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CWazyTom
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« on: November 28, 2018, 11:51:56 PM »

--- SIGNIFICANT SPOILERS BELOW ---

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The Journey

The weather reports the night before the show were not looking good at all. The weather to the north and west of Buffalo didn't look great, but the weather to the south and east looked terrible. The girls were travelling in from the east in their from their first show in New Jersey and there were times when it looked so bad I was worried the show might get cancelled.

For the most part, my drive over to Buffalo was great! Much less traffic than I was expecting. I actually had to take an unnecessary pit stop because I was going to get to arrive in Buffalo far earlier than planned. It was probably the smoothest drive I've had to Buffalo. The weather was a bit sour for the 30 minutes or so closest to Buffalo, both there and back. But there wasn't more than a dusting of snow and we were expecting much worse.

Even the border crossings in both directions were unusually quick and painless.

prideslaw and I met up for a quick bite to eat at the Allen Street Poutine Company before the Meet and Greet. It was adequate for its purpose: reasonably priced and sufficiently tasty sustenance.

It was only a few minutes away from Kleinhans Music Hall, but it was actually a bit tricky to get into the parking lot. It was dark and snowy at that point, shortly after 5:00 PM and the entrance I was expecting to use was actually blocked off. There was a poorly marked side road an odd angle that I ended up driving down to get to the other parking lot entrance.



Meet and Greet

The Meet and Greet was on the lower level of the venue. They actually had a table set up with free snacks and drinks. They had round tables set up and around the room and a backdrop set up for photographs. They also had free posters of the Best of Christmas show for the girls to sign!

The Meet and Greet time was 5:45 PM, with the show starting at 7:00 PM. That's an unusually long amount of time for a Meet and Greet to be held before the show. I was really excited by the prospect pre-show Meet and Greet to not be rushed to the point of absurdity.

All that for only $50!

Unfortunately, the girls were running really behind schedule. I think the Meet and Greet organizer mentioned the girls didn't finish rehearsal until almost 6:00 PM and still had to change into their dresses and get their hair and makeup done.

A lot of people were late arriving to the Meet and Greet. They were still trickling in well after 6:00 PM.

We were getting increasingly anxious as the time went by. Eventually, the M+G organizer came around to collect all the posters and said there wouldn't be time for them to sign them during the Meet and Greet, so they would have the girls sign them in time for the end of intermission. Sett told the M+G organizer at one point that we had to wrap the M+G up within 15 minutes once the girls were ready.

I think the actual Meet and Greet finally started well after 6:30 PM. We clapped as the girls came in to the room looking stunning in their dresses. Sett basically told us that they were behind schedule so just get in line and get your picture and keep it moving. It felt like the most rushed M+G I've ever experienced. prideslaw and I went last. We weren't quite standing at the proper spot in line, so Sett almost took the girls away before we even got to meet them!

I had planned things to say to the girls) about 30 seconds a piece, as well as something I really wanted to tell them at the end of the Meet and Greet. But I was so stressed out at that point that I just ran up to Eabha and hugged her without saying anything. I smiled at Mairead and hugged her without saying anything significant. Megan told me it was so nice to finally meet me! Well, that was my opening line for her, so I just told her she was amazing and I hugged her. Last was Tara. I normally forget what I'm going to say to her anyways. So I just smiled at her, said something like "hi Tara" and then gave her my traditional CWazyTom bonus hug.

One of the girls got makeup on my dress shirt. I really didn't mind. I'm never washing that again :D.

I got a quick photo with the girls. Then I handed them their gift bags, which included Christmas cards with personal messages for each of the girls, as well as some tasty chocolates. Since we were in a rush, I actually just handed them all to Tara and jokingly said they were all for her. The girls laughed.

The Meet and Greet wrapped up about 10 minutes before show time at 7:00 PM. At the Meet and Greet on the Homecoming tour, they didn't even start the M+G until about 10 minutes before the start time of the show.

