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Author Topic: Festival of Stars: The Irish Jukebox starring Nathan Carter (Write-Up)  (Read 303 times)
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« on: December 05, 2018, 09:30:30 PM »

Festival of Stars: The Irish Jukebox starring Nathan Carter

On December 4th, 2018, Nathan Carter and guests (including Chloë Agnew) performed at the Meridian Center in St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada.

Set List

Act 1:

Wagon Wheel
Good Time Girls
King of the Road
Winnie O'Neill
Glenn Campbell Medley
Fairytale of New York (duet with Chloë)
Feels Like Home (Chloë)
Isle of Hope (Chloë)
Temple Bar
Figtzgerald's 1 Tune / Dance
Banks of the Roses

Act 2:

Loch Lomond
Home to Donegal
Brush Dance Mason
Ireland I'm Coming Home (Chloë)
Grace (Chloë)
My Church
Fitzgerald's 2 Tunes
Galway Girl
Thank God I'm A Country Boy
Town I Loved So Well
Irish Rover
Oh Holy Night
Reprise Irish Rover

The Journey

I had a dream the night before the show that I was late for the show because of traffic and because I got lost. I was really devastated I missed out on Chloë and was pretty relieved when I woke up.

The combination of that dream and my terrifying travel experience the previous weekend led me to leave over 5 hours before the start of the show, even though it was only a 1.5 hour drive under normal traffic conditions.

The drive to St. Catherines was mercifully less eventful than the drive to Orla's show in Toronto. The weather was great. There was a rush-hour congestion in some places, but for the most part, traffic was moving along pretty well.

I met up with prideslaw before the show for a bit to eat and some refreshments. We then headed over to the venue and waited a while for them to let people in. It was really chilly outside. Fortunately, the staff let people wait inside part of the building until the door opened.

The Merch Table

For the second Tuesday in a row, I spent a LOT more money than I was planning to at the merch table. There were lots of Nathan Carter CDs as one would expect, though not all of them. The only Nathan Carter album and DVD I have so far is Celtic Roots, from last year, because they both featured Chloë on a couple of songs.

I looked at the track list on some of the CDs but opted to get Nathan Carter's Celtic Country DVD instead. It'll be something fun to watch whenever I don't want to overdo the Celtic Woman DVDs.

The Fitzgerald's (who are from Ontario, Canada) had 2 CDs and a DVD available. They're really talented and I enjoyed their performance at Nathan Carter's show in Toronto last year, so I ended up getting both CDs and the DVD to support and enjoy them.

Chloë's "The Thing About You" EP and "Home for Christmas" EP were available too. Heartstrings was supposed to be at the merch table too, but didn't make it due to a shipping issue. I already have all her CDs and her DVD and she's already signed all my copies, so ironically, though I was sporting a Chloë t-shirt and was there to see her, I ended up getting everyone's merch except hers.

Venue and Crowd

The performance was in half of a hockey arena. I was actually pretty surprised at the lackluster turnout. The floor section was pretty full, but the stands at the back and the wings were mostly empty. There were maybe 1000-1200 people. For comparison, Celtic Woman last year in London, Ontario had slightly fewer floor seats, but the stands were pretty full for the Celtic Woman show.

The crowd was alright, but didn't seem nearly as enthusiastic as the one in Toronto last year. Either the sound didn't carry well or almost all the clapping was done by the first few rows.

The show was actually the last in a series of shows in St. Catherines over a two day span, part of the Festival of Stars. Perhaps a lot of people attended the earlier shows and there wasn't much energy left for the last one. A lot of people missed out on a great show!

I had an assigned front row seat, but as is typical of front row arena seating, those chairs were packed together pretty tightly. I had to sort of hold my arms in the whole time, which made clapping along to songs a bit a little awkward and uncomfortable.

The Show

Just like last year in Toronto, the show was really fun! Lots of energy in the music and from the performers. Nathan has a lot of good songs. Some of my favourites are "Banks of the Roses," "Irish Rover," "Temple Bar" and "Reels." Nathan does a great job with "Town I Loved So Well" too. It's a long song, but he performs it in a way that I don't get bored by the end. It's a song about Derry and the hard times it's been through. At least two of my favourite singers (Mairead Carlin and Margaret Keys) are from Derry and that added to my interest in the song, which was great in its own right.

