Part 1 – Observations from a friend new to Celtic Thunder
I don’t usually get to travel outside Fort Collins for music, nor do I generally need to with all the great live music we have here almost every day. Tonight was an exception, however. Celtic Thunder was in Colorado tonight and yesterday- they spent yesterday enjoying Boulder on their day off, and tonight they arrived in Loveland for one of the last shows of this year’s tour. They will be in Washington and Idaho, and Washington again, and then they go home for well-earned rest and time with their friends and families. I have had my concerns with the management side of Celtic Thunder for a few years now, but that does not reflect in any way on the musicians and their music, so I was really looking forward to seeing the new show.
So how was it? Great, of course. After all the snags that came up before the day of the show, tonight was a breeze. My replacement tickets were ready for me with my name on them at Will Call, handed to me without any hassle and without my having to provide layers of ID to pick them up. I bought my tickets back in April, the very first day they were on sale, but I hadn’t realized what nice seats I got. We were 9 rows above the sound & lights consoles, almost exactly even with center-stage. We were still too far away to see Colm blush, which sadly may have happened without my seeing it tonight, but since we were in the front of our section and on a slope, it was easy to forget there were other people in the seats around me and just get sucked in to the performances. I doubt that anyone on stage could see me, but it felt like they were singing just for me sometimes.
My friend who drove us to the show and occupied my second seat was a lucky find, completely new to Celtic Thunder just as the last two friends were, last year, but someone who came away from the show with a favorite singer and that singer’s autograph. (Her favorite? Emmet, of course. “That voice!”)
I found it quite interesting hearing my friend’s reactions at the ‘interval’ (intermission), because while this was only my 3rd Celtic Thunder show, I’ve known their music a long time now. My friend looked up a few videos on youtube this afternoon, but had never heard any Celtic Thunder before today. We talked a bit about how old the audience was, and about how few men were in the audience, and pondered futilely how one would expand Celtic Thunder’s marketing strategy to bring in more, and more diverse new fans. This is an old problem, but one very easy to see in the events center tonight, and we still have no cure-all solution yet. She did point out that if Celtic Thunder changed their name, they might draw a different audience; she thought at first that I was inviting her to an Irish dance show, just going by the name. Maybe if a name change is too drastic, the lads could learn to do Irish step-dancing? Probably not.
The other comment my friend made that stuck out was that the show seemed disjointed and all over the place. I know who all the singers are, and I know all the words to all the songs, so for me it would not be confusing seeing the singers constantly coming and going. For her, though, and for many new would-be fans including the ones I brought along last year, it is hard to keep all the singers straight, and since the songs don’t transition into each other or have a coherent story they follow, the show does seem a bit jumbled. I pointed out how in Britain and Ireland there are variety shows like what we used to have on TV in the 1950’s, and mentioned the disjointed randomness of open mics, as references to make the Celtic Thunder show seem less overwhelmingly complicated and random, and that seemed to help. I know Storm was a bit on the cheesy side, but maybe it is time for a new Celtic Thunder musical next year, one that could tour, at least as a musical in concert the way Les Miserables was so successfully rendered.
Randomness and confusion aside, I think I may have won Celtic Thunder a new convert tonight.
Page 2: Part 2 – My own reactions