Philadelphia, July 31, 2010


Ticket_20100731_PhiladelphiaThis would be my last show until Tucson in September, and I thought I would go out on a high note.  Well, as you all know the high note was Friday night in Lancaster but Kimberly was with us tonight so there was still something very special happening.  As seems to be the norm now, we had a pretty good forum contingent present.  Kelly and her friend Linda arrived by train from Boston and Rick came by Greyhound from Columbus.  If you'd flown in, Rick, we would've had planes, trains and automobiles.  Sorry ... I'm still a little punchy.  Annie and Cash came from Pittsburgh; Scott, Davey and Walter came from Baltimore; and Kimberly and her parents came from Washington.  Several of us met at the venue to listen to the sound check, even Kimberly.  Unfortunately they had to leave to get ready for dinner and missed it.  The sound check started a little after 4:00.  For the group number they performed Níl Sé'n Lá.  For the solos, Lisa did Fields of Gold, Lynn did Dulaman, Máiréad did Coast of Galicia (while standing still!), and Chloë did parts of both Galway Bay and When You Believe.  Anthony did his introduction to Amazing Grace and Tommy played The New Ground.  It lasted about 30 minutes and was wonderful to listen to.  Some of us then headed over to the Olive Garden for dinner.  There were 9 of us all together, including Kimberly and her parents, and we had a great time.

Around 7:00 we left for the venue.   On the way in I had a nice chat with one of the venue volunteers who said that she specifically volunteered for this show so she could watch the concert.  Then one of the security guards walked by, pointed to my shirt, and said, “I've heard about you guys!”  I asked him if it was good or bad and he laughed and said that it was all good things.  I promised him that we'd behave.  Once inside I met Rebekah who was buying a pair of my extra tickets for some of her family members; I was glad she got them because I hate to see tickets go to waste.  We chatted for a while and Fiddler Crossing signs were duly distributed.  I left home with 14 and returned with 3; there are now officially over one hundred of the new signs out there.  As I headed for my seat, one of the ushers got a big chuckle from my Fiddler Crossing shirt.  It certainly gets attention.  I had purchased front row pit seats from the venue before this was announced as a PBS show and I'm glad that I did.  My PBS seats were in row G, not bad but not good enough for me; I've been spoiled.  Rebekah got 2 of my PBS seats and Kelly and Linda took the other two.  My second pit seat, along with its Meet & Greet, was temporarily unused, but not for long.  Before the show, Steve came over and we chatted for a while.  He was in Albuquerque last year and will be at Red Rocks this year.  The gentlemen next to us soon joined the conversation.  After Steve went back to his seat, Robert and I continued to chat and since he was by himself I invited him to move over into my empty seat and I offered him my extra Meet & Greet.  I only required one condition and that was that he had to join the forum.  He readily agreed.  Duh!  This was not his first show but it would be his first M&G.  He, of course, got equipped with a Fiddler Crossing sign and instructions on how to attract smiles from a certain fiddler through its proper use.  At intermission he made a mad dash for the concession table so he would have additional things for the girls to sign!  Ah, you gotta love the newbies.

The clock finally ticked over to 8:00 and the recorded announcement played.  I had my new signs ready.  Somewhat unexpectedly, though, this turned out to be a different show for me.  In a good way.  As I watched the girls perform I was seeing them talking to Ann Marie in my head.  It was like watching two different shows as once.  I got lots of attention, including many lingering looks and smiles from Lynn.  I'm not used to her being that attentive but it was wonderful.  Robert and I, with our signs, attracted a white butterfly to our side of the stage and got plenty of looks.  At intermission Robert told me, “That sign really works!”

I don't have too much to say about the show that I haven't already said about other shows.  The girls were in top form and all of the performances were perfect.  Máiréad only did 10 spins.  I had my “Spin Limit” sign out and maybe I intimidated her.  I told her the fine is only one smile, so she can feel free to go for it!  I'd love to write her a ticket and collect the fine.  The perennial lighting issues were there and audience had a little difficulty standing, but they weren't too bad.  There was a little spontaneous clapping during Granuaile's Dance, although I have to say I don't think I've ever heard so many people clap out of time at once in my life.  I suspect that Furface was leading them!  I was on the opposite side of the venue from Kimberly, but I've heard reports that, when Chloë came out for her part in At the Ceili, Kimberly got a “little” excited.

