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CWazyTom
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« on: August 10, 2020, 09:23:16 PM »

I'm finally starting to watch the Celtic Thunder DVDs.

I started at the beginning with The Show (Part 1).

The DVD consists of 14 tracks and an interview as a bonus feature.

The show starts with some ominous lightning and thunder effects and narration reminiscent to Riverdance. For those that haven't seen Celtic Thunder before, it's similar in style to Celtic Woman in that it's a group of 5 different voices and personalities that manage to blend together quite well. Many of their group harmony numbers are excellent. Like Celtic Woman, their first DVD was filmed at the Helix in Dublin. Considering the group was founded by Sharon Browne (one of the co-founders of Celtic Woman), it's not surprising there are many similarities. In fact, I believe the group was originally going to be called Celtic Man, but they had to change it due to a copyright infringement claim.

The DVD was enjoyable overall.

The Celtic Thunder version of Ride On is VERY different from the Celtic Woman Destiny version. The Celtic Thunder version is more of a high energy rock number. My preference is the gorgeous Celtic Woman version, but the Celtic Thunder version was also really enjoyable.

During "Yesterday's Men" (George's first solo), they really overdid the base level. It was some of the strongest base sound I've ever heard on a DVD. It was pretty distracting. Even with the volume pretty low, I could feel it shaking my chair. It's a shame, because it's a great song. I prefer the CD version because of the imbalanced base on the DVD version. No obvious signs of permanent damage to my speakers or ears, so that's good.

Keith Harkin got some really good solos on the first DVD, including "The Mountains of Mourne" and "Lauren & I."

My favourite Celtic Thunder member Paul Byrom was amazing in both his solos and in all the group numbers he was a part of. The guy has an awesome voice.

Cal/Local Hero was a great instrumental number for which Phil Coulter (the musical director / composer ... basically the David Downes of Celtic Thunder) came on stage to conduct.

The big closing number for Part 1 of "The Show" was Caledonia. The song doesn't typically lend itself to being a big number, but Celtic Thunder makes it sound great as a finale song. The guys have some fun interaction on stage after the song. It's pretty funny.

The bonus material on the DVD consisted of an interview with all 5 original members of Celtic Thunder (Ryan, Paul, Keith, Goerge, and Damian). The interview was done on the top floor of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, by the looks of it. The audio quality wasn't the greatest, but it was a pretty entertaining interview.

Celtic Thunder has a tendency to split some of their DVDs (and CDs) into 2 parts that are released / purchased separately. It's a little annoying, but I suppose it's a profitable tactic. Next up this week will be their second DVD: The Show: Act 2.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2020, 09:11:50 PM by CWazyTom » Logged
CWazyTom
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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2020, 09:34:05 PM »

Celtic Thunder: Act 2 is the conclusion of the first Celtic Thunder concert at The Helix in Dublin.

The DVD starts off with a few songs I enjoy less than I enjoyed the tracks on the first DVD, but it doesn't take too long to get really good.

The Voyage is a REALLY nice duet with George and the young Damian. Damian is the lead in the song and his young voice really shone in this one. The bits of harmony are great and the lyrics are fantastic! There's a few phrases in there that really hit hard given the situation in which we currently find ourselves. I definitely recommend watching this one on YouTube or listening to the track.

Nights in White Satin is a well done Paul solo. George's solo, My Boy, is also very good. Keith's solos were decent as well, although I enjoyed his solos from the first DVD even more.

Steal Away is a ridiculously good group harmony number. This is probably in my top 5 list of favourite Celtic Thunder songs. The melody is nice and the harmony is incredible!

Ryan Kelly embraces the "bad boy" role more completely in this second DVD. In Heartbreaker, he gets flirtatious with a dancer and the cellist. Ryan and Paul go back and forth in a really entertaining theatrical-style performance of That's A Woman. Ryan's performance in this song has less emphasis on singing than it does on theatrics. The contrast between Paul's awesome voice and Ryan's bad boy act did make Ryan's character a bit annoying at times, I felt. But overall, it was a song that was both good an entertaining. I really liked Paul's parts in the song.

I wasn't that into Damian's solo on the second DVD, but I suppose most of the ladies went nuts over it.

The concert wraps up with Celtic Thunder's signature closing song: Ireland's Call! It's an amazing song. Each of their CDs / DVDs that covers the song (which is most of them) does a slight variation on it. This version is probably in the top half of the ones I've heard, but they're all excellent. You should definitely listen to at least one of their versions of Ireland's Call!

