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Author Topic: My Ancient Land Tour Experience  (Read 392 times)
CWazyTom
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« on: March 29, 2019, 11:59:52 PM »

--- SPOILER WARNING ---

A word of warning: this write-up is intended mainly for people that won't get to see this tour or have already seen at least one show on the Ancient Land tour. If you read this (particularly the middle section) before going to a show, it's going to spoil a LOT of amazing surprises for you.

--- SPOILER WARNING ---



Journey:

This was my first trip to Rochester. I trusted the GPS. It got me there, but it was an adventure. The GPS started acting up around Buffalo again (it's really uncooperative in that place for some reason), but it only got me off track once. It also took me along a back road instead of the main highway. I didn't have toll avoidance turned on, although the GPS's route choice had that unintended benefit.

Unfortunately, the route choice also cost me a lot of time. It got me on a "highway" (more like a hybrid of a city and county road). There were a lot of stop lights and stop signs, which wasn't great for fuel efficiency or pace. Because I got out of work an hour late, I encountered a stream of school buses in both directions and I had to stop frequently for them. I got behind a line of slow moving trucks a few times that were difficult to pass. I even got stuck behind a garbage truck for a while.

The combination of getting out of work late, the route, a hotel in Brockport (there wasn't anything I considered viable in Rochester at the time I looked), and an unexpected meal stop (I got on the road before eating anything after work) ate up all my buffer time. What should have been a 3-3.5 hour drive turned into about 5.5 after stops and hotel check-in.

I ended up getting to the venue about 15 minutes after the scheduled time to arrive for the Meet and Greet. Given that most of the M+Gs have been starting about 10 minutes before show time recently, I figured I still had plenty of time to spare. However, this M+G started unusually early, so I got into the venue less than 10 minutes before the M+G started. Way too close!

The next two shows are going to be tight for time as well, unfortunately.


Pre-Show:

For the first time, security actually confiscated my gifts at the entrance and advised they would take them to the Celtic Woman tour staff. Apparently this practice is normal at this venue.

There wasn't much time between my arrival and the start of the Meet and Greet, but I got to say 'hi' to a few familiar faces and some forum friends I haven't met in person before. I was definitely the Celtic Woman lightweight in the group, with between 300-400 attended Celtic Woman concerts among the group of us.

I handed out a few of the forum buttons. More on that later.

Before the show, we were advised by the ushers that there were no photos allowed during the show at all, even though that wasn't formally announced over the PA system before the show. Some people abused it. I chose to respect it and just enjoy my first show of the tour without worrying about tinkering with the unfamiliar camera app on a new phone.


Meet and Greet:

We were directed from the lobby into a hallway where the Meet and Greet took place. There was an Ancient Land backdrop set up along one of the walls of the hallway. I suppose there were around 20 of us. Perhaps a bit less.

Prior to the Meet and Greet we were told by event staff (not by Sett) that there was to be no hugging the girls or putting our arms around them during the photo. The reasoning provided was to prevent the girls from getting sick. While I'm all for keeping our girls healty, it didn't make a lot of sense to approve of people shaking hands with the girls but not hugging them. If anything that was possibly less sanitary.

That restriction would have really sucked if, like previous years, I was only doing one Meet and Greet. Fortunately for me, I'll have 3 more chances to hug them at other Meet and Greets this tour.

The people ahead of me rushed through it pretty quick. Quick handshakes and photo. Not much talking. I was grateful for the extra time and for the first time since my first M+G with Celtic Woman, I didn't feel overly rushed.

The order of the girls at this Meet and Greet was Eabha, Mairead, Megan, and Tara. It started out smoothly for me. My well-rehearsed statements were delivered sufficiently well and I felt they were reasonably well received too. I told Eabha how much I loved Garden of Eden and the whole album. I told Mairead and Eabha this was going to be my 10th time seeing them live. They low-fived each other in adorable fashion. When I got to Megan, I don't know what I started saying, but it wasn't what I had planned. It through me off big time. Having already forgotten what I was going to say twice with Tara, I just threw a frustrated look over at Mairead and Eabha and without a word, communicated "are you kidding me, this is happening again with the new girl?" They both told me it was ok. That helped get me back on track. I ultimately told Megan how special a performer I thought she was and she seemed flattered. Then, for the first time, I was actually able to stand in front of Tara and talk without being completely overwhelmed by her beauty and adorable presence. I normally give Tara a bonus hug, but ... no hugging rule this time.

Overall, I probably had a minute or so with the girls. A few hundred dollars well spent!



