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Author Topic: Celtic Woman at Red Rocks, then and now.  (Read 424 times)
Moscapoet
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« on: June 09, 2017, 08:40:36 PM »

    Red Rocks with Celtic Woman has been a tradition for me since 2007. I missed the one in 2006, but have been to all the others there since. I considered it, and Albuquerque to be home shows since I was four hours from both and since they were my first two shows.

    Back then Celtic Woman was touring their A New Journey show which they had filmed the previous year. It was the original cast, although Hayley Westenra was alternating with Meav on that spring tour. I only saw the Meav shows because the first Red Rocks show in May was canceled and then postponed until the end of the tour because of weather. It is the only Red Rocks show ever to be canceled. But the re-do with two nights was glorious! I was row 20 the first night, as I had been originally scheduled to be in the May show. Night two was an accident for me because of car trouble. The car was not fixed until mid-afternoon so I figured I’d stay on for the second show. I called Ticketmaster and was shocked to have gotten third row nearly center! But the car acted up again and I got a rental at the last moment for the drive up from Colorado Springs. I got to my seat just as they were starting the opening number. It was a great show and at one point Lisa Kelly looked right at me when she was doing The Blessing. Wow. It was very early in my CW experience but I had already booked to go to Ireland for the Christmas DVD recording. I was not on line yet so wrote no review. All that would come after the recording.

    Red Rocks is an amazing, and iconic, venue set in the rocks outside Morrison, Colorado. It was built within a natural amphitheater during the depression of the 1930’s by WPA workers. It has been a marvel since and the most famous groups and artists on the planet have performed there. Not the least of which has been Celtic Woman. And each of their shows has brought fan and artist alike some truly special moments. The 2017 edition would be no different. To this point the two nights of 2009 were the most special. Some of that are for reasons unique to the Mairead forum. On these two nights she would use the green Incredibow, at least part of the time, we gave her as a birthday gift earlier in Dallas. I for one was overwhelmed emotionally by this. We also had a huge fan gathering that would not be surpassed until the DVD recording in Atlanta in 2011. I catered the venue restaurant meeting room for that both nights. Another special one was 2013 for Chloe’s birthday. I did not know for sure I’d be there because I was recently out of emergency surgery. Most of us wore pink birthday T-shirts designed by one of our members. Most had no clue it would be her last tour with CW. Some of us suspected it was getting close. Chloe herself made it all the more special by coming out to see her Chlovers by the bus after the show. She hugged everyone, signed things, and we did a group photo that later appeared on the official Celtic Woman tour page thanks to Michael Elder. 2015 was also special because it was a Maireadfest and she later also graced some of her fans with after show time as did Mairead Carlin. Little did many know it would be Ms. Nesbitt’s last CW show at Red Rocks. Each time the cast varied a little, but the show was always amazing.

    Fast forward to 2017. The only original cast member now left was Ray Fean. The second longest term member is Anthony Byrne, the piper, who began with them at the Powerscourt recording in 2009. Of the front row Susan has been with them since 2012, Mairead Carlin since the second half of 2013, Eabha since 2016, and Tara is brand new to the group as of late last year. None of the band or choir had been there prior to this. The fan gatherings have gotten much smaller, victims of the economy, and for some, of the changing lineup. This would be my first CW show without Mairead Nesbitt in it. For many of us she was the show. Not that we didn’t love everyone else or that they weren’t superb artists, but Ms. Nesbitt is why this forum exists. She has long plucked our heartstrings. She has inspired me personally and she knows it. I have called her my muse and she is in my poetry, lyrics, songs, and novel. Yet I had to go. I had seen M in her new gig with Rocktopia in Atlanta only a few weeks prior. Now it was time for me, like other fans and their favorites of the past, to suck it up and give the new girl a chance. I had always told other fans to do that when others left and new artists came in. So, I must practice what I preach. And Tara is an amazing and versatile artist in her own right. No, she is not M, nor does she try to be. She has her own gifts and presence and we all owe her that place in the long line of Celtic Woman girls. Each has left a legacy in the group and drawn individual fans to them. Sadly, none of them in the current lineup save for Ray and Anthony will ever know the amazing first night DVD recording for Believe in Atlanta in September 2011. But they had, or soon will have, the Red Rocks experience. That by itself is beyond description. It must be experienced as an artist and as a fan.

