Monday, December 19, 2011

My Thoughts on CT: Christmas

I once read an article, geared toward musicians, that said superfans could be an incredible asset-- they will fervently support you, promote you, fight for you, show up at any event you ask them to attend, buy every overpriced piece of merchandise you provide for sale-- but that they are also the fans that expect the most from you.  I can see how that's true.

I had the opportunity this past weekend to see Celtic Thunder's Christmas show in Texas. I'd never been to one of their Christmas shows before-- partly because they usually aren't scheduled for the West Coast due to difficult logistics, but also because I really haven't cared to. Out of all the products Celtic Thunder has released, the Christmas DVD is my least favorite by far. This is perhaps slightly unfair as I think my dislike centers around my reactions to just two songs.

Celtic Thunder on QVC
The first time I heard anything from the Christmas album was when the guys were on QVC hawking the CD's release (I know... "living the dream, Danny!"). They sang "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." Musically, it was fine. But... I love these guys. I may joke around about them and tease about them being an Irish boyband. But, in truth, I like them a lot, I respect their talent, and I want to see them shine. So when the delivery of said song was just about the cheesiest thing I'd ever seen, I was ticked. Really really angry. Even now, I'm not entirely sure why. The strength of my own reaction surprised me and caught me off-guard. But, the feeling never really faded.

The second song that contributed to my "Christmas" bias was "Baby, It's Cold Outside." Again, musically, there isn't anything wrong with it.  Sung by Ryan and Charley Bird (who I like quite a lot), the duet is flirty and sometimes-smouldering-- basically what we've come to expect out of Ryan. But, when it is staged, it's sung by Ryan and mimed by whatever girl from the band is playing his love interest. I've been an involved fan for a long time, and I'm well aware of the sometimes-quiet, sometimes-not suspicions of lip-syncing that have followed Celtic Thunder since their debut. And, to be honest, I wasn't too happy that we now had a song that fanned the flame of those suspicions. To top it off, Ryan was my favorite-- so for the song that made me so irritated to be one of his solos just made me grumpy.

So there you have the basis for my "Christmas show" prejudice. Unreasonable to let a mere two songs turn me off from an entire production? Well, that's probably true.  If you said that Celtic Thunder was performing a  Christmas show in your area and asked if I thought you should go, I would have exuberantly (and honestly) told you, "YES!!"  And the show I saw would have been the one you enjoyed (more or less... they've changed the setlist this year more often than I change underwear).

The show was split into two acts-- the Christmas section pre-intermission and then a funky mix of songs from their Heritage and soon-to-be-released Voyage CDs.

So the Christmas section--
Christmas 1915-- I have always loved this song. I was listening to their "original version" the other day and was reminded of what a beautiful vocal arrangement it was. This was the first time I'd heard it done since Paul and Damian were replaced with Emmet and Neil. It was just as beautiful and haunting.  Gorgeous.

Keith Harkin Christmas DVD
Last Christmas and All I Want for Christmas is You-- Both Keith solos, and I really liked both of them. I feel like Keith somehow seemed to take on more of an engaged role this year.  He seems more connected, more on fire, more invested.  He's really grown a lot and shines with a new energy that is so encouraging. He's become VERY fun to watch perform.

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day-- I have probably said this before, but George is just the bomb. I love to watch him on fun, energetic songs like this.  He is so engaging on stage, and it makes me grin from ear to ear. He makes me happy!

Let It Snow-- This used to be Ryan's song, now performed by Emmet.  Oh, I'll be honest, I really would have rather had Ryan sing this than "Baby, It's Cold Outside."  I like his understated-sexy style on it.  But, I also really like Emmet and am very happy with his addition to the cast.  His version was different from what I was accustomed to, but he did a really great job with it.  He's adorableness personified.

Most Wonderful Time-- Ok, I will say that it was less cheesy than when I saw it on QVC before, I'll give them that.  But still cheesy, and I don't like it when my classy boys are cheesy.

Baby, It's Cold Outside-- Still makes me grumpy. I'm sorry, Ryan, I tried. I know you're singing-- it just makes me grumpy and annoyed. Even those flirty smiles can't overcome it.

When You Wish Upon a Star-- I love Neil.  I think he is so sweet-- but this song always seems to go on FOREVER. We launch into another verse and I always thinks, "How many verses can this song possibly HAVE???"

Heritage/Voyage Section
Dulaman-- I love this song more every time I hear it. It's edge-of-my-seat "This is the Celtic Thunder that first stole my heart" awesomeness. Quick rhythms and enunciations, tight harmonies, Heartland-style determinedly intense and serious facial expressions (I adore you, George.  It tickles me the way you can't let yourself look at anyone during the song lest you crack a smile.) I honestly can't wait to have a recording of this one.

7... 5 Drunken Nights-- This gets longer and funnier as the tour goes on. Very funny and well-executed, the interplay gets more involved every time I see it, and it's definitely a highlight of the night.  Love it.

Friends in Low Places Ryan Kelly
Friends in Low Places (lol in which I try to make up for hating Baby It's Cold Outside)-- I liked this the first time I saw it.  But it grows on me more and more each time. Ryan's really fun and fantastic with it.  Actually, I think I like it because he's just a bit less the "grr, I'm so sexy I'm going to bite your face off" guy and just more an awesome entertainer.  For this show, I was sitting near the rock he starts out leaning against... The view was good.  I have not historically been the biggest fan of the whole black T-shirt ensemble, I tend to like Ryan better when he's all classed-up.  But... whatever you're doing at the gym, Mr Kelly, you just keep right on doing that.  *thumbs up*

Noreen- This song is one I've come to really like. I didn't necessarily expect it to become one of my favorites, but I think it has. It's very sweet and poignant, and plays to Neil's strengths really well.

Honestly?  Nothing. All the songs sung in this half were ones I liked.  The only complaint I could make was that there were a few songs I was expecting to hear, based on past reports, that had been cut that night.  My Irish Molly and Ride On, in particular.  But, I'll live.

Despite my Christmas grumpiness, it was a great show and I was happy I made the trip.  :)


  1. They do put on an excellent show, yes indeed. And the second half was perfect. But ditto on the synching, and the criticisms that it opens them up for. This is such an outstanding group of musicians up there on stage - all 12 of them.

    *Jo's gonna have to get over this Baby thing*

    I'm happy too.

  2. LOL If he'd stop singing it, I wouldn't have to get over it! ;) Oh, I'm over it, I'm over it... Ish.


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