The bonus material is an interview with each of the principal cast members. Like the interview for the first DVD, this interview was recorded on the top floor of the Guinness Storehouse before the concert was actually recorded. In this DVD (in contrast to the first), each of the members are interviewed separately. The interviews are a bit more serious than they were on the first DVD when all the guys were together, but they each have moments of fun. It's a decent interview segment. You get to know each of the members, they backgrounds, some of their personal lives, etc.

More DVD writeups to come this weekend!
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CWazyTom
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« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2020, 09:47:52 PM »

Celtic Thunder: Take Me Home was filmed at Casino Rama in Ontario, Canada (it wasn't the only Celtic Thunder DVD filmed there either).

It features 29 tracks. There is a lot of overlap with tracks from the first 2 DVDs though (I counted 16 old, 13 new compared to the first 2 DVDs), so if you're on a budget, I'd suggest getting The Show and The Show: Act II. That aside, it's still a great DVD!

Having toured for a while by the time they recorded this DVD, the guys seemed more comfortable in their roles on stage than during the first concert.

Damian's grown up a bit since the first concert. As children grow, their voices often get deeper. It still sounds pretty good, but I do prefer his young, higher voice. He and George still did a really good job with "A Bird Without Wings." I do feel that songs worked even better with the contrast and purity of Damian's young voice. Definitely watch the version from "The Show" (Part 1). That one's amazing!

Damian also covered 2 Neil Sedaka songs (Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen and Breaking Up Is Hard To Do). Both were an homage to 60s style and both he and his backup singers had giant novelty period microphones.

George's "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" was lots of fun as well.

All of Paul Byrom's solos again were really good, but solo highlight for me was "You Raise Me Up." It might be the best solo version I've ever heard!

There were some extremely good group numbers on this DVD. Caledonia and Ireland's Call were fantastic and I enjoyed Ireland's Call in this DVD even more than on "The Show: Act II." Steal Away was really good, but it was a different arrangement than the first one with more instrumental backing and I preferred the arrangement from "The Show," which was extremely good.

Their group harmony version of Danny Boy is amazing (like, Celtic Woman amazing). 10/10 for sure! It's an absolute must to listen to Danny Boy from this DVD!

There were a few entertaining instrumental numbers, featuring the band, including "Belfast Polka/Pennsylvania Railroad" and "Appalachian Round Up."

Some of the camera work and/or directing was a little suspect at times. There were a number of times the cameras didn't have the guys framed correctly on stage, the camera was still in the process of zooming in or out when they cut to it, and sometimes they were even pointing in the wrong place at the wrong time. It wasn't dreadful, but it was noticeable on several occasions.

There's was no special feature on this DVD.

In spite of all the track overlap and the length (29 tracks is quite a bit), it didn't seem to drag at any point. Overall, I really enjoyed this one!
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« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2020, 10:50:34 PM »

It's Entertainment was quite different from the previous DVDs. Most of Celtic Thunder's DVDs are performed like concerts, with some theatrics within some of the songs. It's Entertainment was their first "theatrical DVD" they released, in that it was more like a musical theatre production than a regular concert.

The stage was really wide, which gave them a lot of space to set up an elaborate, expansive set. The stage was set up like fancy garden party, with a patio, a garden path, benches, and even a prop water fountain.

The show and the music was mostly an homage to American pop culture, with classic and contemporary pop songs making up most of the set list. It was an entertaining production, although I personally preferred the concert-style DVDs. Most of the songs were fun, but aren't the kind of song that would blow me away. It did have a more consistent / higher energy level though, so if you're not a fan of the slower songs, you might prefer this DVD.

Neil Byrne joined the cast for this DVD, although I don't think he actually got a solo.

George's "I'm Gonna Be" (500 Miles) was really enjoyable again.

Paul Byrom did another epic version of You Raise Me Up. The amount of enthusiasm that he puts into the finale of the song is really impressive. Definitely watch this one!

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For was a well-done group number.

This DVD had one of my favourite rousing versions of "Ireland's Call." Since the first concert, they had strengthened the deep tones and it gave the song some extra oomph.

Lough Swilly Railway (the instrumental number) was really fun! It might be my favourite Celtic Thunder band/dancer showcase piece.

Side-note: I thought it would be interesting to have Celtic Woman do a more theatrical DVD. It might turn off some of their base, but if they're ever going to do it, Tara's the right person to have in the group to pull it off.