     So, I built a week of travel around this show. I cannot do many shows now because of the cost of travel to and from Alaska. So, I combined a business trip to Houston with this Denver show. As it turns out I could do some business back in my former home the day after that. We had thought about seeing the Pueblo show too but the good seats were gone. I flew out of Anchorage at 0045 Friday the 2nd. It was still daylight when I arrived a couple hours prior to departure. I changed planes in Seattle but the inbound was late so I was lucky to make the connection. I flew to Denver to have lunch with concert pal, Amy, and some of her gal pals. I took the train to and from the airport and was back in time for an evening flight to Houston on another airline and it too ran late. I spent a couple days down there staying with Scott Taylor and doing some family business. We flew up the morning of the Red Rocks show and then went to meet Mike at the venue to watch them set up. It was then time for lunch but with only four of us. Not that long ago we had twenty. A brief change back at the hotel and then it was off to the venue so Daniel could pick up the M & G passes. I was lucky in that a couple could not go so I got one of the passes. The meeting was held in a dressing room upstairs behind stage. That in itself was very cool. Tara was first in line, followed by Eabha, Mairead, and Susan. Some brief small talk and then the photo. About twenty folks for the meeting but it was not hurried. It was not the longest or shortest time I’d had for one of these. Back down to our seats, many of which were second row. In all nine familiar faces were there that I knew about. Anthony could be seen wandering a bit and taking photos. Eabha’s fiancée and dad were there and at intermission I made sure to congratulate her fiancée. I did not wish to intrude so I made it brief. But now it was show time. Weather was far better than predicted and only a cool brisk breeze persisted for about half the show. It was enough to lend some nice effect during the show with the girls’ dresses matching the dramatic background scenes depicted on the video screen behind them.

    I’ll approach the music in blocks by artist rather than in order. Again, I apologize for the lack of fadas throughout as my computer isn’t set up for that. No longer was it Lisa Kelly, Orla , Meav, Chloe, and M. This is a very different group now. It is no less talented, and the show no less lovely. It is different as they all have been. But it is also Red Rocks where magic happens. Tonight would be no different.

    Group pieces start off with a somewhat Anglicized Mo Ghile Mear. Over the years I never figured it as an opener but it works OK here. It isn’t Sky, Dawn, and Sun, but it is upbeat enough to get the job done. It is, however, a bit tamer than in the past without the heavy percussion. In fact this show is more acoustic than past shows. It is lighter. They follow it with a song I have always liked. It is actually one of the songs I did in vocals class at university in the early 90’s when I had gone back to school. It was not one of my three finals but was one of the midterm exams. It is the song from the movie, Titanic, My Heart Will Go On. Most know it as a Celine Dion song. Here it is done in lovely harmony. In fact, the harmonies here are as lovely as the four girl ones they did back in ANJ. That is because the ranges and tonal qualities are vastly different between the artists. MC on high, Susan in the middle, and Eabha in the low. It would be a glorious night for harmonies. A few songs later Anto is up on his rock perch and we get Amazing Grace. I have fond memories of this from when I first heard them do this at Powerscourt in 2009. And there was Anto then on top of the estate. The next group piece actually is instrumental with band and choir along with Tara doing a lively session tune called The Kesh Inn. Very much like some of the more recent tours where they had a fair amount of Ceili songs and tunes. Next group tune is Danny Boy and Tara joins them on harp. Some may get tired of hearing this song but it is fresh with each CW show. To end the first act Nil Sen La has the group on a high energy romp. It, like Mo Ghile Mear, has now been done largely in English. I do like the songs better in Gaelic but it’s still nice.  Act two opens with Teir Abhaile Riu. The choir lads all have bodhrans, MC is on accordion, Susan on spoons, Eabha on tin whistle, and Tara on fiddle. It’s a good second act opener that gets folks energized. A few songs later is Westering Home. It’s a Scottish song and one I have liked since it debuted on an earlier DVD. The Ray solo is expanded to others joining him and then it morphs into a song called Oro Se Do Bheatha Bhaile which is very nice by the group. Eabha starts in with Walk Beside Me and is joined by the others. She has a fine voice for this song. A lighter, more acoustic Orinoco Flow is up next. In spite of the lighter sound it still garners a lot of hoots by the audience and has long been a crowd favorite. Time To Say Goodbye is greeted by a loud “Awwww” coming from a woman in the audience which brings a chuckle among the crowd. MC starts it off and is joined by the others. I love this song, usually done by a male and female duet, and it again has some glorious harmonies. MC pierces the night sky and into the rocks with her high notes. In this show also is the usual You Raise Me Up, moved from earlier in the second act to later where it is more fitting. We now get another group favorite of mine, The Parting Glass. Eabha again starts it (I LOVE her solo of this!) and the others join in. And here, if it were a normal show on this tour, it would end. But not tonight. It is clear the cast is quite overwhelmed by the venue, the audience, the entire experience. At times throughout the night they have been breathless from altitude yet pushed through. But as this show reached its end the emotions in them were palpable. We saw this a lot in the past, especially in 2009. Audience matters and we had not heard a crowd quite this good here since then. So, unbeknownst to us, they had recorded a song earlier in the day they would tack on as an encore tonight. It was the U2 song, I still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. And they encouraged the audience to join in with the chorus. We did, and some the whole song. Marvelous harmony and solo work within and Tara lent her voice at times as well, which she is fully capable of doing. This ends the night on a huge high.  They say to leave them wanting more. Funny thing was the artists may have wanted more as much as the audience! But there is where it stopped. The group songs had marvelous solo work within them as well as superb harmonies. Very much old Celtic Woman in sound.

