Celtic Thunder's "Mythology" is enhanced by the set – a Celtic Cross, and four standing stones, on which back-projections subtly add to the mood of each song. As did an absence – due to the tragic death, from a heart-attack at the age of 46, of George Donaldson, one of their lead vocalists.
The opening song, Voices, sets the scene -- "Voices call from the old days, Voices tell from the past, Ancient laws and ancient old ways to recast."
It was clear that many of the audience were very familiar with Neil Byrne, Ryan Kelly, Keith Harkin, Colm Keegan, and Emmet Cahill, and with their songs – a mix of familiar ballads and new songs written for the group, presented with slick stage-craft, and the technical wizardry of lights, smoke machines, and back projections that make for today's mega presentations.
And certainly these young men had what it took to wow their audience.
Rocky Road to Dublin was the perfect song to kick off the second half of the show, it's high energy bringing the audience to fast-clapping approval. The Boys are Back in Town was delightful fun, and throughout the show the musicians were superb. When, near the end, they showcased their skills with a wonderful jig, with the fiddler leaping around the stage, I rather wished we had had more of that.
The Star of the County Down was a pleasure to watch, as they acted out their unsuccessful wooing of the beautiful lady.
Colm Keegan (the newcomer to the group) did well, particularly when he sang and played his own piano accompaniment to Katie – yet another Irish song of unrequited love. But for me the best song of the night was his duet with Keith covering Simon and Garfunkel's Sounds of Silence – even if the audience's clapping along might have worried the original singers.
Emmett Cahill has an operatically trained voice – and it shows. His highlight was The Lake Isle of Innisfree which managed to make us forget that Yeats ended up hating that poem. His Spanish Lady was also magical.
It really did not seem like two hours when they bracketed the beginning and end of the show with Voices.
The audience were obviously well pleased. They had got what they came for – a slickly presented show, with engaging performers, presenting a mix of myth, Celtic twilight, hard rock and pop, backed by superb musicians.
Their remaining shows are:
Newcastle: Newcastle Entertainment Centre Tuesday 27th May 2014
Wollongong: WIN Entertainment Centre Wednesday 28th May 2014
Sydney: The Star Event Centre Friday 30th May 2014
Canberra: Royal Theatre Saturday 31st May 2014
Albury: Albury Entertainment Centre Sunday 1st June 2014
Bendigo: Bendigo Stadium Tuesday 3rd June 2014
Ballarat: Wendouree Performing Arts Centre Wednesday 4th June 2014
Geelong: Geelong Arena Friday 6th June 2014
Melbourne: The Plenary, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre Saturday 7th June 2014
Adelaide: Adelaide Entertainment Centre Theatre Monday 9th June 2014
Mandurah: The Boardwalk Theatre Thursday 12th June 2014