On Thursday night, November 4th, 2010 I accompanied my adopted blonde family and three blood relatives to a live concert of Celtic Thunder. (Said with a loud, booming Irish accent.)
For those of you who are not wise in the ways of Celtic Thunder, it’s a group of 5 (now sometimes 6) Irish vocalists who each have their special niche in different music genres and bless listening ears with their diversity of songs as well as group performances.
I’m actually surprised at how few people in this area are aware of their awesomeness. I was puzzled whenever I gushed to church friends and coworkers and got a response of, “Who’s he?” or “What Thunder? What’s that?” I imagine most of them thought it was a river dancing act or a man in a green cape who does motorcycle stunts on stage. Ha ha ha. No. (Uncultured rogues.)
I’m sorry to say the man-skirts are not present for every song.
(From left to right, starting with the dark haired standing man and ending with the sitting lad)
Ryan Kelly – Has a “bad boy” reputation from the kind of songs he’s given. If the word “bad” is in the title or main lyrics of the song, or much shmoozing of a woman is required for the performance, most likely Ryan’s going to be the one singing. His voice is rich and smooth, like a cup of bittersweet chocolate that might burn your tongue–but you don’t mind. My favorite songs of his are Desperado and Black is the Colour. Not just because my hair was a heck of a lot blacker than the woman he sang ‘Black‘ to on stage, but I love how he conveys a lot more passion through the song than I’ve ever heard. The one song I’d love to hear him sing is Music of the Night. He’d do great things with it. I knoooooow.
Keith Harkin – Is an Irish dreamboat. The. End. … Okay, fiiiiine. I’ll be semi-intelligent with this post. *sigh* Keith plays the guitar, writes many of his own songs, and has a folksy, country kind of voice. He has some strange ability to sing songs that I normally wouldn’t be fond of and make them instant favorites. There’s something about his voice that is eerily charismatic. Kind of like an addictive substance that makes you relaxed yet bubbly, looking so very pretty all the while. Champagne for example! Yes, Keith is champagne. My favorite song of his is Castles in the Air, although I’m also terribly fond of The Mountains of Mourne. I would love to hear him sing… hmm… any ballad that works well with a guitar, really. Here Comes The Sun or… Come to think of it, an acoustic version of All I Ask of You would be amazing! He should do it!!! Oh, I’d be so happy!!
George Donaldson – The “mature” one of the group. His voice has a fatherly quality to it. Whether it be in a sweet lullaby or a somber story-song, George is certainly easy to listen to. His lovely accent seems to show stronger than most of the lads in his songs, and I like that. He sounds fantastic when harmonizing with Damian in A Bird Without Wings. In fact, that song wouldn’t be half so brilliant without his part. It gives me shivers. I shall compare George’s voice to a perfectly toasted piece of honey wheat bread. Perhaps not as openly appreciated as the others, it is filling and wholesome and still makes you want more. Favorite George song; Life With You. I’d like to hear him sing more upbeat songs in the style of The Proclaimers along with some softer lullabies.
Paul Byrom – If you don’t fall in love with his voice, you will with his humor. (Just watch one interview and you’ll see what I mean.) But really, if you don’t fall in love with his voice I will deem you severely not right in the head. Paul’s forte is my favorite style; classical/Broadway/showstoppers. His voice is tender, sincere, soft, strong, breathtaking, spectacular, and makes one feel as if they’re drowning in a pool of indescribable deliciousness. My favorite of his songs to listen to is Remember Me (Recuerdame) because it seduces your listening ear with its tenderness and then ends on a large, swelling note in traditional musical style. I would love for Paul to sing anything. Or to be more specific, the songs of all my favorite musical heroes. Some good starters would be: When I Look At You (Reprise), I’ll Be There, I Believe My Heart, Where in the World, Her Voice, If I Can’t Love Her… you get the idea.
Damian McGinty – Did most of his growing up as part of the group with a voice that went from boyishly deep (Boy Soprano) to “Whoa, where did that man-voice come from?!” (Baritone <3) within the transition between two albums, it seemed. His voice used to make me go, “Awwww” and now it’s more of an “Ooooo” that you get when drinking very dark chocolate that you expected to be milk. His musical influences are crooners like Frank Sinatra and Michael Buble. Oh yes, and his eyes sparkle. No, seriously. I thought it was just a marketing ploy on the posters and ads, but I saw it with my own eyes right before me on stage and I now know his eyes do indeed sparkle. My favorite Damo song used to be A Bird Without Wings, but that was before Standing on the Corner. It would bring me immense glee to hear Damian sing something fun and unexpected like The Surrey With the Fringe On Top, or another lovely ballad that I can put on a playlist for sick days.
