It's been a year since I've seen a Celtic Thunder show. It's been a year since I've seen the Celtic Thunder players in any performance of any kind. And it's been a bit of a hard year.
We lost one of my most beloved singers, George, of course. And, over the year, I've walked a path of frustration. I've felt jaded... incredibly jaded... and that's upset me a lot. I haven't wanted to feel that way, but I haven't seemed to be able to shake it either. And as the year has gone on, I've felt myself grow unhappier and unhappier with a show that I have always loved so much.
Last night, I attended Celtic Thunder's Holiday symphony show that they are currently touring across the eastern half of the country. And, as I walked into the theater, I honestly hoped that seeing them would be the antidote I needed to fall in love again.
I loved the show. I truly did. Simply put, it made me very happy. I had forgotten how much I love them, and last night reminded me. In last year's tour, Ryan Kelly sung the song House of the Rising Sun. It ends with this killer finish, and I can remember last year leaning further and further forward in my seat as the song went on, knowing that that ending was coming... literally on the edge of my seat with anticipation. I spent pretty much the entire night like that last night.
The night was a lovely collection of fun and somber... sometimes so funny and simply fun, sometimes poignantly serious and beautifully arranged. It was a perfect combination.. one second taking your breath away, the next making you laugh and ramping up the energy of the room.
I kind of fell a little bit in love with Neil Byrne last night. Truth and more on that later... Ever since the latest Christmas CD was released last year, I've really liked his version of Mary, Did You Know? I've just really enjoyed it, and watching him perform it last night was a delight. He gets better dramatically every time I see him, and I love seeing that so much.
Of course the talk of the fall has been newcomer Emmett O'Hanlon, and deservedly so. He really has a beautiful rich voice and brings a bit of sweetness and twinkle with him into the mix. His delivery of O Holy Night seems to garner him a standing ovation every night - which he still takes in with a touch of the overwhelmed. I look forward to seeing more of him. I really do.
His duet of Winter Wonderland with Colm Keegan was very funny, and was the first good dash of humor to the evening. It was really cute and the over-the-top hamming made me laugh a lot. You can't help but love it.
But where the night shone the most for me was the sometimes-beautiful, sometimes-plain-fun ensemble songs. Oh, what a joy and what a beauty some of those arrangements were. Dave Munro, your work is gorgeous.
Fairytale of New York, the Christmas medley, and Most Wonderful Time of the Year were all songs that had me laughing, clapping along, and just plain enjoying myself. These were fun and really just brought me such joy. But, oh... Silent Night and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. I have always loved CT's Silent Night -- it's beautiful and does not disappoint in any way. But it's Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas that I really love the most. I am just so in love with this arrangement, and these wonderful singers perform it seamlessly and with such beauty. The way the melody floats so easily from soloist to soloist.... It is perfect. It is just perfect.
But Ireland's Call... Boys, just cause it's Christmas and holy doesn't mean you can't twirl. What the what?
If you have the chance, go see it. Please go see it. They are wonderful and I left that theater very happy that I flew three hours on Thanksgiving weekend to take them in.
Now... I need to go back to Neil...
Neil... years ago, when you weren't a principal singer yet and you played guitar in the band, you used to bring delight to my heart. Do you remember when we used to sometimes bring signs to the show? We couldn't always count on the guy they were intended for to even notice them. But we could always count on you. I can remember always looking at you and you would smile that sweet smile of yours and nod so encouragingly. It was a simple thing that meant a lot.
Last night, I needed your smile. I needed to remember so many things about why I love coming. You smiled and nodded so much at me last night that my heart was filled clear up to the top with delight, I walked into that theater last night, needing to remember why I fell in love with Celtic Thunder. And really, it was a lot in thanks to you that I was able to remember. It's a simple thing that didn't really cost you anything...
But it meant much to me. So thank you. You gave me a gift last night. Thank you.