Knoxville Civic Auditorium
April 13th, 2010
Front row, center
Excitement was mounting to its fullest, and the show hadn't even started yet. I beheld the new set, which was much like the old set, save for it being more open around the middle and the coloration was that of the Songs From the Heart design. I sat in my front row seat, 3 seats from the center aisle. Just knowing what was about to happen made my heart race to the point where it felt like it was aching to burst out of my chest. It didn't, so I sat there, pleasantly impatient for the show to begin. I kept looking back, thinking in my head, Am I really in the front row of a Celtic Woman concert? But not a moment later, the lights dimmed and all went quiet.
Our wonderful drummers, Ray and Nicky, got on top of their sets. I waved in Ray's direction, and he waved back at me before gesturing to everyone in the audience to start applauding. Enter our beloved girls, gently silhouetted against the brightly colored set pieces, carrying candles at their stomach level. I picked out each individual and delightfully opened my heart to what was about to happen. Soft, gentle, dulcet tones from them in the beautiful Irish language. I was told by the N and J of NJ next to me to listen carefully to the lyrics, so I did. At first, the Irish made no sense to me, but I was about to be pleasantly surprised at what the beautifully harmonized chorus sang:
"Nil s'en la nil la gra"
The entire chorus of Nil S'en La was sung in a slow, beautifully arranged piece...The slowness wasn't about to last long.
Cue the drums and the chorus, and Mairead's beautiful fiddle, having appeared from behind the set. The light show was amazing, and at some point in time during the song, the girls came to the edge of the stage. Being right in front and below them, having them singing in the most beautiful voices on the planet was such an awe-inspiring experience that it shook me to my very core. Of course, I was singing along and grinning from ear to ear in my seat. It wasn't very hard for any of the girls to spot me. Both Lisa and Chloe immediately brightened when I met eyes with them. As Mairead came to my spot on the stage, I held up my "Fiddler Crossing" sign to which she grinned widely. As the song was coming to an end, I met eyes with Chloe and received a (relatively) unprovoked wink from her. Lord knows it wouldn't be the last!
Lisa takes a microphone and begins Fields of Gold. I must pause and say how it felt to have The Voice singing not more than a few feet from me. It felt so personal, like she was singing directly to me, like everything around me could just drift away, and it was just me and her. Several times during the songs, she'd look and smile my way, and a few times I had to look away to keep myself from crying. The song was beautifully sung as per usual.
Enter The Pixie. Oh my goodness, how does she do it? Coasts of Galicia never sounded better! This was truly the most energetic I have ever seen Mairead in concert. Dashing across the stage and playing the uplifting and ever so lively song was like being fed liquid happiness. When she stopped to observe the audience on my side, I held up my sign again, to which she grinned widely. Amazing. Unbelievable. What more can I say?
Out comes the breathtaking Chloe, who made a very bubbly introduction, indeed. She said, "We love being here in Knoxville, Tennessee. We really think that we should just stay here. We don't want to leave the beautiful rivers and mountains and the warm welcomes we receive. I mean that truly from the bottom of my heart. It's such an honor to say that this is our 16th visit to Tennessee in the entire history of Celtic Woman. We have been to so many places, but there ain't anything like a Tennessee welcome, am I right?" Massive applause and affirmations. "I must say, that we loved our visit to the Market Square with all the food and people there, and I have to say that one of us really enjoyed the bars on the square. I won't say who!" Massive laughter. Then she began to tell the story about when she first went to Galway Bay in Ireland, and how truly beautiful it was. She said she realized the true meaning behind the song she was singing, which gave the song a very personal atmosphere as she sang it beautifully. I had liked the song alright from the DVD, but this rendition of it really made a difference - I had more insight into the power and meaning of the song.
A new arrangement to a classic Celtic Woman song - Orinoco Flow! The lights dimmed, save for some ambient lights across the mini curtains and backdrop. The sound of rain and thunder arose. Then softly from the speakers:
"Sail away! Sail away! Sail away!"