And the sometimes sixth who is not featured in above picture and I like to call ‘The Other Guy’ is Neil Byrne. He was also performing for us that night. He’s talented, but… I just can’t accept him as a permanent fixture to Celtic Thunder. I think his voice is too similar to Ryan’s without being quite as amazing. Maybe I just feel a misguided loyalty and don’t want the “original” five to be added or subtracted to. That is quite possible.
This may be the part where I go all fangirl on this post and ramble and squee. You have been warned.
Best family dad got us some great seats! We were right up top, and close. “So close to Keith Harkin’s hair I could feel it!” as the other major CT fan in our group pointed out. (I would like to take the time to say that this fan is of the male gender. He’s a very funny lad and I like him. )
I bounced in my seat the entire time waiting.
I did not have a program at the start because I wanted to be surprised with the song selections. This kept me rooted in the present rather than skipping ahead in my mind to songs that were unfamiliar to me, wondering what they’d be like. And the music was wonderful! After the first few songs, I realized my hands were numb from clapping and wouldn’t stop shaking and I said to myself, “Uh oh. I hope I don’t faint. I might miss something.” But I didn’t.
Funny thing about listening to live music is that the same songs you hear regularly on an mp3 player or CD take on a completely different feel. Some songs that I love on CD seemed a little… not boring, but not as captivating live. And some songs that don’t wow me with the vocal arrangements when recorded were made spectacular because of the performance. Sway, for example, is one I don’t listen to much on CD because it makes me kind of sleepy, but onstage Paul was able to show off his awesome moves that made it one of the bests of the night!
Ryan surprised me by doing a rendition of Viva la Vida! That was most excellent. It’s one of the few really popular modern songs I actually like. It’s intelligent and uses cellos. Many points are given to it.
I really liked The Dutchman. Even though it was rather a sad song… but that’s so Keith! To sing a song that I’d generally think of as tragic but end up twisting it in my mind to be a happy one so that I can be comfortable liking it. I have problems.
Home From the Sea was very nice. During the chorus that goes on about “loved ones,” Paul put his hand quite lovingly on Damian’s leg and had it directly pushed off. Hehehe. Oh, Paul. It is such moments that make CT a wondrous thing to see live. You never know what he’s going to do.
Life With You and Surfer Medley were two songs that were almost just as I expected. VERY fun to watch live. Great for car rides, but even more great at concerts. Yes. I liked them very much. Whiskey in the Jar was one that I loved seeing them (Keith and Neil) do, yet I fear I will be not singing along to the CD except in private to prevent children and mothers disapproval. “Why you singin’ about whiskey, child?” Because. I. Can.
The last song of the first act was the most memorable for me. All six manly men came out in boots and cowboy swaggers to sing and dance to Place in the Choir. Oh, man!! See, that was one of those squee-worthy surprises that I was not expecting due to my lack of program-having. It was at that point I forsook being a lady and shouted my approval with the other, less contained CT fans. They NEED to put that on a CD. Or put it on YouTube. SOMEWHERE I can watch/listen to it frequently!!
Am I anticipating the spring album? You bet your pretty penny piece I am! I don’t know what I’m saying anymore.
Our group was pretty much the last handful of persons to leave the building, as we all waited in line for memorabilia. I got my program at last, as was only right, and a necklace as well. We wandered out, took some pictures on the steps of the Memorial building…. and heard screaming. As in, fan-screaming. I asked mum what was up and she said the lads were probably loading the getaway bus and the stragglers were seeing them off.
So we walked half-briskly to the side of the building with the hope of catching a glimpse of maybe one or two of them as they passed that way. There was a small crowd gathered there where the bus waited, and we were promptly informed that most of the members had already got on. Shortish me tip-toed and jumped up a few times to see if there was anything worth seeing, and in a split-second moment of dizzying speed, I saw a flash of blonde hair and heard my mother say, “It’s Keith! He’s giving autographs! PUSH IF YOU HAVE TO!” and she pushed me straight into the crowd. So I pushed! I made use of my smallness and I pushed! (I said excuse me the entire time because I am a polite fan.)
What do you think was going through my mind within these critical moments?
I live in California. Fabulous, right? I have constant run-ins with famous people. I walk down the street and see celebrities drinking soy lattes in designer sunglasses so often that it doesn’t even phase me anymore. I wait in line behind actresses at the food places I frequent. I have drawers full of musicians’ autographs that are so commonplace they’ve ceased to impress me. So what was going through my mind was something like “Hm. It would be nice to add Keith Harkin to the list, I suppose.”