Another side-note: I saw one of the personalities for my local PBS station in the audience.

The bonus feature on the DVD was a 30+ minute "story So far." It consisted of artist interviews and behind the scenes footage, including some audition footage for each of the principal performers. Once again, it was really challenging to understand Damian (I'm not accustomed enough to the accent yet, I guess). Unlike the Celtic Woman "journey so far" documentary feature, the CT feature wasn't really told as a contiguous story or recap. It was more like separate personal stories. The guys were given a tour of the estate where they filmed the interviews and parts of that tour were included in the documentary. I suppose the set for the show may have been based on or inspired by on the estate grounds, I'm not sure.

I mentioned earlier that It's Entertainment it was the first theatrical DVD they released. It's my understanding that Storm (which I'll write about later) was recorded in 2009, prior to It's Entertainment (2010). Evidence of that can be seen in the documentary bonus feature on It's Entertainment (there are some clips and references to Storm). However, Storm wasn't actually released until 2011.

Overall a fun DVD. I think I preferred the set lists of the first 3 DVDs, but this DVD definitely had it's good moments too.

Celtic Thunder has really grown on me over the past few years. They aren't the life-changing act that Celtic Woman has been for me, but they don't have to be. They're fun to listen to. They've each got their own characters on stage, they each have their own styles, and their harmony is really good!

As Phil Coulter put it at the end of the concert: "long may the thunder roll!"
« Last Edit: August 16, 2020, 10:54:09 PM by CWazyTom » Logged
CWazyTom
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« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2020, 10:01:46 PM »

Celtic Thunder: Heritage (2011) was a really good DVD!

The stage design was the simplest of all their DVDs I've seen so far. It was basically an elevated section in the middle, decorated to look like a stone hill and a stone bench off to the side decorated with triskele symbols (ie. CaraNua symbols). The backlighting was pretty nice. It looked fine, just less elaborate than a lot of their other sets.

There are lots of good solos on this DVD. "The Dutchman" is one of my favourite Keith Harkin songs. Neil's "Noreen" is really nice! George does a good job with "Skye Boat Song," but now that I've heard Ella Roberts sing that song (and thus been spoiled out of my mind), it's hard for any version to live up to her standard. Paul's solo, "My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose" is amazing! That's one you'll want to listen to on YouTube at least.

Damian's solo, Buachaill ón Éirne, was well done. I prefer the one he does in "The Show" but of all the subsequent versions I've heard, this is my favourite. He had some good roles in the duets and group numbers too. Damian's voice was a little deeper on this DVD and in my opinion, this DVD featured the best use of his voice since "The Show." There weren't any of the "teenage heartthrob" type songs he's typically given.

There are also some good duets on this DVD, including Just A Song At Twilight (Paul + Damian) Gold & Silver Days (Ryan + George), and a voice and country/rock version of Whiskey In The Jar by Keith and Neill both singing and playing guitar.

The band-showcase number, "Belfast Polka," was really fun!

Neil spent most of the time playing guitar (and various similar instruments) as a member of the band, although he did join the rest of the singers on stage for some songs.

The highlight as always was the group harmonies. Home from the Sea is a great ballad featuring all the guys. A Place In the Choir was also fun! Steal Away was performed with the "Take Me Home" arrangement: good, but the version from "The Show" was really special. Their performance of Ireland's Call is always so good it's hard to decide whether to sing along or just listen in amazement

The Bonus Feature on this DVD was basically a slideshow to the tune of "A Place In The Choir." Some photos are stills from the DVD and some are probably from rehearsal / soundcheck prior to the DVD recording. It's alright.

Overall, this is one of my favourite Celtic Thunder DVDs so far. I liked pretty much ever song in the set list and it had a great mix of solos, duets, and group numbers. It's shorter than some of the other DVDs, but every song is good or better! If you're planning to get any of the DVDs, this is one to have on your list!
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« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2020, 10:22:21 PM »

This is the one most of you may have been waiting for...

Celtic Thunder: Storm was the most unique of the Celtic Thunder DVDs. It was essentially a musical (full theatrical production) instead of a concert. It's also the only Celtic Thunder DVD I've seen that hasn't featured Ireland's Call. Most importantly, it was the only original Celtic Thunder DVD to feature Deirdre Shannon (former Celtic Woman)!

I liked the IMDB synopsis of the production:

Storm delves into a different aspect of the Celtic past, the struggle for land, security and acceptance. The magnitude of the show's set combined with the creative musical arrangements and engaging choreography make for a very compelling experience.

