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.