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Author Topic: Review: Voice Of Ireland Apr 22nd  (Read 1741 times)
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« on: April 25, 2017, 11:40AM »

This review almost didn't happen.  Even now, as I start to write this review, almost fifty-three hours after Lisa took the stage at The Fred, I am a train wreck of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion, due to limited sleep and a very hard day upon my return to work.  However, the dazzling show in Peachtree calls out to me for attention, and it certainly deserves it.

It was never a question of whether I would go to this show; the only question was how.  I had spent the last three years prating on to neighbor and fellow CW fan Lester about how great Lisa's shows were and about how she hadn't lost her touch.  When the date was announced, he finally decided that he'd drive out from Texas to Georgia for the show; I offered to ride with him.  I was not making this offer lightly.  I had driven a similar distance solo to Chloe's solo show in Duluth, Georgia, the previous September, and that had been a very arduous ride.  My reasoning was that a two-man crew would have an easier time with such a long trip than a solitary driver.  I would be proven correct more than I had expected.

We planned our trip.  We would drive more than eight hundred miles from The Woodlands, Texas, to Peachtree City, Georgia.  Non-stop, such a journey would take twelve hours but we would have about a 45-minute lunch about midway through the trip along with short stops along the way for gas and the bathroom.  I rose at 5 o'clock in the morning on Friday.  I met up with Lester at 6am, and we got to Longhorn's Steakhouse in PTC before 9pm.  Having no traffic delays, the ride had been incredibly easy as we kept each other going with non-stop banter and more than a few laughs.  The fans in my immediate area at the dinner table were Tony, Lester, Mike, Randy, Edna and her sister Crysta.  After dinner, we (Mike, Tony, Scott, Lester, Chris Hohl, and myself) adjourned to Tony's hotel room at the Hampton Inn.  We ended up talking until 1:30am, which wouldn't have been so bad except that I intended to get up early for breakfast with Lester to go to Lisa's Voice Academy so we could see it.  From previous experience I have learned that if you want to drive on Floy Farr Parkway (to get to the Academy) on the weekend, you need to do it early to avoid getting caught in traffic madness.  In any case, the pilgrimage to the Voice Academy to get your picture taken in front of the sign has become a rite of passage for all Peachtree newbies.  We even ran into Cindy working in the office; I didn't think they would even be open on the day of the show.

Later we headed to Mellow Mushroom for the main gathering.  Largest fan crowd yet for that location.  Much as I like having lots of fans at the gatherings, it was too crowded and next year we should consider another option.  Scott and Ron intended to provide musical entertainment; thank you to them for their hard work.  I will add that things did not go as planned at the gathering.  In fact, things did not go as I planned there, either.  But I was pleased to finally meet "Cwazy" Tom after interacting with him online for so long.

After freshening up at the hotel, we headed to the venue.  The Fred, as most everyone probably knows by now, is an outdoor amphitheater, with tables and chairs in the "orchestra" section, permanent seats rising back, and picnic areas along the side.  Before heading down to the tables I checked out the merchandise selection and saw the most gorgeous Chloe poster ever.  Outside and inside the venue, I had talked to fans who I hadn't seen at the Mellow Mushroom; some, like Coren, I don't get to see much of anymore after having so many mutual adventures with in times long past.  For the show I would be sitting at Tony's table with Tony, Lester, Mike, and Moscapoet in the second row of tables, stage left, with Scott to my left and Tony to my right.  Looking around, I found the Mikados, Cait and Hawk, had seats in the reserved seating area; Tony generously moved them to empty seats at his adjoining table.  

This time the trio Sinséar opened for Lisa; a guitar, a bodhran, and a fiddle.  They did a couple of truly excellent songs.  American Hope followed, as usual, and still later were followed by Scott Porter introducing the show.  Finally... LISA!!!

