Nostalgia, tradition, and old-world charm collide with a modern translation of contemporary Irish songs, classic hits, and romantic love songs in the new show celebrating a decade of Celtic Thunder.
Celtic Thunder X marks 10 Years of Celtic Thunder with a mix of original material and fresh covers that inspired the phenomenon. Featuring Damian McGinty, Michael O’Dwyer, Emmet Cahill, Ryan Kelly, and Neil Byrne, Celtic Thunder X features 27 new songs with the same magic that turned Celtic Thunder into a household name in 2008. The production comes to Jacksonville for one performance only December 20th at the Times-Union Center’s Moran Theater. (www.artistseriesjax.com)
“There’s always something new when we bring a new show, and “Celtic Thunder X” is no different,” says Kelly. “Lots of new covers, a few originals, and the typical dodgy costumes thrown in for good measure.”
For Kelly, reaching the 10-year milestone is a bit surreal. “I certainly didn’t think back in 2008 when we came out for our very first tour that we’d still be doing it 10 years later,” says Kelly. “In this business, the minority of shows make it this far, so I do take a lot of pride in the fact we’re still doing what we love.”
The costumes and the sets used in Celtic Thunder enhance the ensemble numbers. Big show songs such as the opener ‘Sons of Light’ and ‘Castle on the Hill,’ along with fun Irish songs like ‘Toora Loora Lay,’ and ‘Right, All Right’ mix with beautifully harmonious songs ‘May the Road Rise to Meet You’ and ‘Rise Again,’ along with the nostalgic fun of songs such as ‘I’m a Believer.’ Celtic Thunder singing together is always a crowd pleaser and showcases the strengths of each individual member.
“From its inception, Celtic Thunder has always been a collection of soloists who blend together for ensemble pieces as well,” Kelly says. “It’s important that we all let our distinct personalities and varying vocal styles shine through, and, I believe, that distinct blend helps us to arrive at the “Celtic Thunder sound” which is our own.
Damian McGinty endears audiences with his performances of ‘Galway Girl,’ ‘Bye Bye Baby’ & ‘L-O-V-E.’ Michael O’Dwyer’s character develops with ‘The Voice,’ ‘A Thousand Years’ and ‘Without You,’ and Emmet Cahill’s ‘Crow on the Cradle,’ ‘Phil the Fluter’s Ball’ and ‘On the Street Where You Live’ will charm audiences. Kelly’s bad-boy character is intact with ‘I Useta Lover,’ ‘Much Too Old’ and ‘Devil Went Down to Georgia,’ while Neil Byrne’s rendition of ‘Streets of London’ is a nod to nostalgia.
“It’s really a big party! We’re celebrating this milestone all throughout the tour and so want the audience to enjoy hearing the songs as much as we enjoy performing them,” remarks Kelly. “There’s a mix of old and new in there with some of the standards that have become our “anthems” over the last 10 years.”
Celtic Thunder is renowned for its eclectic, theatrical-style show. Backed by the Celtic Thunder Band on their concert tours, their live shows are known for the use of dramatic set pieces which often invoke symbols of ancient Celtic mythology, visual effects and highly choreographed staging. Through the years, the lineup has evolved as members went on to focus on solo efforts. Kelly is among the original members.
“Well, I guess like any musical act that have been on the road for as long as we have, a change in personnel is always inevitable. As one of the few still there from the very beginning I always say they just haven’t found out how to get rid of me yet,” he says.
Celtic Thunder credits their longevity to its extremely dedicated fanbase. The crowd singalongs help enhance the live performances, and it’s an amazing feeling to witness the joy from the stage night after night.
“We definitely have the best fans in the world. When you look out from the stage and see how involved in the show the audience is, it can only make you put even more into your own performance,” says Kelly. “It’s a great connection that has worked fantastically well with our US, Canadian and Australian fans equally over the past 10 years.”
After a decade of touring and performing, Kelly says the group is conscious that the show must evolve in order to remain fresh. “If it had remained static, I don’t believe people would still be coming back 10 years later. So, we’re very appreciative of that and know that we must strive to raise the bar every year as well,” he says. Looking ahead at the next 10 years, he already has a working title in mind that is guaranteed to attract new audiences.
“I’ll be moving closer to my pension,” laughs Kelly. “Seriously, if the fanbase still wants us and we’re enjoying the music we’re making, I’ll very happily look forward to the “Celtic Thunder XX Tour” … although that title does sound a bit risqué.”