Storm certainly had the most elaborate set and choreography. It was set mostly in a village (with a Romani / gypsie camp off to the side). It was recorded at the same theatre as "It's Entertainment" (Toronto International Centre Hall 5, a.k.a. Arrow Hall). Some parts of the set (ie. the bridge over the stream) were actually used in both DVDs! Those two DVDs were recorded pretty much concurrently, they were just released separately.

Each of the principal performers plays their usual on-stage persona (Ryan's the bad guy, George is the virtuous father figure, Damian the young lad, Paul the romantic, etc).

The DVD starts with an instrumental, Storm Overture, which I'll nickname "Gypsy Combat Training" for reasons that might make sense once you've watched it. I wasn't the biggest fan of that opening number, but it got really good from there! Almost all the songs that followed were good (except for maybe Shadows Dancing).

Deirdre performs solos in "The Highwayman" and "Harry's Game." She also performs a good duet with Paul in "Tender Is The Night." Her parts are good, although her amazing voice is capable of more than she gets to show off in the DVD.

This is another DVD where Neil Byrne kind of takes a back seat roll. He has a few spotlight moments, but all the other principal performers played more significant roles.

Usually the group numbers are the highlight of a Celtic Thunder DVD or album, but in Storm, the emphasis was flipped and it was the solos and some duets that were exceedingly enjoyable to listen to.

George's "Life in the Old Dog Yet" and "This Was My Life" were both fantastic and the latter in particular packs quite a hefty emotional punch. Those that have followed Celtic Thunder will probably understand why.

Damian's solo, "When You Are 18" is good and his duet of "Look At Me" with Keith Harkin was entertaining too.

Paul's solos are always amazing and his performances on this DVD were no exception. Paul was excellent in "Tender Is The Night" (with Deirdre). He also did a nice job with "Not the One," a song based on the melody of Phil Coulter's "Remember Me (Recuerdame)."

My favourite group number was "Lagan Love." The arrangement and the harmony were great!

There were 3 short bonus features on the DVD: a slideshow from the Storm DVD recording, a 30 second TV spot for Storm, and a 20 second TV spot for Storm (a slightly condensed version of the other TV spot). The slideshow is backed by Deirdre's solo of Harry's Game. The bonus features were cool, but nothing astonishing.

Overall, this was a fun DVD to watch. It was quite different experience and it had Deidre! Celtic Woman fans should consider getting this DVD not because of her presence, but because it's a great show! This isn't necessarily the best DVD to get introduced to the group because the format is so different from their other shows, but if you watch it and it gets you hooked, I suppose you can enjoy all the other DVDs afterwards!

That's my last Celtic Thunder DVD writeup for at least a few months. Hopefully so far you've found them interesting or helpful (and hopefully I haven't offended too many die-hard Thunderheads with my ignorance in the process).

Long may the thunder roll!
« Last Edit: August 21, 2020, 10:27:22 PM by CWazyTom » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2020, 10:15:59 PM »

The regular Celtic Thunder: Mythology DVD apparently contains 12 tracks and "The Making of Mythology" documentary. I have The Celtic Thunder: Mythology Deluxe DVD set and it's pretty epic. There are 2 DVDs:
1. A 31-track concert DVD (yeah ... 31 tracks!!!)
2. A separate documentary DVD that contains not one but two hour-long documentary features:
* "My Land"
* The Making of Mythology

Concert DVD:

The set design was pretty cool. The stage itself was in the shape of a giant Celtic cross. There were some stone-shaped props behind the stage that served at times as projector screens. Behind the stones was a huge backdrop screen that featured various lighting and atmospheric effects.

There were 4 Brendan Graham songs:
- "Voices" is the opening song of the DVD. It's a minor key song that has a certain intensity. It's alright and it has a pretty spectacular ending, but it's not the cathiest tune.
- "Always There" is a song he wrote (lyrics) for Secret Garden. The tune was composed by Rolf Lovland. Emmet Cahill This song is gorgeous. Perhaps Celtic Woman will perform it some day.
- "Rock N Roll Kids" was performed as a nice duet by Ryan and Neil
- "My Land"

Ryan had some great solos in this concert. It's pretty hard to compete with raw beauty of Orla's voice, but Ryan's take on "Carrickfergus" was well performed. He delivered some emotional depth. He did well with "The House of the Rising Sun" too. "Hunter's Moon" is perfect for his style and dark on-stage character. It's quite possibly my all-time favourite Ryan Kelly solo.

