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CWazyTom
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« on: June 08, 2019, 11:14:57 AM »

Red Rocks Writeup (Part 1)

On the morning of the big show, I headed over to Red Rocks! I had seen pictures of the venue of course, but to actually be standing there at the top of the amphitheater, looking down at the stage where my favourite group was about to perform, was truly special.

They were still in the early stages of putting together the stage when I arrived. The lighting racks had not yet been raised and they were just beginning to lay down the triskele.

Inside the visitor center at the top (back) of the amphitheater was a hallway with all the past Red Rocks concerts listed. There upon that wall I found the dates of Celtic Woman's previous shows at Red Rocks. After years of seeing videos of those amazing shows, reading the rave reviews, and wishing I had been there to see it, my wish had finally come true.

I got a considerable amount of souvenirs from the gift shop, but I spent less time than money in the the visitor center. I was eager to get back out there and take in the spectacular amphitheater with my own eyes. Bad knees weren't going to stop me from walking down the steps and back up to take in the view from different vantage points.

The weather was great at that point and I had some time to spare before the start of the fan gathering, so I walked along the Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks park. The trail runs loops around some spectacular rock formations, surrounded by foliage, to the south of the amphitheater. It took less than an hour and wasn't overly strenuous. The views all along the trail were incredible! As I took in all that scenery and fresh air, I couldn't help but reflect on the places I've been and the things I've seen over the past few years since I started going to see Celtic Woman shows. That group and its lovely leading ladies have inspired me to visit so many amazing places. They have connected me with great new friends. They have enriched my life in ways I couldn't have imagined.

I finished the trail just in time to head over to the fan gathering at the Outback Steakhouse, where about 23 of us assembled to catch up with each other and to celebrate our favourite group. As I had been at the fan gathering before Lisa Kelly's (barely two weeks prior to Red Rocks), I was feeling a bit antisocial. I didn't mingle and chat with too many people. I mostly stuck to chatting with the people around me with whom I was most comfortable. Perhaps that was a wasted opportunity, but there have been a few fan encounters at shows recently (including at one of Lisa Lambe's two shows) that were genuinely uncomfortable and I didn't want to inject any social stress so close to such a highly anticipated show.


Tickets, Please

Following the fan gathering, I headed over to the box office just after it opened at 4 PM to pick up my Meet and Greet passes as well as my tickets and Ancient Land DVD from PBS.

These Meet and Greet passes had a bit of a history going back to December 2018 when I ordered them. Due to a system issue of some sort, my original pledge didn't include the Meet and Greet passes. I had to contact PBS back in December to get that sorted out. After the pledge confirmations were sent out, my confirmation still didn't include a Meet and Greet (another system issue). I had to contact PBS again to confirm I had a Meet and Greet. In April, PBS sent out a notice that they had mailed the DVD and tickets that came with the pledge. They were supposed to arrive by the end of April but didn't. It's not uncommon for things to take longer to get here. But after I returned from the first of my first series of concerts in May, the package still hadn't arrived. So I contacted PBS again only to find that they had attempted to deliver the package but for some unknown reason, it had been returned to them. So I was to pick up the tickets and the Meet and Greet passes at the box office before the show.

Well there I was at the box office, just hours before the show. The package with the DVD and tickets was there waiting for me (although it apparently took some effort to find it). But the Meet and Greet passes were not. Someone had to contact PBS to let them know there was a group of us waiting for Meet and Greet passes.

As we waited, we could see ominous clouds rolling in. It started to drizzle. As we waited, Ronan's parents stopped by to pick up their tickets, as did Tara's husband.

Finally, a representative from PBS came by and dropped off the passes ... only they didn't bring all the passes. So as it continued to rain on and off, the rest of us continued to wait. After an hour or so, PBS arrived with the rest of the Meet and Greet passes and we were off to the venue!

At the venue, there was more waiting. Like the a ride at an amusement park, the things we want to see the most sometimes demand the most patience. By the time we got to the merch table near the bottom of the amphitheater to gather for the Meet and Greet, there wasn't much time left but to wait for the Meet and Greet.


Meet and Greet

The Meet and Greet was held in a rock-walled hallway / room near the stage and the dressing room. Traditionally, I've been near the end of the line at the Meet and Greets. But I wanted a few extra minutes to walk back up to the top (rear) of the amphitheater before the show, so I got near the front of the line. As we were waiting in the hallway, some of the fans in the line sang me a happy birthday!