So in hindsight, I probably could have just told the girls all the things I wanted to say and should have said something more than I did. I did after all spend a significant amount of time and effort on short notice preparing exactly what I wanted to tell them. Sett was just really stressing me out with all the talk of being behind schedule and having to wrap it up and I was honestly a bit flustered at that point over the whole situation.

As I write this, I have 3 Meet and Greets purchased for the Ancient Land tour. Considering how rushed this was, it doesn't fill me with a lot of confidence that I'll be able to tell them anything next year. But at least I have multiple chances to do so and letters, stage-and-greets, and social media as a fallbacks.

Megan told me after the Meet and Greet on social media that it was her very first Meet and Greet with Celtic Woman. So I was at her first two shows with Celtic Woman, her first Meet and Greet, and her second tour show. I'm so glad I was there for her at the start of her journey with this group I love so much.



Dresses

The girls wore a single set of dresses for both acts. I think they were the same dresses as the Home for Christmas tour back in 2016. If they weren't all the same, most were very similar. Two years ago, I missed out on a Meet and Greet with the girls in those dresses. It took two years, but I finally got my M+G and photo. Redemption!



Merch Table

Before the show, I paid a visit to the merch table, which was AMAZING! They had Best of Christmas tour t-shirts, Celtic Woman Christmas sweaters, mugs, shot glasses, Celtic Woman Christmas ornaments, Celtic Woman Christmas stockings, magnets, Best of Christmas CDs, Ancient Land CDs, and programs. Wow!!! Probably more that I can't recall. I ended up getting a stocking, an ornament, a T-shirt, and a program.

While I was still at the merch table, there was someone beside me that was checking out the CDs, including the Ancient Land CD. The person turned it over a few times looking at it. The merch vendor said it was their new CD that they released a few months ago. The person put the CD down. I then said I had all of their CDs (literally) and this was my favourite. That CD then got purchased! You're welcome, Celtic Woman. You're welcome too, stranger: enjoy the best CD ever!

At last, it was show time!



Stage

The stage was on the left side of the stage as seen from the audience. Caitriona and Darragh were to the right side. A full orchestra was behind them. There was some tinsel across the front of the stage, but that was all for Christmas decorations ... well, aside from the snow coming down outside.



The Harmony

The girls didn't waste any time using the harmony and it was probably the best harmony I've heard at any live show. Celtic Woman harmony is always fantastic, but it seemed extra-spectacular during this show. It was crystal clear and incredibly satisfying.



Selected Track Notes

There are certain popular Christmas songs that people want to hear and only so many that Celtic Woman might have the rights to sing. As a result, the number of viable Christmas songs to choose from is limited and there was a fair amount of overlap with the 2016 Home for Christmas tour.

There were varying degrees of differences in a few of the Christmas songs (beyond the fact that Anto wasn't there and Megan is a member of Celtic Woman now).

Some of the arrangements seemed quite similar to 2016, but I didn't mind at all because:
- I haven't heard some of those arrangements in 2 years
- The Home for Christmas tour was one of the best shows I've ever seen!

So glad to hear many of those wonderful songs again.

Murphy's Mistletoe:
- This was a Christmas medley by the orchestra and it was a rousing start to the show

Once In Royal David's City:
- Similar to the Voices of Angels / 2016 Home for Christmas tour arrangement, which is a good thing, because the harmony is soooo good!

Ave Maria:
- Mairead got a pretty strong ovation for this one, probably the biggest reaction of all the solo songs of the night

Across the World:
- This is so much fun to listen to! I have another note on this song in the "Crowd" section.

O Holy Night:
- Another arrangement with exceptional harmony!
- Megan's voice is beautiful and powerful at practically any register and she was really impressive in this song, especially when singing in tandem with Mairead's spectacular high notes.

Amazing Grace:
- Tara played the opening of the song on the violin, probably because Anto is with Sue and their newborn child.
- As I mentioned in the write-up on Ancient Land, this song as come a long way since the arrangement was unveiled on Voies of Angels. It was really well done.