    Longest serving soloist in the group is Susan McFadden. For far too long she was given hand me down songs largely from Lisa Kelly’s repertoire. While she did (and does) them fine, I do prefer her own material. That would not be the case tonight with her two solos. Others in CW had done them. But, no one had done the first one the way she does on this tour. The choreography for this is stunning and the execution of it mesmerizing. It is She Moved Through The Fair. Meav did this one early on followed later by Chloe and then MC. But here Susan is joined by a choir member in a dance that is nearly ballet. It is flowing and graceful and compliments the song very well. And she is barefoot. I had been told to expect something very special with this song and arrangement and they were right. It is one of the high points of the night. It may be a rehashed song but it is so totally new you didn’t care. I gave it a standing ovation. Easily the most beautiful of moments on stage for Susan with CW. Her second act solo Is The Voice. She has the power for it and the presence. For most of the long time fans it is a song long owned by Lisa Kelly. Alex did it briefly and Susan has as well before. She does just fine with it but I do find myself wondering why it is so hard for CW to give her new material when there is so much out there in Ireland. Regardless, she really shined on the night. Something about that place draws out the best in everyone on stage.

    Second longest in the front row is Mairead Carlin. MC, or MerMairead as I like to call her, has a huge high range. Even in this thin air she shot rockets out into the clearing skies. One would have thought NORAD would have been on alert! Her first act solo is another long time CW song done by a long list of artists. Yet each has given it their own twist and made it unique. It is Dulaman. Meav was the sophisticated one, Lynn the shy girl next door, Lisa Lambe the party girl, and now MC the seductress. And in this choreography she is truly that. Part belly dancer, part gypsy, and positively steaming. The choir lads lift her off and on stage at points in the song and one would guess the seaweed was getting rather wilted from the heat. No one CW artist owns this one. Her second act solo is a truly operatic Ave Maria. Of course, most of us know Chloe’s version which also has some glorious highs in them. But MC is on another level now. I was impressed with her from day one in Las Vegas 2013 in her Christmas solos where she blew the roof off the place. But it seemed they tamed her down a bit on previous regular tours. Not now! Standing ovation. Bravo!

    Eabha McMahon is still fairly new to the group. This is only her second spring tour. I never tire of her voice. Orla was like that. Haunting, ancient, a voice that reached deep into your very being. She won me over big time when she was with Celtic Nights. She uses a style called Sean Nos which is unaccompanied vocals. She is her own instrument. Her first act solo harkens back to the Isle Of Hope Tour and following. Well, it is Isle Of Hope. She tells the tale as only a voice like that can. Thoughtfully, perhaps mournfully at times, but as well as anyone else who has done it and better than some. The program lists her second act song as simply Sean Nos songs then labels the song as Ard Ti Chuain. In it the very fabric of Ireland is exposed. The stones weep. The second song is not labeled but is equally lovely.  I give a standing ovation. This is an ancient form of communications long before writing. It is storytelling in song. Even when the written word came many could not read or write, so such forms, not unique to just Ireland, prevailed in preserving history. Eahba is hugely into charity work with the poor and children. She has gone to various places in the world doing that. Somehow this style fits that. She can take it anywhere and needs no instruments save for her voice. She can convey Ireland in a unique way that moves people even though they don’t know the language. She had a marvelous performance in a place as iconic as the homeland she comes from.