The Brush Dance was brief, but both impressive and funny. Apparently they had three brooms for the dance, but they all went missing. So one of the event staff had to give them a maintenance broom.

There weren't really any songs I didn't enjoy.

The Fitzgeralds are really talented siblings from a nearby town in Ontario, Canada. They all play violin very well and they are also really good tap dancers. They dance with a lot of intensity and pace, kind of like something you'd see in Lord of the Dance. That must be very hard on the knees. I was super-impressed!

My favourite Fitzgeralds moment was their performance of "Danny Boy." I did like the first half a bit more than the second, but that violin harmony in the first half was as beautiful as one would hear from Celtic Woman singers. It was REALLY pretty!

It was a long time before Chloë first came out on stage, but that was consistent with last year's show in Toronto.

Chloë wore a brilliant white (angelic) dress in the first act and a predominantly black dress with a touch of white sparkles at the top. Both dresses were quite stunning.

Chloë performed in 6 songs:

Fairytale of New York (duet)
Feels Like Home
Isle of Hope
Ireland I'm Coming Home
My Church (duet)

A song called "Gathering" was on the set list. I'm not sure if that was supposed to be "The Gathering," but if it was, they didn't perform it.

As always, Chloë sounded amazing and performed with a lot of heart. She also waved to me a few times and even blew me a few kisses, including a big one at the end of Isle of Hope.

Near the end of the show, during Irish Rover, I saw Chloë emerge from the curtain to stage left to record part of the song. You could actually see me in one of her Instagram stories, albeit very briefly and from a distance.

Meet and Greet

Now for the part of the story everyone has been waiting for (or at least everyone that saw my teaser photos late last night after I got home).

The Meet and Greet was on the ground level in the hallway at the end of the arena (behind the seats furthest from the stage). We waited around for a while so we could be near the back of the line and not be rushed by someone waiting behind us. While we were waiting, I saw two of the Fitzgeralds walk by. I told them they were amazing. They thanked me for the compliment, but were in a hurry, so didn't stop to chat with me.

I think most people must have left because there seemed like less than even a hundred people in line to meet Nathan and Chloë. Based on the way we were lined up, Nathan was first and Chloë was second, just like in Toronto. Also, just like in Toronto, most of the crowd was there to see Nathan and most seemed to not even know who Chloë was. She seemed like she was getting bored all by herself over there. She saw me and smiled and waved at me while I was waiting to take prideslaw's picture with Nathan. I felt like she wanted me to come over and keep her company. She seemed a little dejected when I didn't. I wanted to, but I had a plan this time, one I had been working on off and on since I got my ticket in May or June, before the show was even announced and I wanted people to clear out so she could hear what I had to say.

I met Nathan first. Thanked him for coming back to Canada and told him his show was really fun. I gave him a hearty handhake and a gift bag, had him sign the cover of the DVD I had purchased at the merch table earlier, and got a few photos. Then it was Chloë time!

There was nobody left in line, so Nathan left the area. A few of the crew apparently stuck around for the show that was about to happen. Fortunately, with most of the people already cleared out of the hallway, it was actually possible to talk to her.

I had met Chloë four times previously. Each experience had been a really positive one. But while I had told her bits and pieces of things I wanted to say, there were things in my heart I had really wanted to tell her but could never say them in earlier Meet and Greets. This time, I worked really hard on exactly what I wanted to say and how and I practiced a lot. It definitely paid off.

I rarely post details of what I tell the girls in cards, letters, or Meet and Greets because I feel like those are private moments between them and I. In this case though, I think you need to read what I told her to understand what happened next.

I started by telling her how great it was to see her again. She asked me how I was and I told her I was great, because I had just seen my favourite singer in the world perform live and that only a few months ago, I had see Celtic Woman perform at a castle in Ireland ... twice! We chatted really briefly about that, but I wanted to keep the conversation focused on her this time. I had some more about various locations Ireland she inspired met to go to in the letter ;)

My voice was shaking the whole time because I was fighting back the emotion.

What I said went a little something like this:

Chloë, I've been meaning to tell you something since the first time I met you. Maybe you've heard this all before, but I'm going to "Say It Anyway" (quoting one of the songs from her EP).

Your EP "The Thing About You" is soooo good! It's really fun to listen to and I love it very much. You are an amazing, singer, songwriter, and person. There's nobody else like you.

I honestly believe that hearing your voice for the first time is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I can hardly believe that it's been only two and a half years since I first met you, because if feels like your music has been such a huge part of my life for so long.