Back to singing along for me! I must say that with the thunderous drums which echoed in my heart, and the alive feeling of the song being sung came a realization of how much more fun and enjoyment I was getting out of this than at any rock concert I had ever been to. Celtic Woman had always been my favorite musical group, but I realized that even after seeing the likes of The Who live in concert, Celtic Woman could wow, inspire, and astound me to no end and to a level no other group could achieve. Many smiles from the girls. Alex's expression to me said, "Sing out! Let me hear you!" Winks from...oh, wait a second! -does the Orinoco wave-...Winks from Chloe and Lisa. Lynn was a little harder to interact with, but I'm guessing it's because she's generally a shy type of person. All of that would change later! AMAZING song!
My Lagan Love sung by the Lovely Lynn. Beautiful as always! The chorus harmonized so perfectly and so well. This is the song that really made me love Lynn's voice and talent. Incredible!
The New Ground / Isle of Hope was next. Amazing as always. As the girls walked out to the edge of the stage, I got different looks from all of the girls, which matched the different look I was giving to them. The previous interactions had been during the lively and joyous songs, but this song was longing, and heartfelt, and such were the expressions from the girls. I can truly feel the power and meaning of the song just by watching them sing it. Outstanding!
Enter Alex. "Good evening, everyone! As Chloe said, we had our day off yesterday, and this is the first time since I've been in the show that we didn't have rain this morning! Last time, I thought I brought the Irish weather with me, because we'd be looking out the hotel window and see the beautiful mountains and lovely city, and then rain would be coming down." Laughter and applause. Alex then spoke about how the next song she was gonna sing, the previously unheard by me "My Heart Was Home Again," was one of the songs picked for the theme of Songs from the Heart. In this song, I witnessed the incredible range and depth of Alex's voice and emotion. It was as if she personally wrote the song and was singing it from the soul (or the Heart, as it were). Incredible! Breathtaking!
Granuaile's Dance was breathtaking as always. It made me realize with a chuckle how many violin bows Mairead must go through in touring. Loved every second of it! Perhaps my favorite Mairead solo!
Goodnight My Angel...oh my gosh! I wish I could have had them singing this song to me when I was little. The sweetest lullaby sung by the sweetest girls ever! Loved it! Loved it!
Danny Boy was incredible, emotional as always. I must pause and say at this point that my friend who came with me said he cried a little during this song and said that it was the most beautiful rendition of the song he had ever heard. Frankly, I don't blame him!
Mo Ghile Mear - SO HAPPY they brought this back! A song that begs my body to move! It was as incredible as I remember! Is anyone else with me when I say that the drums are so powerful and amazing in concert? I got many smiles and winks again. I finally caught eyes with Lynn, and smiled up at her, and was delighted to see her smile ever so brightly back at me! I'm complete now! But the creme de la creme of the first act came after the song. The girls got a standing ovation, to which they bowed and mouthed their thank you's. I was blowing kisses to all of them, and clapping joyously to them. As the girls were turning to leave, Chloe bent down, looked me right in the eyes, and blew me a kiss! Be still my beating heart!
Intermission - Talked to my friends who came but were sitting in different parts of the auditorium. We all agreed how epic the concert was already. It was not about to let up, either!
The beginning of The Call arose from drum and speaker. Singing along was a joy and pleasure. Another wink from Chloe, and I think my heart grew wings at that moment. Smiles and grins all around. Amazing song!
Amazing Grace - holy cannoli! This song is SO much more emotional in concert than it is watching on a TV screen! Bagpipes were impeccable. I was absolutely blown away by it. Can't get over how moving and emotional the song made the crowd. Thunderous applause and cheers.
Out comes Lynn, who spoke slightly quieter than her cohorts. "Hello. I don't think you guys enjoyed that song very much." Laughter. "We're very happy to be here. This next song is sung in the Irish language. It's a love song sung by a woman who is trying to decide between two men, and as she should she decides to compare them with two pieces of seaweed." Laughter. As Ray and Nicky came out playing their bodhrans, she said, "I like to think of these two as pieces of seaweed." Huge laughter. The song was amazing. It's easy to notice how fundamentally different Lynn and Meav's voices are. Meav sings in a more classical way of inflection and pronunciation whereas Lynn sings with a more pop and free-moving type of way. Both are incredible versions of Dulaman, and I was very impressed and delighted by Lynn's rendition.
You'll Be In My Heart. This song has a special meaning to me, because it's a very motherly song, and I have a very close bond with my own mother, so it struck a deep chord with me. I could definitely tell that Alex was previously an actress on stage. Her gestures, expressions, and vocal inflections told the story of the song, which made it all the more powerful. Blown away. Absolutely gorgeous.