On the track "Katie," Colm Keegan both sang and played piano. He has prehaps the perfect voice for this song and arrangement. It was only on the Deluxe DVD, but it was really good!

My favourite George solo on the DVD was "Life With You." He brought the energy and even busted out some fancy choreography in this song! This is another track that was only on the deluxe edition.

Keith Harkin's "Tears of Hercules" (aka My Heart Was Home Again) was great. He got to show off a lot different guitars in this concert. "Now We Are Free" (Gladiator) was well done too. The guy is an extremely talented performer.

If you pay close attention during "Now We Are Free," you might spot Carl McGuire. ;)

Keith and Colm both sang and played guitar on their duet of "The Sound of Silence," which was excellent.

The way Celtic Thunder performs Seven Drunken Nights is hilarious!

The whistles and flutes seemed to play a far more prevalent role in this production. It gave the show a more traditional Celtic flare and I appreciated.

The Celtic Thunder arrangement of My Land is really good. They typically end the show on a much bigger numer, like Ireland's Call. Using My Land for a softer ending was definitely different.


Documentary DVD:

In the "My Land" documentary, the lads take us on a tour of Ireland and into the past, to the places they grew up.

"The Making of Mythology" is a really good behind the scenes documentary of the DVD. It covered planning, rehearsals, stage setup, and post-production. There was some technical content that I haven't heard covered in a "making of" documentary before and it was quite fascinating. Carl Maguire and Synan both got some air time.


Overall:

This deluxe DVD was a little polarizing. There were so many tracks, it ended up being a little too long and there were a few I didn't enjoy as much that wouldn't have made the cut on a shorter DVD. There were a bunch of very good tracks too though and some of those didn't make the regular DVD. The regular version of the DVD has most of the good tracks, but "Katie" and "Life With You" were two of my favourites and they were only on the deluxe version. "The Making of Mythology" is a fantastic documentary and it's on both the regular and deluxe versions of the DVD.

It's good, but if you're starting your collection, I'd start with "Storm" (featuring Deirdre Shannon) and "Heritage," followed by the very first two Celtic Thunder DVDs.

More writeups to come in a few more months. Long may the thunder roll!
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« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2021, 09:45:08 PM »

Celtic Thunder: Legacy was released in 2016 and comes in 2 parts. It was recorded at Casino Rama in Ontario, like many of their other DVDs.

Heartland is a pretty epic, percussive opener. Keith Harkin's "Mountains of Mourne" and "The Dutchman" are excellent solos. Neil Byrne's "Noreen" is really beautiful. Ryan Kelly's rock version of "Ride On" has lots of energy.

During one of the tracks, all the lads were both singing and playing instruments. Raggle Taggle Gypsy had a fun drum duel.

In Volume 2, there was a nice tribute to George Donaldson ("Life With You").

I can't get enough of "Seven Drunken Nights." The song and the hilarious way they act it out on stage is very entertaining.

The 6 part harmony is incredible. It's a strong, full sound without any need for choir backing. "Caledonia," "Song for the Mira", "Take Me Home" were awesome and "Ireland's Call" sounded as good as ever!

Celtic Thunder: Legacy is a great collection-starter and it was the Legacy PBS special that got me interested in Celtic Thunder. Legacy includes new performances of many of their best songs. Both volume 1 and 2 are fantastic, although I preferred volume 1. "Heritage" is also a great DVD to start your Celtic Thunder journey. The "Storm" DVD is another good introduction to Celtic Thunder, since it includes Deirdre Shannon and some great music.

Track List: Legacy: Volume 1:

01 Heartland
02 Danny Boy
03 Galway Girl
04 Mountains Of Mourne
05 Ride On
06 Buachallie On Eirne
07 Raggle Taggle Gypsy
08 Black Velvet Band
09 The Dutchman
10 Falling Slowly
11 A Place In The Choir
12 Noreen
13 Caledonia
14 Cal/Local Hero
15 Ireland’S Call

Track List: Legacy: Volume 2

01 Now We Are Free
02 Home
03 Song For Mira
04 Isle Of Inisfree
05 Heartbreaker
06 Lauren & I
07 Take Me Home
08 Katie
09 Hallelujah
10 Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
11 That’s A Woman
12 Remember Me, Recurdame
13 Life With You
14 Seven Drunken Nights
15 Streets Of New York
16 Mo Ghile Mear
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