That first time I met you, I was soooo nervous. There I was, standing in line, about to meet my favourite singer in the world, not knowing what to say to her that could ever thank her enough for all her lovely music. Even though her music meant the world to me, I didn't even know if she knew who I was.

I was so surprised when you recognized me! You made me feel very special and appreciated and you do that for me all the time. I'm so grateful to you for that. That first time I met you and every time since, has been a dream come true. Someone once said that you should never meet your heroes. But that person never met someone as wonderful as you.

This was a very rare Meet and Greet, perhaps the only one, where I actually said almost everything I had planned to say and close to the way I wanted to express it. The delivery wasn't perfect or as smooth as it could have been, but I think it worked out even better the way it did.

Right from the start, Chloë was feeling every word I said. She was overwhelmed a few times and was fighting back tears almost the entire time. She was genuinely appreciative of everything I said about her and her EP and she was crying when I told her the story about waiting in line to meet her for the first time.

There were a few times I had to collect my thoughts and she thought I was done. But I had done enough Meet and Greets at that point to have the confidence to tell her I had more I wanted to tell her.

She was so patient with me and when she saw I was struggling emotionally to pour my heart out in front of her, she took my hands, kept holding them, and re-assured me that I could do it.

There were still staff and crew in the hallway watching all this, but I didn't care. I didn't even notice them until it was over. In that moment, there was only Chloë and I and the world and all its troubles seemed far away.

She thanked me for being so supportive of her and told me how much all those lovely things I said meant to her as an artist and as a person.

I then showed her a poster from the first show where I met her and asked her to sign it.

The story behind that poster / photo is I had originally made a deal with the venue administrator at that first show that I would write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper (which I did) about the show and the venue in exchange for a poster from the show. It's been a few years now and I never did get that poster in spite of following up on it a few times. So I ended up making one from bits and pieces online, made a few modifications, and and re-sized it to 8x10 to make it fit in with my other signed photos. I've been waiting since the first time I met her to sign something like that and she finally did. Now I can frame that and the ticket she signed at my very first Meet and Greet ever and they can finally be together.

We hugged each other several times and they were the best hugs ever, because we both really meant it.

I presented her with the gift bag I got her. One of the items inside was a letter explaining the gifts I got her, including a gift I got her in Ireland at a moment when I though of her. I think she's really going to like that one when she reads it. [ EDIT: She did ;) ]

Last came the photos. We did our regular set of poses and then Chloë pointed my face towards the camera and kissed me on the cheek!!!!

That ... was ... AWESOME!!!!

She did leave some lipstick on there. I was tempted to "never wash it again." But I decided going into work the next day like that might not be appropriate, so I begrudgingly washed it off when I got home (after admiring it for a while).

We gave each other a few more big hugs, wished each other a Merry Christmas, and then it was time to say goodbye ... at least until we meet again next year.

I was smiling almost the entire 1.5 to 2 hours it took to get home. I put on my Celtic Woman Christmas Compilation mix CD, but it was really hard to concentrate on it because I was still so overwhelmed with excitement. I was so proud of myself for finally saying what I wanted to and not giving up when I got stuck. That kiss she gave me was really, REALLY special. But the thing that touched my heart the most was how Chloë was so moved by the things I said to her and how, like she always is, was there for me to give me courage and confidence when I needed it most.

Thank you Chloë Agnew for your patience, your strength, your beautiful voice and the best Meet and Greet of my life. <3
« Last Edit: December 06, 2018, 12:50:57 PM by CWazyTom » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2018, 10:29:14 PM »

Sounds absolutely amazing Tom! What an incredible meet and greet!
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« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2018, 12:24:21 PM »

Good job, Tom!  That must have taken some guts to say all that to Chloë.
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« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2018, 12:48:35 PM »

Good job, Tom!  That must have taken some guts to say all that to Chloë.

A bit of guts, yes. The real challenges were excitement and nerves. I had to really plan and practice to be able to express it effectively in front of her. I get nervous wanting it to be perfect. I'm horrible at verbal communication when I have to wing it, and my memory abandons me when I'm in front of those wonderful ladies. That's one more reason that bus and greets scare me. Without having something planned and rehearsed, I usually can't think of things to say and there's just awkward silence or repetition. I'm sure the girls would understand, but still, it makes it so stressful to even think about it
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