Friday evening, The Chicago Theater presented Celtic Thunder’s Mythology concert to an enthusiastic fan base.Opening with “Voices” the group proved why their act has not only stood the test of time, but should remain a consistent musical stalwart for year’s to come.
After the musician’s unpretentiously took the stage without fanfare, George, Emmet, Ryan, Keith, Colm and Neil, made their dramatic entrance in style with their classic angular pose, essentially standing shoulder to shoulder before their adoring audience.
One aspect of Celtic Thunder that deserves more attention is their exciting choreography. There’s not a musical group anywhere on the planet that comprehends the impact of how the singers and musicians entrances and exits from the big stage can affect an audience like Celtic Thunder.
These subtle moves clearly make an impression on their loyal fans as evidenced by there
reactions to George and the lads, each time they entered or left the stage. Friday’s show was no exception: It was obvious that each member of the audience was “all-in” hook, line and sinker, cheering their every move.
While, to a person, their stage presence was unquestionably exciting, their vocals were off the charts this night. Keith Harkin was the Dark Horse in terms of stage presence: While George and company were all beyond exceptional vocally, Keith Harkin dominated the stage Friday evening.
Interestingly, he came off as the leader of the group, establishing a tremendous rapport with the audience early on. He also showed incredible vocal versatility, deploying sort of a folksy ability to connect with the entire auditorium. Musically, he was able to combine, rock (he’s clearly the group’s resident rocker), folk, and even a sort of Irish country style, almost reminiscent of Keith Urban.
While Emmet, Ryan, Colm, Neil and George were absolutely on their game, Keith essentially was the MVP Friday night. Stay tuned and keep a close eye on Harkin as I believe he is destined for a big-time solo career that will be chart topping.
Ryan was his usual, charismatic self both vocally and while displaying his confidence on stage-high energy and comfortable before the large Chicago Theater audience-a true crowd pleaser.
No one can sing a heartfelt ballad better than Emmet Cahill who did not disappoint on the Irish classic Danny Boy. Taking it one step further, I believe Emmet’s version is the best I’ve ever heard and interestingly enough, as great as Emmet sounds digitally and on cd, it was a real treat to both hear and see him live. In fact, Emmet and the rest of the singer’s actually sounded even better live than on record, if due only to the subtle nuances and (cool) imperfections that can only be caught during a live concert.
Crowd pleasers included: Ryan’s version of “House of The Rising Sun,” an even more rocked up version of “The Boys Are Back In Town,” and particularly “7 Drunken Nights”, that was an audience sing along.
Musically, my personal favorites included: “Turning Away,” an amazing version of “The Sound of Silence” & the beautiful “The Edge of The Moon.”
While the encore was quite satisfying, it was noted that “Red Rose Café” and “Galway Girl” would have added a nice touch to the finale.’ However, that being said, “My Land” couldn’t have been a better choice to close the show. Every patron stood “shoulder to shoulder” to savor and soak in the majestic performance of the song.
Some of the other highlights included fun, good-natured banter between George and the Lads and several funny moments between Colm, Neil and the rest of the group. It’s abundantly clear that the band is not simply going through the motions but genuinely like one another. The manner in which they poked fun at one another added yet another cool dimension to the concert, keeping it fresh and interesting-never a dull moment.
Neil and Colm underscored their vocal prowess with their versatility and great harmonies, in addition to their solo opportunities. Vocally, there wasn’t a weak link in the group and each singer proved why they could command the stage in a moment’s notice. The true essence of Celtic Thunder, however, is the undeniable teamwork that’s essential to their success.
There is no question that George Donaldson is the “glue” who brings the music full circle: While it’s true that George is the elder statesman of the group, his wealth of experience and classic folk sound are Hall of Fame worthy qualities that set him apart from any other singer anywhere in the world. Celtic
Thunder is lucky to have George on the roster and while George could not be more humble or genuinely appreciative of his opportunities over the last several year’s, he is yet another singer who could easily tour solo in his own right-period, end of story.
Without George, there is no Celtic Thunder. While previous singers and have come and gone, George is a must-have and is essential to their CORE sound.
Rounding out the remainder of their sound were musicians like their great keyboard player, David Munro, Declan O’Donoghue on drums and percussion, Dave Bakey on guitar, and a true virtuoso on pipes and many other instruments, Kieran Brady!
Quite frankly, Kieran quietly stole the show on numerous occasions. The latest musical addition to Celtic Thunder, I would award Kieran the MVP of Friday’s concert with his seemingly endless, blue chip quality playing on so many instruments, a great addition to the band!
I’d be remiss if I left Nicole Hudson, Seana Davey and Laura Durrant out of the mix, not only for their stellar musicianship, but incredible stage presence as well. Kudos to Laura for her excellent backup and group vocals on several of the bands songs Friday evening.
The entire franchise that is Celtic Thunder should be honored for their tireless efforts in bringing this life-changing Super-Group to Chicago where they were welcomed with open arms.
More information on Celtic Thunder Website
Photos: Courtesy of Celtic Thunder