Best Fest Buddy Tom and I recently headed out to the Rosemont Theatre to see the latest incarnation of Celtic Woman.
With the pandemic apparently sort of over (or whatever the hell this phase might be), the act is once again on tour. This time it’s to support their most recent album, Postcards from Ireland. As is the Celtic Woman custom, the related video has been turning up in recent months on PBS as a pledge drive special.
The premise of the special is some dude writing postcards back home while on holiday as he travels across Ireland. Why it’s a guy writing postcards, I am not sure. And why anyone nowadays would be sending postcards is equally perplexing.
The video has Celtic Woman singing while standing about Irish tourist attractions and dressed in their trademark gowns.
Frankly, I felt frightened for these women as they stood along beaches or cliffs in those outfits. A strong breeze could have lifted them out to sea! A strong current could have left them soggy, if not drifting to points unknown!
Luckily, the stage version was less death-defying. It also didn’t really touch on the postcards concept, but for a mention of the current album.
There were small fans on stage, though, to simulate breezes gently blowing back hair and billowy garb. For the good of all, the fans were not used during a solo from a kilted bagpiper.
There was a lot of mist from a fog machine in the air, which is common during a Celtic Woman show. And humidity can be good for voices and skin.
Before the show started, I noticed a woman sitting in front of me texting “I’m having a night out with Mom” to someone.
I’m not a good judge of age, but I guess Mom was maybe in her 70s. So are Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith and a host of other dino-rockers.
Moms, grandmothers and great grandmothers might also like a more rollicking time then there is to be had at a Celtic Woman show. But every generation has lite music stars, from before Barry Manilow to whom or whatever might happen after Ed Sheeran.
Still, while Celtic Woman is very good at what they do, I have some ideas for them should they ever want to bring the act beyond its easy listening ways.
Celtic Woman, meet the queens of Six
My inspiration comes from seeing Six, which runs at the CIBC Theatre through July 3.
If Celtic Woman ever decided to update their wardrobe, work with a dance pop music producer, take on an historical/her-storical theme and throw in some jokes and new steps for good measure, it could resemble this sassy, empowering, high-energy, high-concept rave of a musical.
At the official opening night for the current tour for Six, the first thing I noticed before curtain was the stage was bathed in royal purple. Just like at Celtic Woman.
Actually, the first thing I noticed was some audience members dressed in costumes resembling those the cast would be wearing. Cosplay!
Could Celtic Woman use cosplay? Should the Irish act encourage its fans to wear prom dresses to their shows? Dammit. I should have at least worn a kilt to see Celtic Woman.
But back to Six, where things begin with a techno take on Greensleeves. How hard would it be to have a DJ remix Danny Boy or Wild Mountain Thyme?
Six proceeds to present the six wives of Henry VIII as a relatively contemporary dance pop act. These Spice Girls from the 16th Century, wearing clubby gear and with modern attitudes, tell their own stories in song and dance during their Divorced, Beheaded, Live concert.
Rock bands and the dreadful Andrew Lloyd Weber have done things like this, but with the concept album coming out first, then the staged version in one form or another. For reference see Tommy, Quadrophenia, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Wall as examples, if you must.
With its big beat, booty shaking numbers to Tudor queen girl-power ballads, Six’s all-woman band gets the sound of slick chart-toppers down pretty well. From the Now That’s What I Call Music collections through the Spotify algorithmic mixes of today it’s there in the Six sound.
The show runs about 80 minutes, which is about what a CD could hold. Not that most people listen to music on CDs anymore.
Well, maybe a lot of Celtic Woman fans do. So maybe Celtic Woman could be backed up by just other women and try to up the BPM on a few tunes. Or at least throw in some Cranberries or Sinead O’Connor along with the Orinoco Flow of Enya now used.
Cripes, it’s been 32 years since O’Connor released her take on Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U. Celtic Woman Chloe Agnew even sings a version of that tune on YouTube.
From what I’ve read, Six does provide a lot of historically accurate details in its ditties, much like Schoolhouse Rock did for a past generation of TV-watching kids. Henry VIII doesn’t appear. Not even to sing, Oops! I Did It Again.
Six also has a clever Playbill which offers more details about the six wives. It’s all about the marketing, which Celtic Woman certainly knows.
Following the success of Six as example, maybe Celtic Woman could find an historical topic of its own. Brigid, Celtic goddess and/or patron saint of Ireland, comes to mind.
I think this is doable.
At Six I noticed a good many women were there with their moms or female friends. There even were coach buses waiting for a group after Six. Both were like you would see at a Celtic Woman concert.
Finally, like Ace of Base, I saw the sign that I am onto something: At the curtain call for Six, some women who came on stage to give the cast flowers wore full-length gown. Just like the women of Celtic Woman do.
The circle is complete.
I can’t wait to collect my first royalty check!