What a wonderful day; they don't get much better than this. It starts with me picking up Scott at his hotel for a morning of getting reacquainted. I haven't seen him since Roanoke and we have a lot of catching up to do. After breakfast we go over to Red Rocks and watch the crew setup the stage. I had watched it last year but this was Scott's first time. After we were there for a while a lovely young lady comes over and it turns out to be Hannah. We chat for quite a while and then her parents join us. This will be her first show and to say she was excited would be putting it mildly. What a great show to have as your first. Before we leave I walk down and talk to the security person who was working the left side of the stage. I remembered her from last year and she remembered me, too. We talk for a bit and then Scott and I prepare to head for Romano's for the forum lunch. Since we had parked in the upper lot we had to walk up the 186 steps from stage level to the top. I surprised myself by making it without stopping with Scott not too far behind me. I couldn't do it last year so what happened? Beats me.
After a quick stop to pick up my “bag of tricks” we meet the gang. And what a gang it is. There are over 20 of us and they have to keep adding tables to accommodate everyone. We also overwhelm our waiter with the size of our party. I won't name everyone, it would take too long, but there are many old friends and a few new ones, too. Around 3:30 we all begin to head to the box office to pick up our tickets. Since most of us have tickets in the first few rows we have to pick them up, it's the venue's policy. We stand around the Trading Post and chat for a while until it's time to walk up the steps to the venue. More climbing, ugh! After successfully negotiating security with all of our stuff, including the two items for David, we head for our seats. Something new this year is that row 1 and part of row 2 are roped off and as your ticket is checked you get a wristband for reentry.
Before the show, Ann and Emma come down to visit; they are about 20 rows back. Emma looks as adorable as ever in her fiddler dress and I give her one of the new Fiddler Crossing signs. She loves it. We chat with Ann and her husband for a while as Emma just soaks it all in.
I start out in the second row, just to the right of Des, but thanks to Scott I get my first ISU of the tour and end up front row center for the second act. There are black curtains to hide the girls' entry and exit but most of backstage is visible and I can see Nick, Des, Tommy, Helen and others wandering about. After the announcement at 7:30 I prepare myself. I see Chloë, Lisa and Máiréad move into position behind the curtain on the right and I assume Lynn does the same on the left. The sun has set but it's not completely dark yet as they dim the lights. The familiar haunting opening begins and I can already sense that something special is about to happen.
The girls are thoroughly juiced and are giving it their all. Lisa really sinks her teeth into Fields of Gold and gives a very emotional performance. Fasten your seat belts, here comes Mairead with Coast of Galicia. What a bundle of energy she is tonight. She is all over the stage covering every square inch she can. She does eleven spins, tying her record for the summer tour. I'm too far away to be sure whether she can see me but I catch a few glances in my general direction. Next Chloë gives a very long introduction to Galway Bay. She talks about how special Red Rocks is to them and that it their absolute favorite venue to play in. She mentions some of the small towns in Ireland whose population is about the equivalent of the first two rows. She also mentions that it's their 129th show for the year. She is clearly moved by the experience and gives the most heartfelt performance I've seen all year. They are pouring it on with Orinoco Flow and the new harmonies still send a little shiver up my spine. Lynn's My Lagan Love is breathtaking tonight, so crystal clear under the starry sky. The emotions being felt by everyone on stage are evident during Isle of Hope and the whirling banshee returns for her signature Granuaile's Dance. Where does she get the energy, especially at 6,000 feet in elevation?
Lisa's introduction to My Heart Was Home Again is also extended as she talks about how special Red Rocks is to them. She says that even though the view we have of the stage is magnificent, the view from the stage, looking across the audience to the stars in the sky, is even more beautiful. Lisa really gets to me tonight in the opening verse and I'm thinking they may have finally won me over but it's not to be. I'm pretty sure it's the duet aspect that ruins it for me. The song is a story best told by just one person and I think that if Lisa had sung the whole song herself I would be much happier. We'll just have to wait and see what happens next year, I guess. Sterling performances of Goodnight My Angel, Danny Boy, and Mo Ghile Mear round out the first act and everyone is on their feet.
