Sunday, December 22, 2013

Irish Tenors Music Review

Finbar Wright, Anthony Kearns & Ronan Tynan (r)

There's no place like home for the holidays; but given the 3,000+ miles distance between here and Ireland, I'd have to settle for the Music Center at Strathmore. Lucky for me (and my aunt Nessa) the aforementioned Strathmore played host to the final stop of The Irish Tenors: The Premiere Irish Holiday Celebration Tour last night. Consider it the next best thing to crossing the Atlantic, thanks to the fine Irish hospitality supplied by tenors Finbar Wright, Anthony Kearns, and Ronan Tynan. Ireland's famed musical trio wrapped up their North American tour with two+ hours of homespun classics & holiday favorites... to the delight of a sold-out audience, the second full house of the day.

Leave it to Ireland's own to schedule two shows on the same day (with only an hour break in between) before flying back to the Emerald Isle for the holidays. Ronan (the boisterous one) broke the crowd in with, 'This is the last show of the tour. You truly are privileged. The first shall be last, and the last will be first.' Cue waves of applause, the first of many throughout the night. From there, it was time for classics such as "Galway Bay," "Sweet Sixteen," and the Irish Lullaby 'Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral" before getting the crowd to join in a rousing rendition of "The Stone Outside Dan Murphy's Door."

You could tell these guys have done this before: The show was seamless, shifting back & forth between the tenors (solo performances, as well as together) and a banner orchestra who took over to give the boys a well-deserved break now and again. I have to admit, I relished the time spent with Ronan most of all: He's definitely the life of the party. His self-deprecating style is a welcome change from most of his contemporaries. Call me crazy, but I don't recall Mario Lanza throwing around comments like, "I'm wearing the same clothes I wore last year, and they don't fit." And trust me, Tynan's style is 100% authentic.

As far as vocals go, all three are sensational; but Kearns tends to steal the show, when it comes to performing solo. "After 15 years with the lads, I managed to record my own album," referring to his much-lauded "With a Song in My Heart," which debuted earlier this year (May.) Back to Ronan, who continued to poke fun at himself, "I auditioned for Shrek," before reminding the audience, "You never saw Shrek button his coat." How do you not love this guy?

After a brief intermission, the Tenors swapped black ties for red (Ronan's undone, naturally) and the show switched to a holiday theme. Yes there was "Danny Boy," but the rest of the songs were pretty much Christmas-themed (after all, it is a Holiday Celebration Tour.) I enjoyed Wright's "The Christmas Song," and even Kearns' "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day;" but by the time all three broke into "Feliz Navidad" and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," I'd had about enough. Their encore? "Jingle Bell Rock." At least it preceded one of the best moments of the night, when Kearns & Tynan paired off, hand-in-hand as they danced on stage. After a standing ovation, the audience remained standing as the Tenors wrapped up with a stirring version of "God Bless America." One can only hope they return sooner than later.

Speaking of, the Irish Tenors return stateside for St. Patrick's Day 2014, performing three shows in Florida before a relatively nearby engagement at the Sandler Center in Virginia Beach on March 25th. We'll be sure to let you know, if they add a date or two in town.