"The Water is Wide!!!!"  I had hoped that she would keep this in her set list, and she did; a fine and beautiful version, but somewhat subdued compared to her previous editions of this song... "Fields of Gold" and "No Frontiers" were equally lovely; I was watching Lester's reactions especially since this was his first exposure to Lisa in almost six years, and I could tell that the long drive to get here had been worth it for him; Lisa commented at one point about swallowing a fly (they were everywhere here on this night) and I had to suppress a chuckle upon remembering the large moth that became fond of Lisa at a show past... Lisa told us of an incredible friendship she had made during her tenure with Celtic Woman, and suddenly anticipation built up within me, then... YES!!!  "FOR GOOD!!!!!"  The beautiful duet, with the lyrics that transcend the two amazing women who sing them, came to life as Chloe stepped out; the part where they sang and faced each other is one of my most precious memories from the show... Chloe brought down the house, with everyone roaring with laughter, before introducing the majestic "When You Believe" which has lost none of its poignancy... Dermot came out to do a beautiful "Danny Boy"; I have to say that he should have been headlining at these Lisa shows from the beginning (no offense to the great Paul Byrom)... "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Lisa was the first introduction of the Voice Academy singers; again Lisa seemed to be holding back and not reaching for the stratospheric notes, which was fine... Lisa had invited a local "beautiful boy" named Cole to perform for this show, and he now did "Beyond the Sea"; no Celtic Woman version this, it was done like the well-known Bobby Darin version, with Cole hamming it up to GREAT effect... Cole and Dermot did "Galway Girl" while sitting on the steps with plenty of the Academy people around and behind them... Lisa did the extended version of "Over the Rainbow", which, as she said, was among her very first forays as a vocalist... "AMAZING GRACE!!"  For this song Lisa had brought in a real bagpiper, and all the soloists came out for this one; fantastic performance.

It had been a good crowd so far with a number of well-deserved standing ovations.  Lighting and sound were about as good as ever.  This first act set list had certainly been a fan-pleaser!

Okay, so straight on with it... "CALEDONIA!!!" What Lisa show would be complete without this song?... its funny, I never really liked other versions of "Summer Fly" until I heard Lisa do it, now I actually look forward to it!... Lisa and Chloe taught us to do "Wild Rover"; another fun audience participation song... Chloe, with Dermot on guitar, introduced "Grace" in honor of her great-grandfather from the 1916 Easter Rising; this played out much like her tour version of the song, and there was nothing wrong with that.

"THE PRAYER!!!!!!"  WOW.  The absolute highlight of the night, as Chloe and Dermot did a FANTASTIC rendition of the duet, with Dermot performing the non-English lyrics.  I have heard a number of different versions of this exact arrangement but this was without question the best.  In fact, it was arguably the best male-female duet that I have ever heard.  Needless to say, the standing ovation that they received from the half the house, myself included, was beyond enthusiastic.

"True Colors", with Lisa and some of the Academy singers, was especially meaningful to me as I had recently been thinking back to an Alex Sharpe performance of this song at Red Rocks; Lisa's decision to this song this year, when it meant a little extra to me, was just a coincidence, wasn't it?... "Moondance", with Lisa and Cole, was done like in shows past, leading into the Dance-off between Scott and Aaron; especially humorous in this year's version was Scott's sons coming out to dance along with him, almost like he was bringing in "reinforcements" only for them to abandon him after a particularly skillful segment from Aaron, almost as if they were saying "Sorry, Dad, you're on your own now" hahaha... Very beautiful performances by Lisa of "Fields Of Athenry" and "Hallelujah"... "You Raise Me Up" was prefaced with Lisa saying it was time to start wrapping things up to a chorus of "NO!!!!" from the audience; I got my wish, with Chloe singing the most important lyrics that I've ever heard, the words that always have and always will sum up what Chloe, Lisa, Celtic Woman, the fan community, and the entire experience means to me: "Then I am still and wait here in the silence/Until you come and sit awhile with me"... "Dance, Dance, Dance" finished things off, with waves from the stage and standing ovations from the entire crowd.

Many of us went to IHOP for the after-show event; I rode with Tom to guide him, as he had never been there before.  In fact once again too many of us were there, and unfortunately no one had thought to call ahead about reserving the long line of tables.  It took more than an hour to get seated and served.  Many goodbyes were exchanged at the end of IHOP; the hardest of all, without question, was Mike, although we will meet up again in June.  I got about four and a half hours sleep, and Lester and I said our goodbyes at the hotel, especially to Tony and Scott.  The journey home was much harder than the previous ride.  It took both of us, with me taking the helm for the middle three or four hours, for us to make it safely back to Texas.  Both of us were in a stage of absolute exhaustion; I had gotten 13 hours of sleep in the preceding 120 hours.  We shook hands at my house when he dropped me off, although we too will see each other again, when we head to San Antonio for a relatively local Celtic Woman show.  I posted a quick message on Facebook announcing my safe arrival, and fell into my bed.  Of all the things that Lisa and Chloe and all the rest have taught me, the one overwhelming thing has been an appreciation of sleeping in my own bed haha.


A few thoughts occur to me about Lisa Kelly from this most recent Peachtree show.  One is that Lisa is an incredibly modest lady.  She mentioned about how several of the dance students had recently been recognized internationally at a contest.  Everyone in the audience knew that two of those were were own sons, but she simply referred to them as fellow "students" of the Academy.  Kudos to her for that.  Also, during the show she plugged several local businesses by name.  Especially as these were local businesses like her own, I do not have a problem with this at all, in fact she and Scott should consider more of this if it might generate revenue; who better to trumpet your business than Lisa Kelly?