    And then we come to Tara McNeill. Like MC she is a northerner. She comes from the same county as my Irish ancestor, George Gillespie, County Antrim. She is not the petite firefly of Mairead Nesbitt. She is a taller form (she called herself “big red” in a Red Rocks post). Almost Amazon by comparison to the one she stepped in for. She would not flit like a butterfly, yet she would move. Her expressions at times were intense. She meant every note and felt them. She is very diverse in her gift and all those forms were used this night, Fiddle, harp, and voice. This was a huge thing for her to be invited in as the latest Celtic Woman. And this was a huge night for her. On any CW tour where they stop at Red Rocks this is THE show. She did not shrink from the challenge. Her first act solo is called Around The World and is a slow/fast combo, although not super slow or super fast. It’s a nice way to get acquainted with her. But it is her second act solo that grabs me. It’s a slow air called For The Love Of A Princess. It is glorious and she connected with it and conveyed it beautifully. M always moved me with her slow airs. I was either exhilarated and clapping or teary eyed. Well, Tara got to me. Good for her. She will leave her mark with this ensemble and build an ever growing fan base during her time with the group, which may be for quite awhile. I consider myself a fan. She earned it long ago before I ever heard of her. Her harp work harkens us back to 2007 and Orla. Her varied dimensions I hope will be well utilized in each new show and tour. She sang along part of the time in the encore as well. So, Tara, I tip my hat to you and wish you well. Thank you for helping make the night magic.

    This will be the last CW review I do in the Mairead forum. From now on my CW reviews will either be in my blog or in a Facebook post. It’s kind of silly posting CW reviews in a forum where the artist is no longer part of the group. It has been ten years now since I first saw CW at Red Rocks. Every one of them has been special. Each of them had meetings either formal or informal or both, as was the case here. CW at Red Rocks is a MUST for any Celtic Woman fan. The faces and sounds have changed over the years. The show is neither better nor worse, just different. Past met present for me this night in 2017. One can only wonder about the future, treasure the past, and live in the present. It isn’t cheap to do these trips now but, as with all the other Red Rocks shows, it is worth every penny. From this show I took Scott Taylor to see the San Luis valley and the scenery on both routes leading to it from Denver. We visited an aviation museum in Pueblo the day after CW performed there.  And then it was home to await whatever Celtic Woman and its artists past and present put forth in the months and years to come. Which reminds me, I gave the front four copies of the songs Liv and I created as well as copies of the fan documentary I did during the 2011 Believe recording. None of them experienced that. It was about girls prior to them and how they touched the lives of fans. In giving them those I hope to convey to them how they too can and will touch the lives of others, perhaps profoundly, just doing what they do and being who they are. They may never know the impact or literally the lives they save. But in those two discs I hope they understand the inspiration they provide. On the roughest night in the grind of a tour I hope they will think back and be comforted by what is on those discs. And now I bid you all farewell for now as I await whatever M has coming up. These reviews go all the way back to early 2008. They are a vast archive meant for artist and fan alike. We have long been the home of the CW show review. As that winds down I hope the artists in the group now will look back on these moments in CW history through the eyes of their fans.   
« Last Edit: June 10, 2017, 12:04:14 PM by Moscapoet » Logged

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maloney
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« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2017, 09:30:03 PM »

Always appreciate your efforts to get the reviews done so timely.
Many things have changed over the years.  All but Ray have left, but there remains a magic only amplified at Red Rocks.
We have attended many shows, but only a few "events" really stand out in our minds.
Powerscourt, Atlanta (Believe), Red Rocks, Las Vegas, and our last show in San Antonio.
What makes these stand out are that they were shared with great friends.  I hope that we will be able to continue to share these with each other.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2017, 09:31:52 PM by maloney » Logged
jturbitt
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« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2017, 11:09:58 AM »

Thanks Scott.
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CWazyTom
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One CWazy Canadian!


« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2017, 01:18:39 AM »

It's always a pleasure to read your reviews.

Group pieces start off with a somewhat Anglicized Mo Ghile Mear. Over the years I never figured it as an opener but it works OK here. It isn’t Sky, Dawn, and Sun, but it is upbeat enough to get the job done. It is, however, a bit tamer than in the past without the heavy percussion.

It's fascinating hearing the perspectives of those who have seen some of the earlier tours live. I found it an exhilarating opening. It is kind of ironic that an arrangement based on their most heavily orchestrated and percussive album was tamed down a bit for the tour relative to previous arrangements. The bridge that Tara does shortly before the finale of the song is my favourite part. If I could live in those moments when she draws her bow across the strings I would be happy forever.


In fact, the harmonies here are as lovely as the four girl ones they did back in ANJ. That is because the ranges and tonal qualities are vastly different between the artists. MC on high, Susan in the middle, and Eabha in the low.

Yes yes YES!!!! It's so rare to find a post that compares the Classic and Current ladies and succinctly (yet effectively) explains the harmonies of the Current ladies are different, yet still thoroughly enjoyable. Thank you!


Re: Susan's songs: For far too long she was given hand me down songs largely from Lisa Kelly’s repertoire. While she did (and does) them fine, I do prefer her own material.
I do find myself wondering why it is so hard for CW to give her new material when there is so much out there in Ireland.


I agree. I'm not sure if Susan, as the most senior vocalist, gets to perform a lot of these songs as sort of a bridge to the past for the fans. Perhaps they feel that with so many changes in the group and with none of the original leading performers left, they would alienate some of the fans if they didn't deliver new arrangements of the Classic Celtic Woman songs. But I do prefer it when they perform new songs. As much as I hate to even think it, Celtic Woman won't be around for ever. There are so many songs they haven't covered yet and I'd love for them to cover some of those songs while we still have a chance to hear them.


Re: Mairead Carlin: It seemed they tamed her down a bit on previous regular tours.

I agree. They really unleashed her on Voices of Angels compared to Destiny. She has such astonishing range and power. I'm glad they're letting her spread her wings and fly on the regular tour this time.


Re: Eabha's song: I believe the second half of her Sean Nós performance was called Sadhbh ní Bhruinneallaigh.  I'm really glad they included this in the show. It added variety and culture to the production. It also gave Eabha a chance to showcase her voice and a style that is very important to her.


Re: Tara: She meant every note and felt them.

I wholeheartedly agree! There is nobody like Mairead Nesbitt. But there is also no one like Tara. Those little expressions Tara makes when she performs are adorable. I can tell how much she's enjoying herself and I can feel every note right along with her. I can feel everything Mairead plays too. They just have a different way of expressing themselves on stage and I enjoy both of their styles immensely.


Thank you so much for doing these reviews, Scott. I look forward to reading more of them, wherever you may post them.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2017, 01:04:58 AM by CWazyTom » Logged
dbbii
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« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2017, 09:55:58 AM »

What else can I say!! Great review of a great show.
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Ron
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« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2017, 12:24:19 PM »

Magnificent review as always, Scott. And thank you for allowing me to live vicariously through you as one of the few "super fans" who has not been to Red Rocks. It was always a little far left of the Mississippi for me, especially considering air fare would cost me double as I'd feel compelled to bring my "better half" with me. Judging from reviews such as this and from others, it does seem to be a magical experience.

As you mentioned, this is also a landmark review in that you said it would be your last for CW with the fact that our "Mistress of the Strings" is no longer with the show. It's for that reason that I only wrote an abbreviated review on Facebook. So if I may, I'll compare notes with you on my experience with the show itself here for the benefit of you, but mainly for the benefit of members here who are not on my friend's list on Facebook.