The two Songs from the Heart - Walking the Night (sung by Alex and Lynn) and Give Me Your Hand (sung by all with Mairead and Nicky) - were INCREDIBLE! I audibly said the word "Wow!" after the songs were over. Such a fun duo of songs, during which I received many smiles and grins.
Lisa grabs a microphone again. She heavily complimented our city and the reception we were giving the girls, and then began The Moon's a Harsh Mistress. Ho...ly...Toledo! Just when I thought this woman couldn't astound me anymore, she DID and then some! She sang it so beautifully, and her voice was rich with power and heart. Heavy, thunderous applause.
I cannot express the full extent of my love for Chloe's rendition of When You Believe. It's just so awe-inspiring and amazing. Her voice has grown so much, and she was just...WOW!!!!!!!!!! Loved it!
Non C'e Piu. What more can I say? Their harmonies are second to none! Even better than the DVD!
Mairead then stood in front and began to greet the audience. However, she was drowned out by the thunderous applause and standing ovation. She took a moment, and all the girls mouthed their thanks and gratitude. When the applause finally stopped, Mairead introduced You Raise Me Up, and told us that the song meant so much to them since the beginning of Celtic Woman. Cannot express how wonderful it was to be singing You Raise Me Up along with the girls onstage. Many smiles, grins, and winks from all around. At the end of the song, another standing ovation. Massive applause, and I turned towards Lisa and caught her eyes. I blew a kiss to her, and happily received one back from her! Carry me to Heaven, I'm ready! There's no amount of words or gestures that could express how much gratitude and admiration I had for these 5 girls from the Emerald Isle.
Finale - A longer arrangement than what was on the DVD. I've never seen such a joyous and uplifting finale before! I held up my two signs (the Fiddler Crossing and Lisa's Place) and joined the adoring crowed in the standing ovation.
Encore - SPANISH LADY! We were heartily encouraged from Chloe to make sure we were on our feet, singing along and doing whatever we felt moved to do during the song. No need to tell me twice! I have to pause and say at this point, that my "singing along" had merely been very emotive lip-syncing. However, towards the end of Spanish Lady, Chloe looked me in the eyes all grins as she put...hold on, -Spanish Lady shoulder shrugs-...as she put her cupped hand to her ear in a gesture of "Let me hear you!" I subsequently put both my cupped hands to my mouth and sang out to her, not that anyone but myself and perhaps a few next to me could hear over the music. The gesture did the trick. She flashed her bubbly grin which was shared by Lisa next to her. Massively appreciative grins from Lynn and Alex. Time for the ladies to exit. They headed to the back of the set before turning around and giving one last wave to the audience. Catching Alex's eyes, I blew a kiss at her, and received one back! Lisa, Chloe, AND Alex!!! I can't fathom just how lucky I was, but the feeling in my heart tells all about how it made me feel!
Meet and Greet
We gathered at the same place as last time - to the right of the stage. After a few minutes, we were asked to make a line, in which I purposefully put myself last in. I didn't want to feel rushed as I was talking to whoever it was gonna be. The meet and greet coordinator gathered our attention. "Good evening, everyone. The two performers you will be meeting are Lisa and Chloe!"
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Captain has activated the fasten seat-belts sign!
This would be the third time I met Chloe and the second time I met Lisa! I couldn't believe my luck! I was so excited and the nerves started to kick in overdrive. I had a slight shake in my right hand, which made it hard for me to drink from my bottle of water. Out they came, The Voice and The Angel. As the minutes ticked past, I was constantly going over in my head what I was going to say, and began arranging the items to be autographed.
The moment finally came.
Lisa's beautiful eyes met mine.
We have just lost cabin pressure.
"So good to see you! How are you?!" Handshake. From the moment I shook her hands, my nerves for the most part went away, allowing me to speak clearly and comfortably with them, which was a total surprise to me, because I suspected the total opposite occurrence!
"Dia dhuit, mo cara Lisa!" (Hello, my dear friend Lisa)
Bright smile. "Very impressive! Much better than my Irish!" I laughed.
I had printed out a list of people from my Irish heritage on my paternal grandmother's side. I gingerly pulled it out to show her.