--- SPOILERS BELOW ---


The Stage:

This was definitely my favorite stage of any Celtic Woman show I've been to! The design evoked treasured memories from Johnstown Castle with the short staircase descending to a circular stage with two flanking ramps. There was even a big triskele in the center of the stage, just like the DVD recording. The stage had several levels and was decorated with panels that resembled the stone wall of a castle. At the back of the stage, there were several tall drapes. Between the drapes was a screen on which video was played to compliment the music. It was a hybrid of the design used in Destiny (a completely exposed, minimally decorated video panel) and Homecoming (which was a video screen fully covered by translucent drapes).

I thought the Homecoming set looked slightly more elegant at the back of the stage, but overall, I enjoyed the Ancient Land set the most.



Set List:

Act 1:

Ancient Land
Homeland
Moorlough Shore
Newgrange
Follow Me
Sive
Fields of Gold
Love and Honour
Amazing Grace
Enchanted Way
Danny Boy
Ballroom of Romance

Act 2:

Long Journey Home
Shenandoah
Mná na hÉireann
Orinoco Flow
Siúil A Rún
Ae Fond Kiss
Tip, Tap, Toe
Garden of Eden
Over the Rainbow
Tara's Tunes
Bean Pháidín
Going Home
Kesh Inn
The Parting Glass


The Show:

Right from the start of the show there were surprises!

The show started with a different instrumental lead-in to the Ancient Land song. Then, the male choir members on stage singing Ancient Land instead of the girls! The girls emerged onto the stage part way through the song. The change made it fresh for the tour and it worked well.

It didn't take long to notice the audio quality in the theater was even better than the audio quality at the castle. The audio at the castle was good, but the base was reportedly much better on the opposite side of the stage to where I sat both nights.

Some parts of the harmony in Homeland were slightly different than at the DVD recording.

Eabha's introduction before Moorlough Shore was really good. It was a nice story about her grandmother's long lost love that had an element of humor at the end as well. I've heard the story previously, but most of the audience would probably have been hearing it for the first time. Eabha's delivery was great! The song itself was pretty similar to the Ancient Land DVD, with Tara playing harp and Eabah both singing and playing the tin whistle.

The next solo was a brand new version of Newgrange, performed by Mairead. She apparently was closely involved in arranging the song as well. This was a jaw dropper! It kind of reminded me of the title song from Phantom of the Opera (where Christine's voice became possessed and seemed to have unlimited range). Mairead went into opera mode, but it wasn't just her range and power that impressed me. The melody was really intriguing and her voice was dancing gracefully all over the place. It almost had a middle-eastern vibe to it and there were parts of that song that were overwhelmingly amazing!

We were treated to a new arrangement of Fields of Gold, performed as a solo by Megan, accompanied by piano. She did a really good job with this and it's definitely my favorite version!

The new piper John Hunt was well received by the audience during Amazing Grace. Rather than emerge from some crazy location in a balcony or something, he spent the song on the stage. He did a great job and the crowd was quite receptive.

Ballroom of Romance was a fantastic way to end the first act! It's such and energetic song! It's my all-time favorite 'ceili' song at the moment.

Act 2 opened with another of my all-time favorite Celtic Woman songs: Long Journey Home. Like Homeland, there were some slight adjustments to the harmony for the tour version. I love everything about this song, including the lyrics, the melody, the powerful instrumental bridge, and the brilliant use of harmony.

The introduction before Mná na hÉireann was amazing! The girls, particularly Tara, talked about how the Women of Ireland were kind, strong, beautiful, and talented. Tara said she hoped they represented all those qualities they aspire to. "You do, girl," I whispered. "You do." <3

The amazing song intros just kept coming! Next up was Mairead with Ae Fond Kiss. She talked about the story behind the song. It was written by Robbie Burns about a girl he fell in love with one night but would never meet again. Her telling this story honestly brought my appreciation for this song to a different level for me. She sang with a lot of feeling.

Orinoco Flow brought us another surprise arrangement. Like the other re-arranged songs from this tour, this version of Orinoco Flow is now my favorite.

Siúil A Rún had an exceptionally well-done song introduction, this time by Tara, who talked about how special it was to be performing the music she loved together with her best friends. These introductions were very well written and the expressive way Tara delivered it almost had me in tears before the song evern started.

Tip, Tap, Toe was a really fun number by the band and dancers.

What more can I say about Garden of Eden other than I absolutely love it: the lyrics, the melody, the arrangement ... everything! I'm so glad Eabha got to perform her song on this tour!

If you haven't heard Megan and Mairead perform Over the Rainbow, prepare to have your breath taken from you. That ending... WOW!

