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Nov
05

REVIEW: Celtic Woman "Isle of Hope" @ Wharton Center, Nov. 4

In Section: A&E blog Posted By: DAVID WINKELSTERN
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It was a real treat just to be able to hear the Celtic Woman show Wednesday night without having to endure a local Public Broadcasting Station pledge break. The Irish-based singers and musicians might be best known for their PBS concerts, often aired with interruptions featuring pleas for contributions.

Experiencing the Celtic Woman concert live at the Wharton Center was a truly satisfying experience. Wearing gowns that would make Oscar Night red carpet beauties or Disney princesses seem underdressed, the four principal singers soloed and offered tight harmonies.

Finding an empty seat during this show was about as likely as finding a vacant spot on a Titanic lifeboat, with the majority who filled the chairs on the more mature side - a PBS-watching kind of audience old enough to remember when there were no such things as microwaves.

But there was nothing micro about the sonic waves or the roars of approval the crowd repeatedly made throughout the two-and-a-half-hour performance, including a standing ovation for an extended, energetic encore. So what if those extra songs seemed about as spontaneous as the countdown before the ball drop on New Year's Eve.

With a keyboardist, guitarist, bassist, two multi-percussionists and a guy (Tommy Martin) who played whistles and ullieann pipes, the band itself was worth pledging some cash for. When the woman from you-know-where named Mairead joined them on violin, the impact was especially potent. Of course, Mairead's, pixie-prancing about the stage in a flowing white dress and flowing, blonde hair didn't lessen the appeal.

A heavily percussive Irish flavor seasoned the elegant, elaborately decorated and lighted show. Still, the music was diverse. Besides their own familiar tunes from recordings and TV appearances, the music also included traditional songs, including a flawless a cappella "Danny Boy," as well as pop material by Cindy Lauper, Rod Stewart, Josh Grobin and Billy Joel.

Backed by six back-up singers who could front shows of their own, the 17-piece Celtic Woman ensemble actually featured more men (by one) than women.

Everyone on the Wharton stage displayed a talent that deserved a major contribution, even if it meant no coffee mug or tote bag would be promised for such a pledge.








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