would have been a seat up close. It certainly sounds like a fine new show with many pluses and a few minuses, yet worth attending. Not sure I'll get to a show this tour or not as I may be moving to Alaska for a job at some point in May. The girls don't get here until the end of May. I'm very happy for you in how you have moved forward in life, despite the many challenges, and are living it fully. Thanks for the great write up!
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An fidléir's mínealaíne i sprite iomlán sin
Starman
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Tipperary's best fiddler
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Posts: 2536



« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2016, 05:23:40 PM »

Misha, you are truly one of the great review writers in our forum's history. Articulate and so very detailed in every account. A pleasure taking the time to read this extensive experience. Very glad you attended and had the fine interactions after the show. The only thing better would have been a seat up close. It certainly sounds like a fine new show with many pluses and a few minuses, yet worth attending. Not sure I'll get to a show this tour or not as I may be moving to Alaska for a job at some point in May. The girls don't get here until the end of May. I'm very happy for you in how you have moved forward in life, despite the many challenges, and are living it fully. Thanks for the great write up!

  Amen to what Scott has said!  I'm surprised more people haven't commended and thanked you for this masterful review Misha! We here know what is required to produce such a review and it is tremendously hard and time-consuming!  Thank you!  Smiley Smiley Smiley
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littlecubspirit
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« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2016, 09:12:45 PM »

Thank you so very much. High praise coming from both you and Scott!
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VonnyandJohn from Oz
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Posts: 120


« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2016, 11:05:38 PM »

Misha, just had to say that I absolutely loved your review, all the little details - feels like I was there with you. Thank you so much.
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rugperson
Fiddlin Pixie
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Posts: 69


« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2016, 03:15:34 PM »

well done Misha, your review only makes waiting for my show even more painful but it will come. thank you again for your great review.

Peter
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