My Heart Was Melted Again
As usual, the title has a double meaning. Perhaps even triple this time. After my last show in Cleveland way back in March, I've been waiting for this day. I even had a title and the first paragraph already written for this very review. Then Alex made her announcement and the world stopped turning. Instead of my heart being on its way home again it was torn asunder. I have refrained from posting too much about it, but facing Alex's departure was difficult. She was the first Celtic Woman who's entire CW career I had witnessed. Even though I had survived Méav and Orla leaving, I didn't have as much invested in them as I had with Alex. When I first heard My Heart Was Home Again in Roanoke, which seems like ages ago now, I saw Alex in a whole new light and fell in love with her all over again.
“So it goes, history shows, deserts must expand.” There is now a desert in my heart where Alex used to be and knowing that I may never see her “face across the street again” made tonight's show a double-edged sword. On one hand, I wanted so badly to see my “girls” again. I was finally mostly mended from Cleveland and I wanted them back in my life again. However, seeing them again would mean seeing them without Alex and that was a wound that was still fresh. I had read a few teasers about changes that had been made to the show, but there was not too much substantive information. Despite some things I read, I went in with an open mind.
OK, on with the review. I had planned an extra day's vacation as part of this mini-tour. I drove to Erie Wednesday night for a day of sightseeing on Thursday. Presque Isle State Park is a lovely place and I didn't have time to visit it when I was here in the Spring so, since it's on the way to Niagara Falls, I left a day early. I was up early Thursday morning and headed out onto the peninsula to check things out and do some morning photography; my plan was to stop back later in the day to see what things looked like in the evening. There is a scenic boat tour which takes you around the tip of the park into Lake Erie and then along the Erie city waterfront. There are several midday trips, but the interesting one is the sunset cruise which I penciled into my day's schedule. I would be meeting forum member Thomas for lunch so I did a little train photography until it was time to meet. He is a supplier to GE Locomotive Works in Erie and he gave me tour of the portions of the plant he has access to. It was very interesting and thanks again, Thomas!
Then I did a little more train photography until early evening, grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed back out on the peninsula to the boat launch. When I went to get my ticket I was told that due to approaching weather they might not sail and they told me to check back later. Keeping Scott's planned arrival in Buffalo at 11:15 in mind, I did a little math and it still looked like I could make it. It's a planned 90 minute cruise and 90 minutes to Buffalo, close but OK. At 7:30 they told me that everything was a go and at around 8:00 we pushed off. It was cloudy and we didn't actually get to see the sun set but the trip along the Erie waterfront at dusk was absolutely lovely. If you get the opportunity, do it.
We got back a little later than planned and I rolled into Buffalo International Airport around 11:30 to find that Scott had changed flights and arrived a little after 10. And he didn't have my new cell number so he didn't know where I was. All's well that end well, though, and we got to the hotel a little after midnight. Friday morning I had planned to walk around the falls area but I had to wait for some persistent showers to pass through. The humidity was about 120% and as soon as I walked outside my camera lens fogged up! I worked through it and spent about 2 hours shooting both stills and video. The weather didn't make for spectacular pictures but who knows when I'll get back here again. After lunch, and Scott's adventure, we dehumidified and met Ralph, Connie, Samantha and her daughter for dinner at The Brickyard in Lewiston.
This would be Ralph's friends' first show and we had great seats. Scott and I had front row pit and Ralph and company had second row pit. The humidity had not let up and you could almost cut the air with a knife, but as we all know nothing will keep up from seeing a CW show. The clouds cleared out and the sun only made it worse. Until the gates opened at 6:30, we stood near the stage entrance and watched show personnel head to and from the buses. At one point Lynn flew by; either she was late or had gotten caught "messing." I didn't see any golf carts...
The crowd definitely skewed towards the geriatric and it was a little funny to watch the "slow motion mad dash" when the gates finally did open. The doors opened at 7:15 and it was even more stifling inside. Despite being billed as an “open air” venue, only a small portion of the back is open and there is virtually no airflow through the building. The new Fiddler Crossing signs made great fans and were quickly put to use. The stage is very large and the set is located toward the back, leaving a large unused area on the front of stage; the girls won't be getting close to us tonight. The way we were sweating that may have been a good thing. In case you've been keeping track, that's the second meaning of the title.
I hear ushers saying the event is sold out but apparently this area of New York seceded from Connecticut because many people show up late. After the standard announcement I ready myself for something old yet also new. The lights dim, but because the back is open the stage is not dark. Lynn comes out first with her candle, followed by Lisa and finally Chloë. Instead of being in a square formation they are in a triangle and the Alex-less journey has begun. Interestingly Níl Sé'n Lá does not seem that different without Alex because their voices have always blended together so well that the missing part doesn't leap out at you. Lisa's Fields of Gold is as lovely as ever. Then it's Máiréad and Coast of Galicia. She always changes the opening of this song and tonight was no exception. Quite a few things are different and she's having great fun teasing us. She did a full complement of 12 spins and she's lucky she stopped there; more about that later, too! Chloë did an extended introduction to Galway Bay where she asked if we were as hot as they were. We nodded affirmatively.