"Lisa, do you remember the last time we spoke I told you that I was researching my Irish heritage?"
"Yes, I do!"
"Well, here's the chronological list of all the Irish ancestors I have found on my paternal grandmother's side. Check out the first birth date. The year 1030."
"Wow! That's amazing! Very impressive." She then went down and read every name on the list, which had 16 names on it, total. She noted a few names on the list, "I have some neighbors who are Pollocks."
"Lisa, your music has meant so much to me, and truly has a healing power for me, and in that way the girls of Celtic Woman have become like my extended family, so I was hoping you would sign this list."
"Awww! Thank you! Of course I would!" She looked down. "Do you want me to put my birth date?"
I realized that a birth date may have been a sensitive piece of information, so I said reassuringly, "Put whatever you feel like you want to put on there."
It was time to meet Chloe, but as I was the last in line, I had a conversation between the two of them simultaneously.
Chloe: Hi, Taylor! So good to see you!
Me: Dia dhuit, mo cara Chloe!
Chloe: How are you doing?
Me: Oh...just trying to survive school.
Chloe: Aww! Well, you'll be alright!
Lisa: You're almost done, right?
Me: Almost done, but still...
Chloe: I love seeing you down there, you're smiling so much and singing along with us!
Me: Thank you so much!
-I show her the list-
Me: This is a list of my Irish ancestry. All the way from the year 1030.
Chloe: Wow! How cool! -reading the list- O'Brien, Fitzmaurice, Fitzgerald, you can't get much more Irish than that!
Me: Oh, I know!
Lisa: -pointing to the list- And Pollock! I have neighbors who are Pollocks!
Lisa and Chloe have a brief discussion on what I believe was specifically who the Pollocks were. When they were done...
Me: Lisa, didn't you have neighbors who were Gibsons?
Lisa: Yep! I remember telling you that last time!
Chloe: Is Gibson your second name?
Lisa: It is!
(I must say that it's an honor to have Lisa answer a question about my last name for me)
Chloe: Oh, that's cool! Did you enjoy the new show?
Me: I LOVED the show! It was incredible! Though I must confess -turning to Lisa- I did miss the Voice! I absolutely adored the Moon's a Harsh Mistress, and you sing it amazingly, but The Voice is your signature!
Chloe: Yes, the Voice is amazing!
Lisa: Yes, I miss the Voice as well. But, you know, we've been doing it for so long, I guess it's time to try something new.
Me: That's understandable.
Lisa: But I'm glad you like both songs! It means a lot!
Me: I love them!
Lisa: Well it was so good to see you! Are you coming to anymore shows?
Me: Well, Knoxville will be a yearly thing.
Chloe: Oh good, so we'll see you next time we're here!
Me: I'll be here! And it was so good to see ya'll!
Chloe and Lisa: You, too!
As they were leaving I said, "Le gra," which is Irish for "with love," to which Chloe grinned and giggled. Then they were gone.
After my friend and I went out the front door, I had to sit down to collect myself. My heart was beating triple time and I had to settle down. I was feeling a mixture of so much emotion.
I was elated to have:
seen Celtic Woman from the front row
interacted so much with the girls onstage, including blown kisses and winks
met Lisa and Chloe for the second and third time, respectively
Lisa AND Chloe remember me by name
had such a wonderful conversation with the two of them
had them express their genuine interest and amazement at my Irish ancestry
Even with all this elation, however, I was still, in the back of my mind, sad that the concert was over. Looking forward to a Celtic Woman concert is one thing that keeps me going - especially with school. I could conceivably go to a Chattanooga show on the next tour, but from what I've heard, tickets/M+G are pretty expensive in my hometown. Nashville is DEFINITELY out of the question - WAY too expensive! Therefore, most likely I'll have to wait an entire year before I can see them in concert again.
However, that fact is not gonna get me down NOW! JOIN ME ON CELTIC CLOUD NINE! SHOW YOUR LOVE FOR CELTIC WOMAN WHEREVER YOU GO!
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to bed and watching the SFTH DVD while I'm at it!
EDIT: I felt like this part was important to write, so here it is!
