Celtic Woman concert makes a mockery of Irish music

Reviewed by Lee Shepherd

Never underestimate the gullibility of the American concert-going public.
A sell-out crowd attended the travesty of Irish music by Celtic Woman Tuesday night (March 5). at The Forum in Binghamton.
The promoters should have billed the fare as Irish rock, as the show was far more about stage effects than music from the Emerald Isle.
I should have known what to expect on arrival when they didn’t provide even a simple playlist but were hawking “souvenir programs” in the lobby for an exorbitant $20.
Miked at a deafening decibel level, the three singers, back-up band and two percussionists (elevated on huge platforms on the stage), plus a half-dozen other musicians, destroyed selection after selection of quasi-Irish music. The tunes were barely recognizable as having Irish origins.
The three women, in slinky dresses, oozed blatant sexuality and phony charm, meaningfully marched up and down a staircase, posing so we could get the full effect of their back-lit profiles. Each took a turn telling us how delighted they were to be in a city, the name of which they could barely pronounce.
If that weren’t enough, a couple of dozen searchlights underscored the ups and downs of the songs. Blinding lights blazed and crisscrossed to the ceiling and across the audience. Definitely headache-inducing!
Adding insult to injury, a show-off fiddler pranced and strutted around, tossing her waist-length platinum blond hair, sporting the facial expression of an elf on amphetamines. Her highly amplified tone was scratchy and unpleasant, and it looked as if she were “lip-synching” to a prerecorded sound.
What made me really sad and bemoan Celtic Woman’s waste of talent was the rendition of their signature piece, Danny Boy. For once, they stood quietly, shed the stage effects and were accompanied by a motionless fiddler. The three women have beautiful voices and can sing with exquisite harmonies. Had they been performing in a coffee house or small hall, singing acoustically or with just a hint of amplification, relying on just their talent and not all the showy trappings, it could have been a wonderful evening. But they’ve obviously sold out for fame and big bucks.
I couldn’t wait until intermission, so I could walk out.

10 Responses to “Celtic Woman concert makes a mockery of Irish music”

  1. harborsparrow Says:

    Much sympathy–I’m in agreement. Haven’t been to any Irish music concerts at McCarter theater since I had to wear earplugs at a Solas concert a few years back. All the loveliness of the acoustic instruments, totally ruined.

  2. greenboatdesign Says:

    Well written, well done. It’s just what I’ve suspected and opined all along: “Irish” music for the romance-novel-and-Danbury-Mint crowd. Thanks for the confirmation.

  3. Leo Cotnoir Says:

    Come on now. Did anyone really think that Celtic Woman was about Irish music or was anything that could remotely be considered art? This review takes the whole thing far too seriously. Ms. Shepard could just as well have assessed the finer qualities of green-dyed Bud Lite.

  4. leeshepherd Says:

    For those who love acoustic folk, check out the Cranberry Coffeehouse, held at 3rd Saturday of most months at the UU church, 183 Riverside Dr., Binghamton. On March 16, it’s Annie and the Hedonists; May 18 is the a capella all-women singing ensemble, The Johnson Girls. 7:30-9:30 p.m. A bargain at $8 suggested admission. (No coffeehouse in April).

  5. Sally Strange Says:

    This is more about the reviewer’s aesthetic preferences and their ideas about the purity of folk music performance than it is about the musical talent of the performers in Celtic Woman.

  6. Linda Says:

    I guess we were not at the same show! As far as being able to pronounce the name of a city, do you realize that people from a different country, that have an accent and speak differently than we do, might have some issues with that? Way to be welcoming of another culture! I think that comment was unnecessary, bordering on cruel and prejudice. Maybe you should have stayed for the whole show before you started cutting up a performance. Many shows that comes into perform sell memorabilia at a show. That price sounds about average, if not on the lower end. If you don’t want to buy it, don’t! I can’t believe your review and the cruelty of it! As for the violin player, she was extraordinary! As for her movements, have you ever seen a musician in the zone before? Ever see Ray Charles play the piano, or Joe Cocker sing? Apparently not! Oh and by the way, what the heck does the length of her hair have to do with anything???

  7. Christine Smith Says:

    Obviously you can’t be attractive and be a serious musician. After half of one performance I’m glad Ms. Shepherd feels informed enough to judge these women. Bravo. Way to show respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every person. You should be very proud of yourself.

  8. harborsparrow Says:

    The point is, that showing off and good looks were apparently supposed to make up for scratchy fiddling and bad tone, with over-amplification. I fear that criticism is justified. I’ve noticed it myself from seeing this show on TV.

  9. Linda Says:

    Did you know that the violin she plays is over 300 years old?

  10. Elizabeth Says:

    They play all over the world so many other people obviously appreciate their talents; not just “gullible” Americans. What a worthless “review” by a snob that isn’t qualified to judge anything. Anyone that believes a word you wrote is gullible.

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