As the Orpheum Theater darkened, Irish pipes and a pair of percussionists swept in to bring the audience into the world of Celtic Woman.
The ensemble's Irish (and sometimes Scottish and American) songs swirled through the theater as the hundreds gathered clapped, cheered and sang along for more than two hours.
“We are thrilled to be back in Omaha,” said singer ChloŽ Agnew. “Thank you all so much for coming out.”
Celtic Woman singers Agnew, Lisa Lambe and Susan McFadden as well as fiddler MŠirťad Nesbitt performed together and separately with a six-member band and four backing singers — all of whom danced at one point or another.
Tuesday's concert had elements of live theater including all of the choreography as well as several costume changes, a team of dancers and a large stage setup.
Several well-known songs originally by other artists were part of the act. “Orinoco Flow” (you may know it as “Sail Away”) is a song by Enya, an artist the troupe surely draws inspiration from. A tribute to Broadway performances included “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Misťrables” and “Circle of Life” from “The Lion King.”
Perhaps the best performance of the night was “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” a cover of Simon and Garfunkel's 1970 song. Lambe sang with only piano as accompaniment, and it was a beautiful five minutes of song.
Other favorites included the classics “Danny Boy” and “Amazing Grace” performed by the entire group and “Ave Maria” by Agnew.
Some parts of the performance were almost certainly pre-recorded vocal tracks, which I noticed after a few discrepancies between what I saw and what I heard. Not that it mattered (or should matter). The singers had to dance around while they sang, and the audience reacted with hoots, whistles and standing ovations to songs that sounded pre-recorded and others that were played live.
“Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Ave Maria” and “The Voice” showed off the individual vocal talents of Lambe, Agnew and McFadden, respectively. All three have immense voices that were capable of filling the room even without a microphone. (It was especially noticeable when Agnew's microphone cut out for a second and her voice was still quite clear.)
The theatrical elements were often the most entertaining. After the intermission, the show resumed with a bagpiper walking through the audience. He was followed by singers and dancers, several of whom sat on the lap of a fan or leaned over to introduce themselves.
Also of note were the group's two percussionists, who appeared to be in a cage of instruments. They were the driving force behind all of the music, and their parts of the compositions were often the most interesting.
Though the show was filled with applause, Celtic Woman's finale brought the biggest response. “You Raise Me Up” and “Parting Glass” are two Celtic Woman favorites, and fans showered the group with applause — and another standing ovation.
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