Review and photos by Craig Newman
The all-female vocal ensemble that performs a mix of Celtic, new age, and adult contemporary music returned to the venue since The Songs Of The Heart tour. This tour features new member Tara McNeill on violin and harp replacing the last original member Máiréad Nesbitt. The current singers: Susan McFadden, and Éabha McMahon who joined the group for their 10th Anniversary tour.
With over 10 million albums and 3 million tickets sold worldwide. Over the years the show has been developing the performances since it originally to be a one-night performance at the Helix Theater in Dublin, Ireland and broadcast on PBS to amazing reviews. Since then the group with various lineup changes for the singers, the band and choir have been none stop performing about 11 months a year. But one of the noticeable changes is to have more interaction with the audience as they did with Emerald tour did depend on the venues where the ladies who either sit on a member of the audience, have the bagpiper walk down the aisle and one or two of the dancers in the aisles. The ladies change dresses for different songs while without stopping the show while the music still being played.
The group brought the charm and music of the Irish to Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza on May 27, 2017. Of the 23 songs performed and with 15-minute intermission included a sample of what the people of Ireland do at pubs (public house) performing trad (traditional Irish songs) featuring the band and choir playing guitar, Bodhran, and whistle or flute and Irish dancing.
The ladies move on stage more with hand/arms expressions. The songs performed are the group’s standards but rearranged to keep them fresh such as the show opener “Mo Ghile Mear (My Gallant Star)”, “Danny Boy”, “Dúlman” sung by Mairead with Choir members playing the bodhráins (Irish Drum). New songs also performed from the album are “She Moved Through the Fair” which is arraigned to have heavier sound sung by Susan McFadden who also dances slowly with one of the choir members. “Walk Beside Me”, “For The Love of The Princess” from the movie Braveheart performed by Tara with the orchestration music is played through the PA system. Mairead sings “Ava Maria” which lets her vocal range shine and as your hair on your neck stand up. “The Voice” sung by Susan also give her power vocals to this song. Éabha sings “Sean Nos” a traditional Irish/Gaelic song in that language. Bagpiper Anthony Byrne has been with the group since 2010 for the start and finish of “Amazing Grace”.
The band for this tour is Ray Fean (original member)- Percussion, Catriona Frost-Percussion, Tommy Buckley-Guitar-, Darragh Murphy-Bagpipes, Uilleann pipes and whistle, Brian Hughes-Piano, keyboards, and flute. The choir for this tour the all-male choir is Ronan, Scolard, Glenn Murphy, Carl Maguire, and Alan McGrath.
This show is one of their best from hearing from some the audience when leaving the venue. While there is another DVD planned for this album. The next for the group is to record new songs for the next album. As there is no stopping this group, music, and performances with the opportunities it provides for these artists to be part of the Celtic Woman family.