I'm going to make one final comment about My Heart Was Home Again and then, unless they change something, I won't mention it again.  As much as Lisa and Lynn try, and they are trying and getting better each time, it just doesn't get me like Alex's version did.  I have really tried to love it.  Really, I have.  But there was a depth of emotion in Alex's performance, a softness, a gentleness, a poignancy, an intensity, a feeling that she had experienced that loss, that I don't think anyone will ever be able to replicate.  As beautiful as the duet is, and it is beautiful, the emotions don't flow as purely as when it's one person telling the story and maybe that's why I'm having so much difficulty with it.  Whatever emotional investment I've made in Lisa disappears when Lynn starts and I have to begin again.  Maybe it could work with Lisa as a solo piece; I guess we'll never know.

Ticket_20100731_Philadelphia_MGAfter a rousing Finale, with more out-of-time clapping, it was time for the Meet & Greet.  I told Robert to just hang with us “pros.”  They were removing the pit seats, literally unbolting them from the floor, so they chased us back a few rows.  A lady from PBS checked our names off her list and then Mitch came and did the same with his.  Mitch was actually smiling tonight!  We were led to the same room as last year, behind the stage on the lower level.  Also like last year, they had champagne for those who wanted to sip a little.  Claire handed out pictures and announced that we would be meeting Chloë and Máiréad.  I think everyone in our group was ecstatic.  Of course, we were all hoping for Chloë for Kimberly and we wanted Máiréad for ourselves.  Fate was kind.  Philadelphia had been my last show before Red Rocks in 2009, after Máiréad had injured herself in Raleigh, and I didn't get the opportunity to say goodbye.  This time I could send her off for a month of shows (without me!) in person.

Being a double PBS show the line was relatively long, there were probably 50 people, but it was well organized.  We strategically positioned ourselves at the end of the line and directly behind Kimberly, since we all wanted to be up close and personal for that meeting!  The back end of the line extended outside and it was a very pleasant evening to be standing in a line, especially knowing what was at the other end.  I had joked with Robert that we would throw him to the wolves and abandon him at the M&G and we unintentionally did.  He did OK, though, and was all smiles as he thanked me on his way out.

As we entered the door and Kimberly got a glimpse of who was at the table there was this tremendous squeal of delight and everyone turned to look.  She was straining to see and was absolutely beaming!  All heck broke loose when Kimberly got to the head of the line.  Chloë was immediately up and out of her chair and they shared a great bear hug.  Kimberly had a whole bag of stuffed animals and got them out one by one, introducing them to Chloë as she went.  She goaded Chloë into pulling the string on the dancing Maryland crab and it was so funny.  Then she ran behind the table and her and Chloë shared another wonderful hug.  Meanwhile, Máiréad was soaking it all in with the biggest grin on her face.  After Kimberly moved away from the table, she was telling  Chloë about all of the Pixar movies she'd seen.  Despite Chloë's pleas, Kimberly even revealed a few spoilers of what happens in Toy Story 3, which Chloë hadn't seen yet.  It was just as much fun to watch as the first meeting in Wilkes-Barre had been and I was thinking how lucky I was to yet again to be a part of it.  The ladies of CW are so amazing with all of their fans but something special happens when they're with their special fans.

If it hadn't been for Lancaster I'd have treated this as a normal Meet & Greet, but I just had two things I wanted to accomplish tonight.  I only got out Ann Marie's program and my Máiréad calendar to be signed; I didn't want tonight to be about autographs.  I wanted to thank them all once again for Friday night.  I thanked Rachel first and then moved to Chloë.  She had pinned her hair up in a bun and looked absolutely stunning.  I told her so, too.   She looked a little embarrassed and said that I was the third person to comment on it.  I thanked her very much for what she did for Ann Marie and, as expected, she shrugged it off as just being “what we do.”  Máiréad was exceptionally sweet tonight.  I thanked her, as well, and she said that they all had a great time with Ann Marie and were happy to do it.  I think she knows my “tour schedule” because she asked if this was my last show.  I told her it was, until Tucson.  At that point, she grabbed my hand a second time and we said goodbye, for now.

The original review is here.



© Copyright 2012 by Michael D. Brown.  All rights reserved.
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