Bean Pháidín featured another fresh arrangement and a really fun one! I've mentioned it a few times already, but every song they re-arranged on this tour is legitimately my all-time favorite version. This tour is so good!

The girls came back out on stage for The Kesh Inn with their instruments as they did in Homecoming. I love how much fun they're having on stage and that the singers get to show off some of their other talents.

The girls performed The Parting Glass as their closing number. After the girls left the stage, the show wrapped up as it began, with the choir on stage, this time singing a brief reprise of The Parting Glass.

Until we meet again, ladies!


Overall:

This show was really good! I'm not prepared yet to determine if it's my favorite Celtic Woman tour I've seen. The Homecoming tour had more songs I haven't ever heard Celtic Woman perform before (a few songs I'd never heard at all before). But Ancient Land had the coolest stage design, the best song intros, and some exceptionally re-arranged classics. I'm really glad I get to see this show up to three more times. It's a real pleasure to see those ladies perform and to be enchanted by the music from their Ancient Land.


Post-Show:

After the show, I hung around the stage door with some of the other fans. I offered some of the leftover Ancient Land and Megan buttons to some of the other fans, but they declined. That's not the first time that's happened. It must be me, because I find it hard to believe that people are this disinterested in free stuff.

It was pretty cold outside. Not as brutal as the night I saw the Home for Christmas tour, but still pretty chilly. This venue was ideal for a stage-and-greet / bus-and-greet. The stage door was clearly marked and there was only one. The bus was close to the stage door, but the girls could easily see people waiting for them without having their view obstructed by the bus when exiting the building. After 10-15 minutes or so, the girls started to come out! Catriona actually came out first. I went over to say hi as I've never actually met her before, but while she was signing things for some of the other fans, I saw Mairead come out wearing a stylish hat. I waved at her and she came over! I don't think I was able to say much. I think I just told her the show was really good. I got a photo with her and after she signed some things for other fans then got on the bus.

So the lovely Mairead Carlin was the first person I ever met at a tour bus and the first active member of Celtic Woman I've ever met at a stage door! That's quite fitting, because her voice in particular has had a profound impact on my life.

Eabha came out next in a thin dress. She waved at us and she thanked me for the gifts. I guess the gifts that were confiscated from me before the show did their way to the girls! She didn't stop to chat, opting instead for the inviting warmth of the nearby tour bus. I can't blame her. I was chilly and I was actually wearing a coat, hat and gloves!

Megan came out next. She was wearing a sweater, but she seemed really cold. I told her I loved the show, got a quick picture with her and then she got on the bus.

Last was Tara (yes, they exiting the building in the same order as they were aligned in the Meet and Greet). She was dressed more appropriately for the weather and she stayed to chat with me for a couple of minutes. She asked me if this was my first Ancient Land show. I replied that it was ... aside from the two show at the castle. Her face lit up with an adorable expression. She asked me if I was going to any more shows and I replied I was going to three more, including Red Rocks! She said she was trying not to look to far ahead because there were so many other amazing venues coming up before Red Rocks, but that was going to be difficult, because she really loved her first experience performing there. I got a photo with her before she got on the tour bus bound for Syracuse.

The stage-and-greet / bus-and-greet reinforced the fact that if I want to say anything coherent and meaningful to them, I have to practice in advance. Tara was very good at leading the conversation, so I didn't really have to think of things to say. But if I have to try to come up with something to say to them on the fly without having rehearsed it extensively, I'm more than likely not going to be able to say much. The bus-and-greet is more unstructured than a Meet and Greet, which makes it much harder for me to prepare for. Still, I'd consider the post show meeting a success!

Only a week and a half as of me writing this until my next Ancient Land show!

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--- SPOILERS ABOVE ---

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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2019, 05:04:38 PM »

I enjoyed reading your experience, Tom!
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CWazyTom
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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2019, 07:55:53 PM »

I enjoyed reading your experience, Tom!

