"To stand up on stage alone with an acoustic guitar requires bravery bordering on heroism. Bordering on insanity."
In this case, a double dose.
Irishmen Ryan Kelly and Neil Byrne, both of Celtic Thunder fame, kicked off the Winter 2012 edition of their popular Acoustic by Candlelight duo tour with a show at Kell's Irish Pub in Seattle last night. Both seasoned musicians, the two took to the stage with guitars in hand to perform the first song of the night, "Wagon Wheel," featuring a great guitar solo from Neil.
Watching Neil play guitar might possibly be worth the price of admission alone. It is mesmerizing to watch his fingers fly along the strings, such amazing talent. Not to be outdone, Ryan takes a "the more, the better" approach with a constant changing of instruments: guitar, tambourine, whistle. Both performers have beautiful voices on their own, very fitting for the acoustic stage. But, their vocal blend is particularly pleasing, harmonies tumbling over one other in succession.
Neil's performance of "California Dreamin'" is soft and thoughtful with a really nice groove to it. His popular "Brown-Eyed Girl" had the crowd smiling, clapping, and singing along. Ryan sang "Broken Things" from his debut solo album, In Time. With simple acoustic accompaniment and heart-stirring vocals, this song was perfect. To round out the first act, he performed a soft version of his "Black is the Colour," a gentler and more romantic treatment from what Celtic Thunder fans might be used to hearing from him.
Between the individual solo songs, the crowd was treated to a number of duo numbers, most often taking the form of alternated solo verses and intimately harmonized choruses. Stockton Wing's "Beautiful Affair" was very pretty with a light tough, while "Don't Go" had a real Simon and Garfunkel feel to it. Good stuff! Celtic Thunder fans were more than appeased with a veritable medley of "Whiskey in the Jar," "Raggle Taggle Gypsy," and "500 Miles," followed later by the funny "Seven Drunken Nights." Much laughter filled the room as Ryan and Neil took up parts that would normally belong to the other Celtic Thunder cast and kicked up the humor factor to maximum volume.
One of the most beautiful sets of the night came when Ryan began with Green Fields of France, a song that had been recorded for Celtic Thunder but never performed live. His treatment of the song was poignant and beautiful. It segued seamlessly into Neil's "Rose of Allendale," which was equally amazing and featured harmonies that could literally your breath away.
As a special treat, former Celtic Thunder member Damian McGinty stopped by for the evening and performed a lovely "Home." It was heartwarming to see him grace the stage!
By the time the evening ended, nearly three hours of music, laughter, story, and song had passed. Surely an enjoyable experience for all in attendance!