For many years, I despised hearing that song, especially in my honour. A lot of those years before I started seeing Celtic Woman shows were miserable. What was the purpose of celebrating another year when the road ahead seemed as bleak as the road traveled? Celtic Woman shows have given me pleasant memories to reflect upon and something to look forward to. I don't think I've ever enjoyed the song more than I did on that day, so thank you all who sang along for that special moment.

After a short wait in the hallway, the girls, a bounce in their steps and smiles on their faces, emerged from the dressing room area! Megan was first this time. In a throwback to my first concert of the Ancient Land tour in Rochester, NY, she opened with a handshake. She wished me a happy birthday. I told her how much fun it had been preparing their gifts this tour and asked her which was her favourite. I was a bit surprised at her answer as I was expecting it to be their least favourite. No matter. They all seemed pleased when told them that for the last gift of the tour, I had donated to all their charities. That was met with an adorable and satisfying "awwwwww" that could apparently be heard from down the hallway.

After giving Megan a hug, Eabha was up next in line. I told her that of all the tours I've seen, Ancient Land had been my favourite. It had been filled with energy, feeling, and beautiful music. I told her how grateful I was to everyone on and off the stage who had poured their hearts into this tour to make it so amazing for all of us.

Third in line was Mairead. She wished me a happy birthday. For the first time, I tried a little rhyme at the Meet and Greet:

For years I've blown out candles
Hoping wishes would come true
But I never dreamed a birthday gift
As wonderful as you


It was simple and I feared it would come across a little cheesy, but I delivered it as well as I could. It was met with another resounding "awwwwww" so it seemed the girls liked it. I told them it was very special to be with them at this bucket list venue on my birthday and that I was looking forward to another year with their music in my life.

Last was Tara. I told her that it wasn't just the music that made Celtic Woman so special. I love Celtic Woman as much as I do because of kind, talented, and adorable people like those that that were standing before me. I thanked her and the other girls for all the work it must take to be as amazing as they are then gave Tara a big hug. We ended up saying a few more words I don't quite remember, but they must have been meaningful, because Tara ended up hugging me again. Either Mairead or Eabha said "bonus hug" and the girls giggled adorably. I secretly wished that the girls would have sang me Happy Birthday too, although I was never going to ask them to do it, especially not when there were almost 20 people waiting behind me in the Meet and Greet line.

I was so content with myself for getting through two consecutive Meet and Greets without forgetting what I wanted to say, I almost forgot to stay for the photo! Ironically, the photo itself ended up being perhaps the worst Meet and Greet photo I've ever had. My phone overexposed the picture quite significantly. But although those Meet and Greets are technically glorified photo ops, it's the opportunity to tell those girls how special they are that means the most to me.

I don't think Sett was pleased at the amount of time I took with the girls (nor were some of the other people in line, I'm sure). It was at least a minute and a half and probably more. But for all the hassle and worry involved in securing those Meet and Greet passes this time, I was going to be sure I got my money's worth.  ;D


For the first time, my writeup ended up being so extensive that it exceeded the maximum character length of a post, so I had to split it up into two part. Part 2 is coming up next!
« Last Edit: June 09, 2019, 11:02:46 AM by CWazyTom » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2019, 11:15:40 AM »

Red Rocks Writeup (Part 2)


Before the Show

I was high on adrenaline after the Meet and Greet, so I ascended all the way up and down the steps of the amphitheater to take photos and take in the view. After almost 15 years, Celtic Woman still had the venue practically full from front to back! That was in spite of the very real threat of bad weather (the forecast was not only for showers but for thunderstorms part way through the show). For the 9000 or so of us that were about to enjoy one of the most memorable shows of our lives, the weather did indeed play a role.