Wrong wrong wrong wrong WRONG.
I live in the valley. I’ve never in my life been to Hollywood. I’m a Republican. I shop at thrift stores. I like western bacon burgers and eating an unhealthy amount of dessert items. I don’t like soy, tofu, or too much direct sunlight, and I can’t swim so I rarely visit the ocean. I’ve seen more farm animals than famous people.
Until that night, I had never seen a famous person. Not close enough to get a picture, or call out, or say, “Hey, I like your movies, sir!” Not even close enough to know I was close. I think a game show host was giving stuff away at our mall once, but I didn’t care. Once, in Napa, I thought I saw someone who was either doing a bad job of hiding her famousness or trying to look like a famous person by wearing giant obvious shades indoors, but I couldn’t tell which. Until November 4th, I had NEVER seen an honest-to-goodness in the flesh famous person. Not at all. Not even nearly.
So, to sum up: I live in California, I had never met, seen, or spoken to a famous person, and I had no desire to, either.
I had to wait for the THUNDERSTORM!!!
That was terribly cheesy, but I can blame the long day at work now for my lack of wit!! *blames it*
So a true version of my mind at that moment is “Wow, could I actually get him to sign…? No, he’ll be gone by the time I get there because that’s my luck. Even if he wasn’t, he wouldn’t sign anything for me. WAIT THIS COULD ACTUALLY HAPPEN!!! No…it wouldn’t. BUT IT COULD!!!” and my heart’s racing, but I can’t stop to think too much or I’ll miss my chance. I break through the crowd and join a line of arms with programs and notebooks and other things stretched out. Keith is right there. His shoulder is within grabbing distance. BUT NO!!! The world comes crashing down. He’s ready to move on. He’s turning away… his head is turning and his foot takes a half step towards the bus when my hand shoots out, seemingly of its own volition to thrust the program directly in his almost-line-of-sight and sort of shout, “EXCUSE ME!?” He glances at it (the way I shoved it at him forced him to) and maybe he glances at me too, or maybe I just hope that. He takes another half step. And then… and then…!! He half smirks and I see the Keith Harkin dimple as his head makes this nod and he practically rolls his eyes like, “Oh, fine! If I must sign another, you strange female creature.”
I stood unnaturally calm as he flipped through the program to choose the page he would autograph. Other fans had already opened their programs to the two pages in the book with his bio, but I was going too fast through the crowd to bother, and didn’t want to treat my program with anything less than gentleness! Therefore, he touched almost all the pages in my program before choosing his own page.
I dooo believe that an X generally stands for a kiss. And I got THREE from Keith Harkin! BE JEALOUS!!
Keith Harkin was my first. THE FIRST famous person ever to sign something for me. And he was turning away! AND I CAUGHT HIM! BWAHAHAHA!!!! I said, “Thank you so much!” in a surprisingly… not… way… ish… well… it was kind of a weird thing to say. Or maybe the way I said it was weird. But it was like I’d just asked him to… I don’t know!! It was weird! I felt weird! Like I owed him something; those five seconds of his life back or something! I immediately scooted out of the crowd as if looking at him any longer than I had was more than I deserved. I waited until I was a few feet behind the very back of the crowd before I jumped up and down and hugged the book and squealed. I didn’t even open it to look for a few minutes because I was afraid it wasn’t really there!
On the way home a stupid grin was glued to my face and mum was genuinely creeped at how I kept zoning out to replay the moment over and over in my head… his face… his dimple when he half-smiled… the fact that he put up with my arm thrusting a program at him whilst using my begging eyes. Which he probably didn’t see, but at least he stopped! I’m so happy!
The only thing that disappointed me out of the whole night was the fact that Ryan and Paul didn’t do That’s A Woman. Not that ‘disappointment’ is the most accurate word since I didn’t really expect them to sing my all time favorite song of theirs ever, but it would have been amazing to see it firsthand! It is my absolute favorite song that’s strictly Celtic Thunder. It was the song that brought me to the group if you don’t count word of mouth. That’s A Woman was the first YouTube video I saw of them and I watched it a dozen times in two weeks. I couldn’t believe how like a Broadway song it was, as if it had been taken right out of a favorite musical! I love it!
Is it not amazingness!?!
But really, it’s okay. After all, I have Keith Harkin’s autograph to console me.
*makes photocopies to cuddle*
P.S. I’m not really as disturbingly creepy as I sound. Slight exaggerations of asterisk actions may have been used in this post. Other than that, I am telling the truth.
DO YOU SEE!?!?! DO YOU SEE WITH YOUR EYES WHAT I MEAN ABOUT CHARISMA!??!