At intermission Scott informs me of 4 empty seats in the center of the front row and we move quickly. Ann and Emma have come down to visit again. Emma is having a great time and I suggest an ISU for them into Scott's, Dwight's and my old seats. I babysit Emma while Ann runs back to get her husband. When they return I head for my new seat but later learn that some confusion caused them to have to return to their original seats. Too bad, Emma would have enjoyed the show so much more from the front row.
There's no lack of energy during the second act either. Máiréad's opening to The Call is very powerful. Amazing Grace starts with Anthony standing high above the stage on a rock to the right of stage, illuminated by a single spotlight. His bagpipes are not playing through the sound system, though; he is totally acoustic and the effect is awesome. He gets very well deserved applause as do the girls at several points, even before the song is over. Lynn, too, extends her introduction to Dulaman. She says they can feel that there's something in the air. Or maybe it's the “lack of oxygen.” No language lesson tonight, but an absolutely delightful and exceptionally playful performance. I was hoping the crescent moon might be visible for The Moon's a Harsh Mistress but the timing wasn't quite right. Boy did she nail it though! We are all expecting pure awesomeness when Chloë comes out for When You Believe and we were rewarded handsomely. She was once again surprised at just what that big note can do in the right environment. At the Ceili is always a joy to watch, there is so much going on that you can't take it all in. Lots of little twists and turns tonight, keeping it fresh and keeping us “regulars” confused. Last Rose Fantasia is particularly moving and during The Mason's Apron Máiréad butt-butts Ray clear off the stage! Too funny!
But that also means the end is near and Non C'è Più leads us there with the most glorious version yet. Those high notes were so clear and pure in the low-density air. Then it's Máiréad's turn to pay her respects to Red Rocks and what it means to them. You Raise Me Up is emotional for both them and us as we all know it's almost over. After a rousing standing ovation, Máiréad returns to showcase her talents one more time in the Finale, and what a showcase it is. Running, jumping, leaping, spinning, and Hendrixing, she leaves no portion of the stage unvisited. Chloë then gives us the now-standard, “Are you having fun yet?” When we don't respond loudly enough, she asks again and we bring the house down. Our reward is a rousing rendition of Spanish Lady which finishes the show, and the tour, and they seem a little reluctant to leave the stage. But they have to and we briefly mourn the end of the tour as we prepare for the Meet & Greet.
This was planned as a forum-only Meet & Greet but Mitch has invited several friends of his and foils our plan to make a formal presentation of David's gifts. We have the delightful team of Lisa and Lynn to speak to and they are positively glowing in the aftermath of the show. I have several items for Lynn to sign for other members and the same for Lisa. I also have my last two cans of Slime to be signed by Lynn and to be used as a forum contest prize on the Lynn forum. Unfortunately I don't get to see her reaction since I am still getting things organized and giving them to Rachel. She chides me a little for having too many items, but I counter by telling her that they are for other forum members. I open David's gifts so Lisa can see them and she remarks that they are absolutely beautiful and that he will love them. She assured me that they will be delivered.
And then it's over. Withdrawal will kick in soon; I'm simultaneously too jazzed and sleepy to feel it yet but I know it's coming. It was a great day and I'm ready to do it all again in a heartbeat.
I've saved the one bad thing for last. It's the perennial lighting issue, of course. I wish CW would just bring their own spotlights and do it right. There's an apocryphal story in statistics and probability theory that states: If you take a thousand monkeys and sit them in front of a thousand typewriters they will eventually produce all of the great works of human literature. Of course, they will also produce every possible typo and every possible piece of trash, too. As well as a lot of gibberish. If we change typewriters to spotlights, Red Rocks clearly had the wrong monkeys. Worst lighting ever. 'Nuf said.
The original review is here.