Don't go to Paul's concert with the expectation that this will be just one guy from Celtic Thunder, doing Celtic Thunder II. This isn't Celtic Thunder II. This is Paul Byrom as himself, and I was really interested to see what Paul's performance schtick would be on his own terms.
Longtime Celtic Thunder fans may be familiar with what happens on TV promos when they let Paul have the microphone in interviews. You're just not ever sure where it's going to go... and if the interviewer is going to be able to get it back. I'm reminded of the time he told a Denver reporter upon introducing himself, "I'm Paul Byrom... and I'm an alcoholic. Wait, wrong meeting..." Or... well, really, any time the unsuspecting PBS interviewer lets Paul talk.
You're going to get a lot of that in Paul's concert, and I mean that in a good way! Paul exudes a natural sense of humor and ease of storytelling that plays well in the concert setting. Paul said himself in a few instances, "Man, I talk a lot!"... and sure, he does. But, it's enjoyable talk, and time not wasted.
For those unfamiliar, Paul is a talented young..ish tenor from Dublin, recently transplanted to New York City. Alternately tender and powerful, Paul consistently delivers performances that are rich in beauty and emotion.
Paul began the show with Jekyll and Hyde's "This is the Moment," the title track from his latest album and a fitting start. Leaving the comfort of the familiar and diving into the next stage of his career is no small leap, and it seemed more than appropriate that this song should start out the night. Powerful and emotional, Paul delivered a stunning performance. Paul continued on through a little Broadway/West End with "Music of the Night" and "Bring Him Home," both moving and haunting.
The jacket came off, to a fair number of catcalls, as Paul slid into a run of songs from his "This is the Moment" album. A very fun number started out the section in "Rio Serenade," allowing the audience to experience a healthy dose of Paul's ability to play and have fun with a song. I particularly loved Paul's renditions of "From a Distance" and "Lullabye." Equally touching were the stories that went along with them for what moved Paul to include them on his album.
Before closing out the first act, Paul sang a couple songs from his tenure in Celtic Thunder, "She" and "Remember Me (Recuerdame)." I'll be honest. I cried when he started to sing "She." Okay fine, I cried through the whole thing. It wasn't just that the cast has been shaken up... it wasn't just that I've missed Paul in Celtic Thunder, though perhaps it is those things too. I suppose it's mostly just that he touched on some thoughts that struck my heart, and I knew to be true... and in my heart, I miss the things he spoke of.
Act II found Paul returning to the stage in Outfit #2... a stunning black suit, shiny shiny shoes, and an undone tie. My notes might possibly say "DANG! Hot sexy man in black!!" I confess I missed most of the first song due to getting Alicia resituated after the intermission... I'm pretty sure it was in another language, and I have no idea what it was... but it was pretty!
After a particularly hysterical diatribe on current popular church music, Paul sang a beautiful "Ave Maria" before a very fun "They All Laughed" from his previously released "Velvet" album. "Carrickfergus" and the obligatory "Danny Boy" filled out the Irish section of the setlist before the Goodnights.
Paul returned to the stage for an encore of his "You Raise Me Up." I will never forget the first time I heard him do this song with Celtic Thunder in... 2009? He melted my heart with unbelievable tenderness before slamming me back into my seat with pure raw power, and tonight was no different. Breathtaking.
Alicia and I both had a fantastic time... I really enjoyed seeing Paul again, and Alicia was tickled to get so much attention from him during the show. (Thanks Paul!) If you enjoy good music and slightly irreverent humor, I'd highly recommend that you take in a Paul Byrom show if you can.
A great night to wrap up my October of concerts and fun!