Next is the first significant surprise of the night. Part way through Orinoco Flow, and I'm not sure where because it was so totally unexpected, the girls start singing all kinds of new things, amazing high notes and wonderful harmonies. Whoa, back that up; I need to hear that again! I will be listening much more closely Saturday night. Lynn tweaked My Lagan Love a little and Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears was lovely as always. Like the other group numbers, Alex's absence is muted by the harmonies.
Now for the most difficult part of the night. I knew it was coming and I thought I was prepared but when Lisa began introducing My Heart Was Home Again all I could think about was Alex. I wasn't sure I really wanted to hear anyone else sing it; to me, Alex owns that song. When Lisa started singing, it felt strange and every little nuance that was different from the way Alex sang it jumped out at me. After she moved from the piano to center stage and finished the first chorus, Lynn joined her and sang the second verse. Then they joined together and their voices do blend and harmonize very, very nicely. In the end, it was a stellar performance and had I heard it before Alex I would be shouting it from the rooftops. But I didn't. I need to hear it a few more times and maybe it will grow on me, but I'm not sure that I want it to. The jury's still out on this one.
Chloë now starts out singing Lynn's part in Goodnight My Angel so I assumed that Lynn would sing Chloë's part. Nope, Chloë sings her own part as well; it's now a duet. At the end Lisa and Chloë give each other a peck on the cheek. It's a lovely moment. What can I say about Granuaile's Dance? I don't have to say anything; you don't mess with perfection and Máiréad didn't. It was wonderful as always. And she now remains on stage for Danny Boy and is a lovely addition, although it takes a little getting used to. Mo Ghile Mear is another of those quartet numbers that's now a trio and again it works. Unfortunately, the audience didn't. Full frontal VSS and a standing forum roll call. Shame on you, Lewiston.
No changes to The Call and no significant changes to Amazing Grace either. Anthony came down the left center aisle and walked onto the stage. At the beginning of the final verse, Lisa's voice now carries above Chloë's and Lynn's much more noticeably and I got the same little chill as when she belted out that last note in The Voice. Lisa's power never ceases to amaze me. Lynn did an extended introduction to Dulaman asking if there was anyone present of Irish descent. She got a rather large response and then asked how many spoke Irish. That question was greeted with silence, as it usually does, and she proceeded to explain what the song is about. No seaweed insults tonight.
You'll Be in My Heart has been dropped and nothing replaces it. The Songs from the Heart trilogy starts with Walking the Night as a duet with Chloë and Lynn instead of Alex and Lynn. After Tommy's instrumental bridge, Lisa and Chloë perform Give Me Your Hand the same as before, with Lynn joining in and the song finishing as a trio number. Lisa then moved right into The Moon's a Harsh Mistress without an introduction since she did her intro during the first act. Silky smooth and lovely as always. Chloë is up next with When You Believe which was the costume change number for At the Ceili. But wait, isn't Chloë in that song now? Yes she is, and she looks radiant in her deep red ceili dress which she changes into in record time for her part as the second girl seeking a husband. She fills the role splendidly and makes the part her own just as Orla and Alex did before. When she's flirting with Brian at the piano she gives him a noogie and when she is spinning with the other girls they are hanging on for dear life since Chloë appears to trying out for the shotput!
Of course, after that comes my favorite, Last Rose Fantasia, and no matter how many times I watch the DVD or listen to the CD it's never the same as hearing it live. Máiréad rarely looks at the audience during that song but graced both Scott and I with several lovely glances tonight. Thank you, Máiréad; that means so much.
Non C'è Più excels in its classical soprano parts and since both of the sopranos are still there it suffers little and still gives me chills. Máiréad changed her introduction to You Raise Me Up and got a noticeable reaction from the audience. As I watched her in the shadows tonight, and I always do, she went from quiet reflection to smiling to grinning and back. A penny for her thoughts.
And then it's on to the rousing Finale and the Spanish Lady encore; a fabulous finish to a wonderful night. A night with more than a few surprises. I haven't mentioned it yet but Helen's back in the choir for the summer. Her hair is little longer but it's like she never left; we missed you, Helen. By the way, watch out for your suitor during At the Ceili; you look like you're having way too much fun and I'm not sure he can be trusted! Nick is also back on drums; he was absent from the Canadian shows but all is now right with the world in the CW percussion department.
OK, time for my final impressions. Overall, I'm happy. All of the group numbers seem to work well with only three. In fact, there were a few that I thought were perhaps a little awkward with four in the past which now seem to flow better. I love the new touches in Orinoco Flow; I just can't find the darn replay button. I think Goodnight My Angel was better as a trio than a duet. I'm not sure what David's rationale was for changing that one; Alex wasn't even in it. The biggest hurdle to overcome for me is, of course, giving My Heart Was Home Again to Lisa and Lynn. While the new arrangement is gorgeous, I don't know how I feel about it yet. Time will tell.
By the way, there is a new, almost Alex-free, program. It is four pages shorter than the old one. There is also a new group photo for the M&G that only includes the current four artists. I guess when you're gone, you're gone.
The original review is here.