Open letter to Celtic Thunder fans
By: Mike Farragher | Published Saturday, June 18, 2011, 11:10 AM | Updated Friday, September 9, 2011, 10:14 PM
Wait! Wait! Hold on! The reason you can’t slam the door on my face is that my foot is jammed there in the frame!
Jesus, I know you’re ticked off, but can you just hear me out for a second?
Yeah, I can see you’re still sore from my review of Celtic Thunder’s last album, It’s Entertainment. It probably wasn’t easy to read in print how the show “jumped the shark,” but could you blame me?
Trotting the preposterously talented men in that troupe out in Lounge Lizard suits and torturing them with the schlockiest tunes ever recorded in pop music was a mistake. Does the world REALLY need another version of Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” or Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do for You?”
I rest my case.
Well, if you’ll admit your mistake, I’ll admit mine. I thought and wrote at the time that you killed the show off, but then along comes Heritage, a stunning return to form.
Gone is the “gigolo hanging by the lamp post” vibe that was so cloying during the It’s Entertainment phase. In the new Heritage show, the lads come out onstage in plain clothes and sing their heart out on classic Irish tunes as Phil Coulter furiously conducts and coaxes interesting nuances from the songs you thought you knew so well.
I love the drama injected into “Black Is the Color!” It’s the first time I can remember the ballad getting a midtempo beat, and Ryan Kelly’s rakish delivery is stone cold genius.
I didn’t think anyone could touch the Irish Tenors’ version of “Just a Song at Twilight,” but Paul Byrom’s booming voice gives the Tenors a real run for their money!
Coulter’s “Gold and Silver Days” sounds fantastic, with new melodic nuances revealed within the creative harmonies of the troupe. And I love the southern fried treatment you give to “All God’s Creatures,” a favorite kiddie tune from this writer’s tattered youth.
The world doesn’t really need another version of “Galway Girl,” either, but fair play to you for shining the light on the work of alt-country underground great Steve Earle. He is a brilliant songwriter that deserves access to the PBS crowd that might not be familiar with his work. You did the same thing for Paul Brady in past shows, which is truly admirable.
Speaking of PBS, I caught the show over the weekend along with the rest of the world because the notion of me getting free advance CDs or tickets to your shows ever again is about as likely as Charlie Sheen opening up a successful preschool franchise.
I get how one bad review makes certain people forget who was the first person in the states to sing a show’s praises. You probably forcefully crossed me off the holiday card list, which probably explains why I never even heard about your Celtic Thunder Christmas CD until I logged onto iTunes this morning.
Ah, well. Don’t feel bad for me. I’ll just dry my tears in the taffeta dresses of Celtic Woman.
Oh, yeah. Burned that bridge, too. Never mind!
Anyway, you may never even dignify this apology with a response, but I’m making it anyway. Against my better judgment, I am a fan of these big glitzy Celtic shows in the beginning, and it just kills me to see a good idea drained dry of any artistry with each show.
On Heritage, you prove that there is still sweet cream left in the auld udder and for that, this reviewer humbly offers a belated standing ovation.