The Morning After
Excitement and elation had fueled my desire to stay awake and just gush the night away about Celtic Woman, but my body's desire to sleep soon overpowered me at some hour in the early morning. Dreams of the show delighted my subconscious. Waking up had no shortage of the same elation and excitement from last night - a state of being I like to call Celtic Cloud Nine. It was wonderful to read all the sweet and genuine responses to my show review, and I realized that there are probably some people on this forum who have never gone to a Celtic Woman show, and perhaps would like to know the experience of seeing them, and the experience is not complete without an account of what happens after the show.
A mixture of emotions.
Elation - The memories of the show, the interaction with the girls, the feeling of the drums, the feeling of the music tickling my ears, the joy of meeting Chloe and Lisa again and the conversations there are still fresh in my mind. I have probably found no joy in this world that tops the depth of emotional completeness than my experiences with Celtic Woman, and it probably won't be topped until the day comes, a decade or so from now, that I start my own family, and even then, I'll still be bringing my family to the show. History of Tokyo, my worst class, could do nothing to dampen my mood today. I just sat in class, hearing Nil S'en La, Orinoco Flow, When You Believe, and The Moon's A Harsh Mistress echo in my ears. During a pause in the lecture, I wrote 5 words in the cubby hole below the surface of my desk:
At one point in the class, I even began snapping to the lines of "Fill the glasses one more time and never heed the empty bottle! Turn the water into wine and turn the party up full throttle!" Luckily, I hadn't snapped loudly, and I realized my actions as quickly as I had committed them, so I passed it off like it was a nervous twitch of some type. It was hard, though. I still had the concert fully in my mind, and wanted nothing more (other than to go back and see it again) than to move to the music playing in my head. Luckily, my next class was canceled, and I have my dorm room ALL to myself!
Bittersweetness - I'm so thankful I got to go, however I genuinely miss the girls. The space between concerts feels like being away from close family members for a long period of time, and when I finally go to the concerts, it's like the joy of being reunited with the dearest of family members, whom you haven't seen in ages. It's an agonizing feeling that I'll most likely have to wait a year to see them again. My ultimate dream would be to somehow get a job doing anything for Celtic Woman, whether it's singing in the choir or just moving stuff back and forth from the stage to the touring bus...but then again, being in the front row of their show is a unique experience that even the choir doesn't get. Hmm. Maybe if I could be a "professional audience member" and attend all of their shows...
Lisa - my Irish mother away from my mother (meaning often times that I listen to her lullaby songs before I head to bed), further solidified by her part in "Goodnight My Angel." Can't express the wealth of gratitude and admiration I have for her and what she's done for me. I thoroughly believe that she is like an angel of healing in her voice, her personality, and her generosity. Go rabh maith agat (Thank You) seems totally inadequate. The Voice is so astounding to see and hear sing, but to get a look at her personality through ever so friendly conversation is an experience to treasure. Down to earth, witty, and absolutely breathtaking personality.
Chloe - my best Irish friend, at least that's how it always feels when I meet her. Even though she's older than me by a only a few months, listening to her first recording of "When You Believe" on her first solo album and then watching her sing it now all grown up makes me well up inside. I adore her personality with her exuberance and bubbliness and wit. I have yet to meet someone in my community who can match her.
Mairead - I honestly think they should study Mairead for an alternate source of energy. The energy she pours out could power the city of New York for a lifetime! Whether it's her dizzying solos of Granuaile's Dance, or her moving "Last Rose Fantasia," or her funny motions during "The Mason's Apron," there's no shortage of being astounded and amazed by her. If one ever needs a smile, all they must do is watch Mairead.
Alex - Amazingly talented, and exceptionally good at portraying emotion and feeling in her songs. What an awesome addition to Celtic Woman! I love her "You'll Be In My Heart," and watching her in behind the scenes footage is always sure to bring me a smile and sometimes a laugh (rabbit joke, anyone?).
Lynn - Beautifully breathy voice! She can be somewhat of an enigma. When she's not singing, it's been told that she can be very quiet, yet her singing fills the auditorium, and watching her behind the scenes show dramatic bursts of personality and messages from her heart of gold. And of course (as per being Irish), she's gorgeous, and I absolutely love her smile!
I feel the urge to write out all of my memories and experiences, because, unfortunately, pictures aren't allowed at the meet and greets, so I don't have the thousand word-worthy photographs to remember these by. However, I have the autographs, the blown kisses, and the smiles to cherish forever.