I agree with pretty much everything you said. However, "She Moved Through the Fair" rehashed? Not for me. As my parents always celebrated our Celtic heritage, I grew up hearing this song. It's always been one of my favorites. And as my first show was with you in the opening of '11, I never had the opportunity to see CW perform that song live until the Agnew/Lambe duet featured on the "Emerald" tour. For me, that was one of the highlights for THAT tour. We know that whatever Chloe sings, she sings very well. But it was Lisa's breathy, vibrato ladened vocal style that really grabbed me and gave the song the traditional folk “feel” it deserves in my humble opinion. But I do agree that this new version with Susan is a highlight of this tour. Susan performs it magnificently in her own way, and the choreography is absolutely breathtaking! ‘Twas yet another beautiful performance of one of my all time favorites.

Yes, if one were to look up the definition of Sean-Nós, it does say that it is, for the most part, performed accapella. But I have also seen where this doesn't necessarily define the style. It may also be accompanied depending on the circumstances. You're probably aware of this, but just for the sake of clarification here, it's the unique way the performer treats the consonants, vowels, inflection, and the tonality that gives it a very ancient, ethereal feel. We know Éabha has been trained in this style since childhood, and it was another highlight of this show for me that she was able to showcase it as it should be done, even with instrumental accompaniment.

https://www.facebook.com/celticwoman/videos/10155131404952838/

I also agree with a third highlight; Tara’s “For the Love of a Princess”. I too was deeply moved by her rendition of this song. No, she isn’t Máiréad. She’s Tara. And I’m so glad CW didn’t try and turn her into a Máiréad “clone”. That wouldn’t be fair to either of the girls. Máiréad is unique, but so is Tara. As you’ve said, she has the skills to build her own identity as a Celtic Woman. She’s already garnering an impressive following among the fans. She’s doing quite well.

I will always support the cast members that I’ve come to know and love whenever they come within a reasonable driving distance, and that includes the current CW. But as you well know, our patron fiddler has a special place in my heart, the same as your heart resides in her fiddle case. We’ve discussed this to no end both here on this forum and in private. She will always have my priority when it comes to shows. The same is true for Steph. She has grown luke warm with CW with the exodus of Lisa Lambe and Máiréad. She also misses the theatrics of the Emerald tour. She’s just not as impressed. As we were leaving the Rocktopia show in Jacksonville, she made a family decree: “That’s it. As long as Máiréad is with Rocktopia, this will replace CW as our ‘main’ yearly show (not that I would argue).” And as Tom pointed out on another thread, she intends to remain with Rocktopia for the present time.

Maybe someday we’ll yet share the magic of a Red Rocks show. I do have family and friends in that neck of the woods (though one of them decided to run off to Alaska  Wink), so I may have to make a trip of it one day. If it’s not a CW show we share there, perhaps Rocktopia if they reach that status? Who knows? Rocktopia has their own “Anthony”.  Not “Anto”, but “Tony”. Can you imagine his Marshall propelled riffs echoing through the rocks? Talk about face melting solos! We might have to beware as Chloe Lowery might cause a rock slide!

Thanks again for the wonderful review, and here’s to our paths crossing again in the, hopefully, not too distant future.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2017, 03:35:11 PM by Ron » Logged

We sing before we learn to talk. We dance before we learn to walk. Music is ingrained into our very souls from birth.
Moscapoet
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« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2017, 07:23:32 PM »

Thank you all fro the replies. It has been tradition here from day one to write reviews that are as comprehensive and heartfelt as possible. The review section here serves not on,y the fan family but also as an archive for the artists. And each of us has changed over the years. We keep every review right here and you can compare early reviews with later ones from the various members here.

Tom, thanks for the input. I'm so glad we have you here to help keep the fires stoked and some energy going. We are a far cry fro the early days when forums were the thing. Today the social pages are where folks go. But we have always believed that forums are unique in that what is posted remains accessible. Things on a social page vanish and you'd never know they were there in a short amount of time. So, I know M appreciates what we have done here and continue to do to promote and support whatever she does.

Maloney, yes, the most amazing thing that has come from the entire forum experience has been the shared moments in person with our fan family. This place has been a wonderful instrument for creating new and lifelong friendships.

John, no worries. I love doing there.

Ron, who would have ever known back in 2011 that you would meet who you have, including this most amazing of artists. It has been an honor and pleasure to have spent part of the journey with you and Steph. I too hope there will be many more opportunities as the years go forward. And thanks for your input here as well. Such follow up posts are equally read by the artists and serve as a valuable aid in their understanding of how they are being received.   
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