Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism
Robinson Center Music Hall
We were generally thrilled, overjoyed, relieved (take your pick) to see the huge turnout for Celtic Woman last week at Robinson Center. After all, the lower portion of Robinson was priced at $85 to $100 (Celtic Woman only cost $40 and $45 in St. Louis) and, even if this was a benefit for AETN, we’d seen plenty of fabulous Irish groups come through town who were lucky to draw a pittance of fans.
Give AETN credit for promoting this show for months, and running that fabulous video special of Celtic Woman over and over, so a good portion of the crowd knew what they were getting: an amazing amalgam of beautiful voices, not only from the four starring women but their chorus, plus a terrific six-piece band, and the highlight of the night, the sprite of a performer named Mairead Nesbitt. Nesbitt would leap onto the stage with her fiddle, then scurry to and fro, adding a little step dance here and there. Every time Nesbitt appeared, you could feel the entire audience smile.
You could also feel the audience get emotional over Meav (she’s dropped the rest of her name) singing “Danny Boy,” Lisa Kelly singing “Send Me a Song,” Orla Fallon singing the Gaelic-inspired “Harry’s Game,” and Nesbitt making her fiddle cry out the classic “Ashoken Farewell.” You could feel the audience tapping their toes when Meav, Fallon, and Kelly sang Celtic ditties. Fourth singer Chloe Agnew, all of 18, possessed a pop contemporary voice and range like that of Christina Aguilera. At times, all decidedly different styles of voices blended into one overwhelming and brilliantly lovely sound.
So captivating were these talents that lines to the souvenir tables were packed at intermission and after the show.
There were references by some that this would be like “Riverdance,” another Irish touring sensation. This was nothing like Riverdance; this was simply four incredible voices interpreting some music we knew and some we didn’t. No wonder the CD was in such demand. Good news: There’s another Celtic Woman CD on the way.
Other fabulous groups who have come this way deserve to see similar turnouts, like Altan, which played Robinson a few years back.