Deck the Halls:
- Tara's intro before this song was hilarious!
- Paraphrasing: "Ok, we'd like you to sing the next one. Now the words to the chorus are a bit tricky, but we'll teach you how to sing it and then will give it a try. It goes: fa la la la la ... la la ... la la."
- She paused dramatically and smiled adorably between some of the words to make it even more funny. She even tilted her head and looked upwards as though she was trying really hard to remember the lyrics. LOL!
- She really got to show her personality on stage in this one. It's one of my all-time favourite Tara moments!
- This had rousing orchestra arrangement and it was really fun to sing along!
- The crowd participation in this one was pretty good.

Wexford Carol:
- The harmony at the end was phenomenal!

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear:
- This was Susan's big solo Christmas song while she was with Celtic Woman.
- Both Megan and Susan did an outstanding job performing this. Her voice, when fully unleashed is awesome!

Greensleeves:
- WOW! Tara played this really beautifully.
- She really poured her heart into it and I could feel that she played.

Over the Rainbow:
- Just like in Ancient Land, this was a really powerful performance by Megan and Mairead
- That ending is incredible!

We Three Kings:
- At the Home for Christmas show in 2016, Anto played the bagpipes with her while she sang this
- This time, Darragh Murphy played the Uillean pipes with her
- Both times, Mairead was spectacular!

Joy to the World:
- I didn't look at the set list at all before the show, so they actually fooled me with this one.
- The ending was so awesome with the orchestra I thought it was the finally and stood up at the end.
- Oops...

We Wish You a Merry Christmas:
- This was REALLY well arranged
- It started with Tara and an engaging drum beat
- The ending was really powerful
- The crowd definitely thought this was the end
- This got a standing ovation and a MASSIVE and sustained applause. I think that was the best applause I've experienced at any Celtic Woman show.
- AWESOME moment!
- It was sustained for a good 30 seconds or so and the girls had to actually start their closing remarks before the finale to get us to calm down

Auld Lang Syne:
- A powerful orchestra backed version with great harmony and strong vocals
- Megan and Mairead were once again really impressive in this one
- I was dry eyed for most of the night (one of those nights I guess were I couldn't properly show the girls what I was feeling inside). But knowing this was the last song (for real, this time), I got a bit emotional.
- The girls got another standing ovation

Then, Mairead thanked us for coming and wished us a safe journey home.




Orchestra

Celtic Woman sounds amazing even with only a band. With a full orchestra behind them, they sounded even more impressive!

I thought the orchestra arrangements were very well done. The sound quality in the venue was excellent too. The orchestra backing for the big numbers was really spectacular. It reminded me a lot of the the thunderous backing in my favourite Christmas DVD: Home for Christmas.

I was actually even more impressed with this orchestra than I was for Chloë's show in March, and that's saying a lot!




Crowd

In spite of the foul weather to the south and the east of Buffalo that evening, the auditorium was almost full. The turnout for both Celtic Woman Christmas shows I've been to was significantly better than for the normal US tour shows I've been to. There are fewer Christmas shows so I suppose they draw people from a wider area and I suppose Christmas shows have even wider appeal than an Irish crossover show.

The crowd was good for the most part. It wasn't nearly as energetic an audience as one would experience at a Nathan Carter show. They gave the girls warm and enthusiastic applause at the end of songs. I appreciated that and I'm sure the girls did too.

The audience was surprisingly un-involved for Across the World though. There were maybe three or four of us clapping in the front row and just a feeble smattering of claps aside from that. Tara kept looking at us and she was clearly appreciative that we didn't give up on encouraging her.

Even for Eabha and Tara's Ard Uí Chuain / Sive, the clapping was mostly confined to a few people in the front row, with a small amount of participation from other pockets in the audience.

But for a few rare instances, I found myself as pretty much the only person in the audience giving standing ovations for pretty impressive performances. I can't remember all the songs I stood for, but some of them were Tara's Tunes, Deck the Halls, Midnight Clear, We Three Kings, Over the Rainbow, and all the songs at the end, starting with Joy to the World.

