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Author Topic: Rocktopia - Baltimore - April 14, 2017  (Read 1496 times)
Tipperary's best fiddler
Posts: 3025

Albuquerque 2009. Forever on my mind.

« on: April 21, 2017, 04:47:41 PM »

Rocktopia. I have been writing my review of the Baltimore show in my head since last Friday but haven't had time to write it down. Now that I've seen it a second time here in Atlanta I finally have some breathing room. Note that this won't be a detailed set list type of review since without a program I couldn't identify the title or artist of most of the songs. I have never been a rock and roll kind of person and while most of what they played was semi-familiar it is outside my area of musical knowledge.

The show is a spectacular mix of genres. It spans the spectrum of classical, classic rock, and even a little opera. From Beethoven to the Beatles, from Handel to Hendrix, from Verdi to Van Halen there's a little something for everyone in there.

The group is composed of 5 primary singers, 2 male and 3 female, 2 guitarists, 1 lead and 1 bass, and a drummer. They perform with a local orchestra and choir in each city. In Baltimore it was a subset of the BSO with 16 orchestra members, 8 Strings and 8 brass and woodwind, and an 8 person choir, 4 male and 4 female. In Atlanta they performed with the full symphony and a large, probably at least 50 person, choir. It made the 2 shows very different.

Of course, my primary reason for going was that a certain fiddler we all know and love was touring with them as a guest artist. Most of you know know my story and the effect that Máiréad has had on my life. I won't go into details here but I am not the same person I was 10 years ago and I owe that all to her. Because of that I have promised to support her in whatever she does.

I was happy when she finally decided to leave Celtic Woman and do something on her own but I was also concerned that she might become just a studio artist or it might be several years before I could see her perform live again. So I was ecstatic when I learned she would be touring with Rocktopia and when the Baltimore tickets went on sale I managed to get the best seat in the house, front row pit, dead center. I began counting down the days, hours, and even minutes until show time; it had been quite a while since I was this excited about a concert!

Finally the time arrived. My seat was right up against the relatively low stage and I sat impatiently, checking my watch every few minutes. Was it 8:00 yet? The lights dimmed and a short video clip played on the large background video display with lead guitarist Tony and a classical violinist initially dueling and eventually joining together, representing the fusion of classical and rock that is the basis for the show.

After that, images of stars and galaxies were shown as the orchestra started playing "Also sprach Zarathustra", the theme from "2001, A Space Odyssey." And then, walking from the back center of the stage and through the orchestra, there she was. I broke into a smile so big my cheeks hurt. She was absolutely radiant and there was no other place in the world I would rather have been at that moment. As she began to play the tears began to flow, tears of joy, of course, but inexplicable and uncontrollable. She quickly spotted me in my Fiddler Crossing shirt and we shared a smile, just like we always have. *Sigh*

From there the show was a complete whirlwind as the music morphed from genre to genre, seamlessly blending into a grand spectacle. Unlike a Celtic Woman show, Máiréad was on stage for virtually the entire show and my eyes were pointed in her direction almost to the exclusion of everything else. The look on her face when she was playing said it all, she was extraordinarily happy and doing what she was born to do. In fact, I would be hard pressed to name a moment when she looked happier. But my favorite time to watch her has always been when she isn't playing. I cherished those times during a Celtic Woman show, especially at the beginning of "You Raise Me Up" when her spotlight was off and she thought nobody was watching. That's when her true emotions would shine through. Usually she would be smiling to herself but occasionally she would be crying and that always made me cry a little. Sometimes she would catch me watching her and we would share a secret look or smile. Tonight was no different, although she was not quite as incognito when not playing. She caught me watching a few times and old memories came flooding back.

Part way through the second act, during a brief exit from the stage, she returned minus her high heels and played the rest of the show barefoot. I don't quite know how to describe it but she has always seemed much more free when playing barefoot and she was really rockin' it! She did play one song from Hibernia as an introduction to a Rocktopia piece, the lovely but too short slow air, "Hallowed Fire." I proudly displayed my Fiddler Crossing sign, brought out of semi-retirement for the occasion, and was rewarded with one of those lovely full-face smiles that simply melts your heart. *Sigh* I could listen to her play slow airs all night.

After the show, I was emotionally drained but the best was yet to come. There was a post-show signing with all of the artists and I was, of course, especially looking forward to one in particular. For the past 8 years I have gotten Máiréad a birthday gift as a thank you and a small repayment for what she has done for me. It's always something special and personal and for the last 6 of those 8 years I have been able to deliver it in person. I was so happy that I would be able to continue that tradition tonight.

The artists were lined up behind a table, much like the early Celtic Woman meet & greets. Máiréad was fourth and I arranged to be last in line so I'd have a little more time to chat. We shared an over-the-table hug and talked for a bit. I told her that I had her gift and she asked me to wait while the other artists finished greeting fans. Once most people were gone she motioned me over to a side area and we shared a real hug, a hug unlike any I had ever received from her. We talked at length about many things, especially my new Máiréad fiddle, and it was a most amazing reunion. Finally we got to the gift presentation and, as usual, she said, "Mike, you shouldn't have." But she graciously accepted my small token and we shared another hug before saying goodbye.

It was a spectacular evening from beginning to end and my brain was reeling as it was having a difficult time deciding which new memory to playback first! Even after arriving home well after midnight I still couldn't sleep and lay awake until the wee hours of the morning.


VonnyandJohn from Oz
Celtic Fiddler
Posts: 123

« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2017, 05:23:23 AM »

*Sigh*   Thank you.
Administrator Emeritus
Posts: 13028

« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2017, 01:28:50 PM »

Perfect seat, perfect night. Some things never change.

An fidléir's mínealaíne i sprite iomlán sin
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