The seating at the venue is all benches rather than seats (benches which, mercifully, had dried since the earlier rain). There was ample leg room between rows, although it seemed a bit cramped between one "seat" and the next. I had gotten a seat from Mike (row 2, stage right) before I knew that my seat from PBS (row 5 center) was going to be so good. I decided to use the ticket I got through Mike because it was a closer row and just on general principle: at every Celtic Woman show I want to sit as close to the front as possible. In this case, I think row 5 center would have probably been a better choice. The stage was at around the same height as my seat and it was great not to have my head tilted up sharply for the whole show. However, the second row was probably a good 20 feet or more from the stage and being that far to stage right might have actually been further from center stage than was the middle of row 5. The distance, combined with the steep angle, made it really challenging to take photos. I had much better success taking pictures at the other three Ancient Land shows. Still the vantage point (stage right to witness Ancient Land) reminded me a lot of those magical two nights at Johnstown Castle. So I stayed put over there in row 2.

It was still light outside and there were a few patches of blue sky amidst the low and ominous clouds overhead. The stage was quite a bit larger than the Ancient Land set. There was a high roof over top of the stage. Other than the extra space, the main difference between the Red Rocks set and the other shows on the tour was the backdrop. Behind the curtain at the back of the stage was the rock from which the venue gets its name. Images were projected onto the curtains and floodlights of varying color were used to light up the rock behind the stage. There was a large video screen off to stage left. Both sides of the amphitheater were bounded by magnificent natural rock walls. It was nice to have a moment between the Meet and Greet and the show to take in the spectacular venue. I was so lucky to be at one of Earth's natural wonders to experience four of the most incredible women to grace her surface.


The Show

At last, after months of planning and years of dreaming, it was time to see Celtic Woman perform at Red Rocks! The show started with images of Johnstown Castle projected on the curtains. It already seemed long ago that I first saw Ancient Land at the castle. It was fitting that Ancient Land, that began at such an stunning venue, was now coming to an end at the most epic natural venue on the planet. Red Rocks might be the only venue that could top a castle.

The show got off to a bit of a ... "rocky" start. ;) As the vocalists were coming down the steps together to join Tara on the stage, Megan tripped and fell. :o I think maybe she peeked at the massive audience as she was coming down the steps and  in that moment of distraction, took a wee tumble. The other ladies looked over to check on her. Fortunately, she was ok. Megan got up quickly and it didn't seem to phase any of the ladies at all. If Megan was embarrassed at all, she hid it very well. I was really impressed how well she maintained her composure and the way she rebounded from that made me respect her as a performer even more than I already did. The ladies were all sure-footed for the rest of the show.

Homeland is definitely my favourite opening vocal number ever. It's such a fun and well-arranged song!

Moorlough Shore came next. If you're out there Charlie, Maeve is still looking for you! There are now thousands of people all over North America who have been enchanted by the story of Eabha's grandmother and Charlie O'Neill, so even though they didn't find each other on this tour, they both found a place together in our hearts.

Because of where I was sitting, the sound from one of the speakers was coming directly at me. As a result, I don't think I got the full effect of the sound echoing off the flanking rocks. Still, the audio was outstanding and as one could imagine, even better than at a typical indoor venue. I imagine the sound carried very well to the back of the amphitheater. Mairead performing Newgrange was epic! Megan's strong voice resonated brilliantly when she sang Fields of Gold between the Rocks of Red. I would have liked to have heard her belting out a solo at that venue, but even without unleashing the full power of her voice, she sounded astonishingly good! Eabha's profound voice sounded even more haunting than usual as it echoed around the theater. Tara and her violin were more enchanting than ever! The venue offered great sound, but I think more than anything, it inspired the very best from the performers.

The piper, John Hunt Jr, continued Anto's tradition of starting Amazing Grace from creative positions in the venue. For this show, he perched atop a rock at the side of the venue to stage left. The sun seemed to be in the process of setting as Amazing Grace started and that created a nice contrast between the rocks, the piper and the twilight beyond. Prior to the Homecoming tour, I was getting a bit tired of hearing this song over and over again. However, the arrangement they unveiled on the Homecoming tour re-kindled my interest in this once-tired tune. It sounded great at the castle last year as it did at all the shows on the Ancient Land tour. But the way it sounded at Red Rocks was phenomenal! That was by far my all-time favourite performance of Amazing Grace.

By the interval (intermission), the sun had set and the rocks to either side of the seating were illuminated by a splendid faint red hue.

The lighting upon the stage wasn't ideal at times. For instance, during Danny Boy, Tara's face was practically in darkness for most of the song. Sometimes, the spotlight was far too strong and it over-saturated the ladies with light. But I think most of the audience was so enchanted by the performers on the sage, they either didn't notice or didn't care about any lighting issues there may have been.