I suppose I looked stupid at times to other people in the audience and maybe even annoying. I don't care. The girls deserved the standing ovations I gave them. I get that the standard is to reserve standing ovations for only the most spectacular aspects of a performance or the finale. But what can I say? I loved every song and the girls truly impressed me with their heart and their talent.

All the girls appreciated my support, but especially Megan, who looked at me and mouthed "thank you" several times during the show.

It was a decent buzz in the crowed overall, but the crowd really delivered for We Wish You a Merry Christmas. That ovation was super-spectacular!!!




Post-Show:

We hung around for a few minutes after the show and as the stage was being cleaned up, I asked for copies of the set lists. We already had the set lists in our official programs, but we decided to collect the copies that were on stage too.

Before the show, we did spot the tour busses right next to the venue. But given the deteriorating weather conditions outside and the "Long Journey Home" after the show, we opted not to attempt a bus and greet afterwards. Besides, the girls were better off getting out of town as quick as possible before the weather got worse.

I left this show with a LOT more stuff than planned:
- Best of Christmas poster signed by all 4 girls.
- Special Meet and Greet badge with the Best of Christmas promo picture and the girls on it.
- Best of Christmas program
- Regular ticket and Meet and greet ticket
- Celtic Woman Christmas ornament
- Celtic Woman Best of Christmas T-Shirt
- Celtic Woman Christmas stocking
- Set list from the stage
- A little bit of Celtic Woman makeup on my shirt. Lol.
- Hugs from all the girls at the Meet and Greet.

I got a lot of awesome things at this show, but the hugs were definitely the best, aside of course from all the wonderful music.

A few of the girls messaged me the next day to let me know how much they appreciated my cards and tasty chocolates. That was very sweet and thoughtful of them. There's something I had meant to tell Mairead at the Meet and Greet had there been time:

"Sometimes, the littlest things can make the biggest difference in our lives, especially when those little things come from people we admire so much. It's not just the lovely music that makes Celtic Woman so special, it's the wonderful people like you."

Thank you for reading! I wish everyone a happy holiday season and all the best at Christmas.



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--- SIGNIFICANT SPOILERS ABOVE ---
« Last Edit: November 29, 2018, 12:24:46 AM by CWazyTom » Logged
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VegasDavid
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« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2018, 12:33:58 AM »

Thanks for the info, Tom!  That's so great that you finally got to meet Megan, though too bad they didn't give you more than a few seconds.  I wouldn't mind a Celtic Woman Christmas ornament; it would go nicely with the souvenir wooden harp ornament I got from Ireland.

It sounds like you didn't see Anthony Byrne play at all, right?  That's weird, because he showed up in Tara's instagram story tonight, playing bagpipes inside a restaurant for stage manager Sett's birthday (LOL!).
« Last Edit: December 01, 2018, 12:37:36 AM by VegasDavid » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2018, 01:50:49 AM »

I was surprised to see Anthony byrne play at the Shippensburg Concert on the 29th of November.

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« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2018, 12:28:27 PM »

After writing my last post, I saw this announcement on Instagram which makes it sound like Anto is officially on the tour now but was missing earlier:

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bq0kBvYgQT-/
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CWazyTom
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« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2018, 12:48:32 PM »

After writing my last post, I saw this announcement on Instagram which makes it sound like Anto is officially on the tour now but was missing earlier:

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bq0kBvYgQT-/


He wasn't there for the first two shows, but returned on Wednesday, December 5th, the day after I saw the show.

It must be hard to be away from his newborn daughter and lovely wife Sue and Joanie have amazing support back home. He's probably having a great time on tour, though.
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CWazyTom
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« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2018, 06:07:32 PM »

Here's an article on the Best of Christmas Show in Buffalo.

It definitely contains spoilers so if you're reading before attending the Best of Christmas show, beware!

https://buffalonews.com/2018/11/28/celtic-woman-charms-kleinhans-with-the-best-of-christmas/
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