Thanks!  :)
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« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2019, 10:23:55 AM »

I haven't read the show section yet in case there are some things I don't already know. But your meet and greets, both official and at the bus, sound amazing! Glad you had such an awesome night and that you made it on time!
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« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2019, 05:25:36 AM »

I saw Ancient Land last night, my 9th show over the last 10 years so I`ve had the chance to see every different show and numerous CW performers. This show was wonderful, full of energy and the crowd was very responsive. As Mairead said"we always love coming to Providence, we always get such a warm welcome". It`s also a great venue for a "bus `n greet" as PPAC has no parking lot so the tour buses park on a side street alongside the theater. Megan came out first...and though there were only about 10 people waiting(looks like most people don`t realize what a golden opportunity it can be)...and she looked quite astonished that people were waiting to see her. She asked everyone several times"Did you enjoy the show?". She took several long minutes to sign  autographs , take pics and chat. Then the three other ladies came out and also took time for pics and chatting. I said to Mairead  as I opened my jacket and said "remember this?" revealing my "GOT MAIREAD?"  shirt which I wear every year. She said " I saw that!" as I had a front row seat. I got nice pics of them and with them. They were all more than  gracious.One person was taking a selfie with Mairead, Tara and Eabha and Eabha was giving him directions on how to work the camera. All in all, a great night......annnnnnd.....Tara said to me "Hi!!!! nice to see you AGAIN".....she remembered me from last year ..and the year before. She`s soooooooo nice!
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« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2019, 08:44:52 PM »

Sounds like an amazing bus and greet Kevin!
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CWazyTom
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« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2019, 10:56:44 PM »

My second show of the Ancient Land tour was at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan!

I thought this performance was even better than the show in Rochester!

There were a few people late to the M+G (and a few no-shows), but the M+G still started a little earlier than it did at this venue last year. I had a funny feeling before heading to the show that I wasn't going to remember what I was going to say this time, so I wrote everything on a cue card and had it in my hand at the M+G. That was a wise choice. I made significant use of the cue card. It was definitely my least clean delivery at a Celtic Woman Meet and Greet, but the girls seemed to really appreciate what I told each of them. It didn't feel rushed at all this time and I had at least a minute or two with the girls.

The Meet and Greet invite explicitly said no photography at all during the show. Just before the show, one of the ushers finally came around and told us that there were photos allowed, just no flash photography (and only cell phones were allowed, not real cameras, apparently).

One of the ushers did come over to me during the show to tell me I couldn't take videos. I didn't. Sometimes it just took longer than a few seconds to get a shot lined up, the light levels adjusted, the right lens selected, and wait for the right moment, so I guess it looked like I was taking a video.

I think this was my all-time favourite Celtic Woman tour show (maybe Home for Christmas 2016 is still my favourite, but this was definitely my favourite main tour show). It has the an exceptional balance of energy and heart. There is slightly less emphasis on full group harmony this tour. There are a couple of really good duets (Over the Rainbow and Siuil a Run) and some of the best solo showcase songs I've heard. Eabha's Garden of Eden is of course incredibly fun to listen to. Both of Megan's solos (Shenandoah and Fields of Gold) are outstanding. I enjoy her tour version of Shenandoah even more than the the performance at Johnstown Castle or on the Ancient Land album. I like the instrumental backing of the Shenandoah tour version more as well. Megan's Fields of Gold is quite simply my favourite version of that song ever! Her voice is perfect for that arrangement.

Mairead Carlin was beyond incredible! Both her solos are epic and between the two of them, she gets to show off her astonishing range, power, and heart. They're definitely my two all-time favourite Mairead Carlin songs on tour. Her performance of Newgrange is one of the most impressive things I've heard in a live performance.

The crowd in Detroit was small (I'd guess less than 40% of the seats were occupied), but they actually did a pretty good job of supporting the performers. Like the audience in Rochester, they clapped along well to a few of the songs and cheered most enthusiastically for Enchanted Way and the numbers that prominently featured the band and dancers. There were quite a few people that gave standing ovations for Over the Rainbow, Newgrange, and the final two songs of the show. I gave a few extra standing ovations on my own for Garden of Eden, Fields of Gold, Love and Honor, and Ae Fond Kiss.

I got my cousin a ticket to the show. It was her first time seeing Celtic Woman live. Prior to that, she'd only heard me rave about them and had seen a few clips on YouTube. She was really impressed with their amazing voices. She couldn't believe how beautiful they sounded and I actually had to convince her they weren't lip-syncing, because they sounded so perfect.

My new phone got a full workout this time. I ended up taking 188 pictures, 103 of which turned out quite well. I was really surprised how clear some of the pictures turned out. The pictures still weren't as good as I could have gotten with a real camera, but it definitely did a better job than my old phone, especially this was really my first show using it.

In spite of taking far more pictures than I thought I did, I didn't find it was distracting me. I was still able to fully enjoy the performance and actually enjoyed it even more than the show in Rochester.

Only a month from Friday until my next Ancient Land show!
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« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2019, 01:09:59 AM »

Now that I've seen my first Ancient Land show (finally!), I came back to this thread to read through it.  I can't wait to hear "Over the Rainbow" again and pay special attention to the ending that Tom mentioned.
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