The wind was strong during the whole show, but it really picked up in the second act. The curtains flapped wildly to the extent that they seemed close to whacking the percussionists. The sound of the curtains catching the wind and snapping back and forth was loud enough that the microphones were picking it up and getting amplified by the speakers. At times, I wasn't sure whether I was hearing thunder or the sound of the curtains. I'm sure the ladies could hear it in their in-ears too.  Although they held their composure, the ladies reacted to it several times (you could see it in their faces and they even turned their heads a few times to see what was happening back there). Whether it was a safety concern and/or a distraction, the crew ended up removing the curtains part way through the second act as the show continued. By the time Mairead performed County Down, the curtains were fully removed. That exposed more of the rock behind the stage, which was being lit by colored floodlights. In my opinion, the removal of the curtains actually added to the experience in that unique venue.

During the show, it started to drizzle, but only lightly and briefly. I had the rain poncho in my hands several times ready to toss it on should the sky have decided to cut loose. It got quite chilly after the sun set, especially with the strong wind, though it still wasn't quite as cold as those two nights at Johnstown Castle.

Mairead and Megan's rendition of Over the Rainbow is one of my all-time favourite duets in Celtic Woman. It was ironic that as they were singing that song, a menacing storm cloud was creeping ever closer to the venue. I hadn't looked at a recent weather report, so I didn't know exactly where the storm was headed. From the direction of the wind at ground level, there was a chance it was headed our way. From my seat, I could see flashes of lightning and hear thunder but couldn't tell how close it was. It seemed closer than it was and like a storm was immanent. The threat of weather wiping out the ending of the show actually became a distraction for the last 30 minutes or so of the performance.

While Red Rocks ended up being mostly spared the weather, nearby Denver was hit with large hail and a dramatic thunderstorm, one that was visible more vividly from the upper seats at Red Rocks. At least 10 tornadoes had descended in north east Colorado that day. But at Red Rocks, luck had been on our side.

Some people described the crowd at Red Rocks as amazing. While it was better than the other audiences I've been a part of this year, I was expecting 9000 people to be a bit louder. Maybe it was just me but I was a little disappointed in the audience as a whole. I think because I was sitting off to the side and close to a speaker, the sound from the speaker was overpowering the sound coming back from the crowd. Still, at times when I looked around, it seemed like the crowd overall was about as engaged as a typical Ancient Land tour audience. Perhaps there were more enthusiastic pockets of fans towards the center of the rows than there were around the wings.

Like the earlier audiences in the tour, they clapped along enthusiastically to the instrumental songs. For the band and dancers, the crowd gave a "thunderous rapturous applause," appropriately complimenting the dramatic secondary show in the sky over Denver. I've always been a bit confused how the the band gets a bigger pop than the ladies and their incredible voices. Maybe people are overcompensating in showing that they also appreciate the other performers on stage. Maybe most of the audience these days is more into the fun, energetic songs than the sublime and soothing vocal harmony. Personally, I think the ladies deserve at least that same level of enthusiasm from the audience. Those ladies are, after all, the reason that most of us go to the shows and they are four inconceivably gifted performers.

Don't get me wrong, the audience was very appreciative, but I just wish the crowd had been even more animated. Come on people, do we need Caoimhe (pronounced like Kee+va or key+va) to come back out on stage and motivate us like at the DVD recording?  :D ;D

I rarely stand up after practically every song, but on that night, I couldn't help it. I know there are singers out there that have ludicrously impressive range, power, and control over their voices. But for all those singers and their talents, none of them will ever make me feel like these ladies do. I just wish everyone would show them as much love as I feel.

The set list for the show at Red Rocks was almost the same as the set list for the recent shows on the tour, except that they did not perform Going Home at Red Rocks. I could only speculate why that song was omitted. Whatever the reason, they went straight from Bean Phaidin to The Kesh Inn.

Although the crowd seemed underwhelming to me at times, the girls seemed to be impressed by it. The crowd didn't redeem themselves in my mind until the end of the show. After The Kesh Inn, almost everyone in the venue was on their feet and delivered wave after wave of applause for several minutes. The girls were clearly overwhelmed by that reaction. Mairead's voice was shaking from all the emotion, but she had the strength and composure to power through it. I love those moments when she shows her heart on stage. She told us that reactions like the one they just received were what performers lived for and that this had been perhaps the most amazing show of her career. Megan was in tears and told the audience that it had been the greatest night of her life. Those few minutes after The Kesh Inn were certainly the most special moment I have ever experienced at a concert. In spite of my earlier impression of the audience, I had never been more proud to be part of a crowd than I was near the end of the show at Red Rocks.

