Celtic Thunder treats Stephens Auditorium to sounds of Ireland

Celtic Thunder band members Neil Byrne and Ryan Kelly perform for the audience during their concert in Ames at Stephens Auditorium on Oct. 17.

Margaret Troup

Entering Stephen’s Auditorium Wednesday night meant you were surrounded by masses of green.

Fans both young and old were eagerly awaiting popular Irish band, Celtic Thunder’s 10-year anniversary show to begin. With talent consisting of Ryan Kelly, Neil Byrne, Damian McGinty, and Emmet Cahill, the band was guaranteed to impress.

Right away you could tell that the fans all felt like family. Gathered around the bar and merchandise table as more people poured in, the auditorium filled up with chummy Irish fans alike.

Celtic Thunder started off their show with booming performance of “Sons of Light” which might be recognized as the popular video game “Skyrim” theme song. This song not only succeeded in warming up the audience; it went above and beyond.

Immediately following was the band’s “Crow on a Cradle” which offers a much cheerier and “Irish-sounding” tune. The two songs contrasted so incredibly, it was hard to believe that it was the same band performing.

The first of the solo acts started with Damian McGinty’s cover of “The Galway Girl” which got the audience involved with clapping and singing. You could tell by looking at any of the audience’s faces that they are simply enthralled with McGinty’s lustrous voice.

After the myriad of opening songs, the band stopped to provide some entertainment and exposition for the audience. They went on to explain how they are celebrating Celtic Thunder’s 10th anniversary and how excited they are to be celebrating it with us here in Iowa.

The singers’ friendly chemistry between each other is undeniable. The breaks between songs almost seem like stand-up comedy acts because of how naturally funny they act with one another. This harmony between them flowed perfectly into their next song, “The Wild Rover”

Each of the band members started the joyous tune off by encouraging the audience to clap along. Unexpectedly, the singers walked off stage one by one and came back with a different instrument. They entertained the audience by playing their respective instruments in a silly manner; such as McGinty slapping the tambourine against his hip to keep rhythm.

The performers all kept their instruments for the following ditty “Toora Loora Lay.” With an upbeat tune, the audience members gladly danced and sang along with the band.

The members of Celtic Thunder took turns throughout the first half of their set pieces, switching between performances with the full quartet and solo acts.

After a brief intermission, Celtic Thunder once again got the audience members on their feet with the opening of the second half of their show. The singers came out wearing colorful outfits accompanied with a rainbow light show. The band performed a cover of “Celebrate”, originally sung by Kool & The Gang.

Ready to be rocked once again, the audience welcomed back the entertainers with clamorous applause. Once again, McGinty performed a solo that impressed. He sang “Feels like Home” which made everyone in the audience feel like they were in the comfort of their own homes, wherever home may be.

Following McGinty was Byrne singing a beautiful rendition of Bruno Mars’ “When I was Your Man.” The audience wasn’t left to feel sleepy with these lyrical pieces for long though as the members all came out on the stage, quite suddenly, and sang the Monkees’ “I’m a Believer”.

The singers themselves were not the only ones taking stage. The backup band played an instrumental piece entitled “Lannigan’s Ball”. Nicole Hudson, the violinist and fiddle-player, took over the stage and encapsulated the audience; showing that you don’t need a voice like Celtic Thunder’s to rock the stage.

Celtic Thunder wrapped up the show with all of the performers coming out on stage wearing traditional Irish kilts. They treated the audience to a soon-to-be traditional song called “Ireland’s Call.” The song paid tribute to Ireland being the home of Celtic Thunder as well as a land where everyone is welcome.

After the show, I was able to catch up with Chloe Golter and Anna Gardner, two friends who are super-fans of Celtic Thunder.

“It was really good,” Golter said, “I loved a lot of the solo songs.”

Golter and Gardner revealed who their favorite members of the band are, despite some hesitation to choose just one. “Emmet Cahill,” Gardner said with glee.

“I love Damian,” finished Golter. Both of these fans certainly personified what the entire audience felt Wednesday night. It was a night never to be forgotten as it was full of songs, fun and a distinct connection to Irish heritage.