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Author Topic: Celtic Spells show  (Read 240 times)
CWazyTom
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« on: March 18, 2024, 09:40:01 PM »

I got to see 2 of Máiréad Nesbitt's Celtic Spells show in California!

Before the first show, it got kind of chilly outside. Fortunately, they opened the doors a few minutes early because it started pouring unexpectedly outside a few minutes later. The venue was smaller than one that Celtic Woman would perform in, but larger than a venue Chloë would typically perform in. I had front row and the stage was below eye level. There was an array of speakers on top of the stage that impeded view a little (mostly of the footwork of the dancers). The performers were at least 20 feet from the front of the stage as well.

In the band, they had a keyboard, guitar, drums, and the usual assortment of Irish instruments, including the harp, bohdran, whistles, and uillean pipes. They were spread out wide across the stage. There was a video screen at the back, showing scenes of Ireland throughout the show to help set the mood. Dancers came out onto the stage every few songs. There were also a couple of singers.

Máiréad was on stage for most of the show, sometimes off to the side, sometimes center stage.

Between Máiréad, the band, the singers, the dancers, and the video screen, there was a lot to take in at once.

The music worked really well live, with some of the tunes sounding even better than they did on the album. The drum arrangements were engaging and the percussive tapdancing during Dance of Destiny was epic!

Máiréad tossed in There Is No Night, the gorgeous slow air from Raining Up and Hibernia. It's overwhelmingly beautiful and it had me mopping my face in appreciation.

I wasn't too high on the vocal arrangements, which didn't achieve much harmonic synergy between the singers. That said, The Ballad of the Perfect Storm was incredible live. Máiréad played tin whistle during that song. The melody is captivating and the lyrics, as those who listened to the album will know, are phenomenal. It's soooo good and the percussion in the live show made it even more amazing.

Most of the tunes in the set list were from the album, slightly re-ordered, with a few additions including what was possibly my favourite arrangement of Shenandoah.

The show closed with a variation of the David Downes Paring Glass, concluding each verse and chorus on a major chord instead of a dreary minor chord.

The second show was in a theatre on a high school campus. It was surprisingly large. It probably had a capacity of a few thousand people. Infortunately it wasn't filled up. When introducing the show, they pronounced Máiréad something like Merida or Meridith.

The crowd the first night was pretty good. The audience was engaged in the show and clapping along enthusiastically when appropriate. The crowd for the second show was quite a bit more reserved, preferring to sit and enjoy the production, rather than participate in the energy.

The show has a story to it, but I'm not sure how easy it would have been someone to follow who didn't know the story or song titles in advance, even with the video screen. For instance, Star Crossed Lovers was performed with a starscape on the screen. It was pretty, but unless you knew the tune was called Star Crossed Lovers, it wouldn't have meant much beyond looking and sounding nice. It was pretty clear early in the show that the two dancers were lovers getting married and Máiréad did a pre-recorded voiceover explaining that they were from different backgrounds and that their union was forbidden (to elaborate, the story took place in the early 1900s, starring a protestant from the north and a catholic from the south, and their families disapproved of their union, so they married in secret and left for America). I'm a bit worried that the average audience member would just think they were listening to separate stories, or just random songs and tunes, albeit very good ones.

Overall, the show was highly enjoyable and worth the lengthy flights.

Speaking of flights, I'm not sure how much it was on the news outside of California, but the traffic at LAX the day I returned home was horrendous. I made unexpectedly good time from Glendora to LA. It only took about an hour to get to the rental car return lot. Things went downhill from there. The trip from the lot to the airport was only a few miles, but traffic was crawling the entire way due to poorly planned lane closures. They closed 4 out of 5 lanes in multiple places. It took over 90 minutes just to get off near the start of the terminal, over 2 hours in total on the bus. On the way, I started seeing people with their suitcases walking towards the airport at the side of the road (some between cars). There were people on an overpass that got out of their cars to take photos because traffic was dead stopped on the highway too. Closer to the terminal, there were streams of people hurrying frantically on foot with their luggage. I've never seen anything like it.

There are about 6 or 7 terminals arranged in a huge multi-mile horseshoe. Mine was #6. I ended up getting off the bus around terminal 2 and booked it on foot, because if I had stayed on the bus in that nightmare, there was 0% chance I was making my scheduled departure time. Thankfully security was quick (probably because nobody could actually get to the airport). I got to the gate mid-way through boarding around 10-15 minutes before they were going to close the gate. They completely boarded the flight, then we sat around on board, eventually being notified that the flight crew was also stuck in traffic and hadn't arrived yet. We took off around an hour and a half late. It was a very long beerless St. Patrick's Day, but certainly worth the trip.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2024, 11:39:02 PM by CWazyTom » Logged
LakersCeltics
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« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2024, 08:32:26 PM »

I had thought about going to one of the shows. But we had prior appointments.  >:(

I appreciate the review. I didn't know it was about a Catholic & a Protestant! A pastor at my church has all kind of Catholic / Protestant stories from Ireland. He is from Co. Tipperary (same as Mairead I think).

I will have to listen to the CD again, and read all the notes again.

Thanks for the report.

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CWazyTom
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« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2024, 08:57:50 PM »

It was a little disguised in the brief voiceover segment during the show, where it was described something to the effect of "people from two different backgrounds whose love was forbidden." The show description in the booklet for the first show elaborated a little.
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