Mairead, still wearing her heart in front of us, introduced the Parting Glass, a tribute to Celtic Woman co-founder Dave Kavanagh. The time had come for the final song of the North American leg of Ancient Land tour, the best tour I have ever seen. Before the show, Dee had procured for some of us a set of plastic cups and little battery powered candles to place inside them. During the song, we illuminated the artificial candles. Celtic Woman has brought so much light into all our lives. For Dave Kavanagh and his vision, for the girls and their incredible tour, we raised to them our glasses of parting, filled with light.


Post-Show

After the show, most of us from the fan gathering (and a few extra people) went down to wait by the buses in the hopes of thanking the girls one more time. We waited for quite a while beyond a roped off area surrounding the parking lot where the buses were waiting. A van eventually came down into the parking lot. Some of the performers, including Carl, exited the vehicle, but the girls were not. Almost immediately, the security guard came over to us and told us to us (rather rudely) that the park was closed and we needed to leave now. Carl and some of the others came over to us anyways, quickly signed a few things, and took some photos. We didn't get to tell the girls in person how amazing that show had been, but I think they knew.

Some of us reconvened at the post-show fan gathering at Denny's before we parted ways until, one day, Celtic Woman reunites us.


Wrap-up

The road that led to that show at Red Rocks was long and winding, but the experience was worth every moment of planning and worrying. I honestly think it was the most amazing concert I have ever attended. I thought it was even better than the DVD recordings at Johnstown Castle! By Red Rocks, the ladies had been perfecting the songs from Ancient Land for the entire tour. All the new arrangements they added for the tour since the castle special, including Bean Phaidin and Newgrange, were outstanding! Still, because of where I was sitting and a few other distractions (including the storm), I don't think I got to fully enjoy the Red Rocks experience. The only way to rectify that will be for me to return one day to see my favourite ladies perform there again! There's no other venue like Red Rocks and there is no other group as special as Celtic Woman.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2019, 11:04:14 PM by CWazyTom » Logged
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VegasDavid
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« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2019, 09:52:45 PM »

Nice write-up, Tom!  I'm glad you felt like giving standing ovations at this one, because I felt like it too and it was great to have someone to stand with.

--David
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« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2019, 01:05:40 PM »

Red Rocks is one of, if not the, most iconic venue in the World.   It's hard to imagine walking out on stage with over 9000 people looking at you.  For some of the performers, this may have been the biggest audience they have ever been in front of.
 And, you are correct, the ovation at the end of the Kesh Inn was amazing.  I think if it wasn't quite so cold, we may have seen an encore.  Two years ago, they did one. (Haven't Found What I'm Looking For).

I'd love to see the photo of the band/chorus they took at the end with the audience in the background.  You could tell they were having a blast.

I feel your pain about PBS.  The whole M&G thing has been a problem for a couple years now.


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« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2019, 01:45:20 PM »

I'd love to see the photo of the band/chorus they took at the end with the audience in the background.  You could tell they were having a blast.

Yes, that was a fun moment!  You can find a zoomed-in version on Tommy Buckley's Instagram feed here:

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bx_5oDhlZS9/
(Click the right arrow a few times to find it.)

I saw it show up in a bunch of Instagram stories too, so maybe someone has a more zoomed out version.
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« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2019, 11:31:37 PM »

I missed commenting on this one before.  Wonderful write-up Tom!  I'm glad you had such an awesome birthday and really enjoyed hanging out with you at Red Rocks and in Denver! 😃
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« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2019, 11:43:07 PM »

My wife and I have been to many shows.  Although we have always enjoyed all of them, some are more "epic" than others.   The Red Rocks show this year was truly one of the best shows we have seen. 

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« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2019, 11:21:45 AM »

My wife and I have been to many shows.  Although we have always enjoyed all of them, some are more "epic" than others.   The Red Rocks show this year was truly one of the best shows we have seen.

Agreed, it was so amazing!
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