For me this was the best of the Peachtree Voice Of Ireland shows, beating out even the 2015 edition which I previously considered the best (the December shows, which are not listed as Voice of Ireland shows, I consider to be separate, although I think this new show beats them out, too).  Lisa provided a more gentle vocal singing voice than she had previously, which I found to be a nice change of pace; I miss her rousing torch songs of years past but I accept that they may become more rare as she matures.  Chloe more than made up for her on this occasion, and that may have been the plan.  The addition of Dermot to the front line was very welcome, as was Cole; but I have a feeling Cole may have been a one-off.  We'll see.

These eleven days had been almost overwhelming for me.  I had three shows, two Celtic Woman and one Lisa/Chloe.  For Easter weekend I visited family, who I don't get to see very often.  I spent time with beloved fellow fans, who I also I don't get to see very often.  I rode vast distances on the roads of America, across many states.  I saw the aftermath of a few horrific traffic accidents.  I even went aboard warships.  There were a few lows, and some extreme, exultant highs.  It was all frightfully expensive, but I am reminded again of the words in "The Parting Glass" which were truer this year than ever: "Of all the money that e'er I had/I spent it in good company".

Thank you, Lisa, for giving us one more great show in the heart of Dixie.  Thank you to everyone else associated in the production of this great show.  Thank you, Chloe, for being you, which is all you ever have to be for me to admire you.

Thank you to Tony for getting me the seat for the show, and for seating Cait and Hawk at my request.  Thank you to all the fans at the show, especially Richard, Michael Payne, Kelly, Annie, Donna, Coren, Melissa, Susan S., and Daniel for talking with me at The Fred.  Thank you to Moscapoet Scott for the great long talk on Friday night and for being such a dear friend.  Thank you to Lester for being my travel companion on this journey through the Southland; also, thank you to anyone who thought of us on our long, long ride home.  And thank you to Mike Brown, without whom this review would not have been possible.  

I cheered for many who have never attended a Peachtree show.  There's always next time, and maybe some of them will get the chance to experience what we have.  But quite a few previous PTC alumni were not here this time.  Some haven't attended in awhile, some were absent for the first time: Mark S., Nick and Cherie, Tink, Patty, Rachel, Roy, Ryan, Evi, Thomas, and John T.  I thought of each of you during this trip.  You were all missed, but you were there in spirit.  Best wishes to you, and to all, until next time, when we gather again to be part of the magic that never ends.  "I have traveled hard, sometimes with conscience flying/Somewhere with the wind..."


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« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2017, 06:19PM »

Beautiful review, Scott. It was really nice to meet you.

Lisa's show was even better than I imagined it would be, filled with laughter, tears, and wonderful music. I really enjoyed the pre-show acts, particularly Sinséar. Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears is one of those songs that gets me almost every time. The Songs from the Heart IoH version is top 3 in my list of favourite Celtic Woman songs and I thought Sinséar's version was lovely.

It was such a pleasure to finally see Lisa live. I agree that she was holding back a bit compared to her days in Celtic Woman, but she didn't have to belt at the top of her lungs for me to love every moment of her on stage.

I thought her guests were great. Cole was lots of fun and Dermy was excellent.

The dance-off was really entertaining, although I wish they would have taken it easy on the strobe lights. Maybe it was just the angle I was sitting at, but it got to the point where it was distracting and practically annoying. I couldn't even see Lisa for the song that followed. All I could see was spots. Blinking overhead lights directed down at the stage would have been more than sufficient. Having stage-level strobe lights as bright as the sun directed out at the audience wasn't a good idea.

Like you, I enjoyed the touching and powerful rendition of The Prayer with Chloë and Dermy. Chloë's performance of 'Grace' about the 1916 Rising was deeply moving. Amazing Grace and You Raise Me Up were beautifully done and Galway Girl is always tons of fun!

Chloë was hilarious, passionate, spectacular and everything else we love about her. I thought she was perfect and she just seems to keep getting better every time she performs.

For me, the highlight of the show was "For Good." The first time I heard that song was when Susan McFadden and Eabha McMahon covered the song as part of #17weeks17songs last year. I loved it then but my goodness seeing Lisa and Chloë together on stage was magical and hearing them sing this song together was overwhelmingly beautiful.

I am really glad I went to this show. It exceeded my expectations and I honestly want to come back and do this again next year!

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