About the show . . . . . .

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Michael Flatley about the Celtic Tiger show . . . . . .
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17th June 2005 Birmingham, UK Celtic Tiger Show report

Written by Linda Brongers         

Please note this review was made before the official premiere, the titles of the various parts of the show are coming from my own imagination.
The review further reflects my personal opinion about the event. Please do not use the contents from this site anywhere else without my prior consent.
I hope you all will enjoyed reading it!
Linda Brongers, email: planetholland@hotmail.com Reactions about this show report are also very welcome at this email address.

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The webpage design and hosting by Pim Maters (Webmaster of CelticTigerlive.nl), all pictures and audio files are copyrighted files.
The official websites of Michael Flatley are located on the "Links" page of this website.

Now that the official titles of the parts of Celtic Tiger are officially know I've put them into this show report, but you also can find the titles given by Linda's imagination right after the official titles 1 t/m 26, shown as "<title> ".

You also can click on the pictures to view them larger.
I hope you will all enjoy it!

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Thanks to Audrey Wigchers for photo's !

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When Yankee Doodle comes to town………

 THE TIGER ROARS! 

 

Preparations 

On Thursday evening 9 June 10.50 pm a message from heaven was sent to me by a very dear Dublin friend. It read: “Hi Linda, are you online? Go to Michael’s site right away if you are – Birmingham tickets up for grabs!” Misfortune prevented me from reading that message immediately. I was traveling for work and didn’t get home until midnight Friday. Of course by then also Judy’s message had arrived in my mailbox and I think the reply was sent within 20 seconds!

Saturday was very stressful as the reply never came. What if all tickets were gone??????? Then Judy’s slightly comforting message came that her computer had collapsed under the sheer volume of e-mails and that those without reply had to try again. I did (more than once I can say!) and Sunday that celebrated message came: “Linda, there’s a ticket waiting for you at the venue”.

Yeahaaaaaaa book the plane!! Get bags ready! Get passport, money, camera! We’re off!

Boy was that a long week. To see Michael dance after waiting and hoping for so long, to see a totally new show, having two Dutch dancers in the troupe, meeting so many friends from all over the world! Sleepless nights, mind absence at work, kids wondering what I was thinking of…..

 

Birmingham

 

Friday morning 17th June 2005. This was going to be a day to remember. Got up at 0600 hrs to get ready realizing that at that very moment hundreds of fans from all over the world, Ireland, Holland, Germany, Austria, UK, USA, even Brazil and more were having the same thoughts, getting on planes, into cars, buses, trains, all heading for the NIA Birmingham, all getting ready for this incredible event, all being personally invited by Michael Flatley to be amongst the very first to see his brand-new show in a private preview. And to see him dance after such a long wait!

My friend Audrey and I walked through the wonderful centre of Birmingham to the NIA to have a look around but there was not much to see yet, everything seemed closed. We then met our Flathead friends Annie, Shanah, Jeannie, Libby, Cleo, Heike, Belinda, Clare and a load of others.

After a nice meal by the venue, we started queuing up by the box office doors at around 4.15. The box office wasn't supposed to open till 5 but we figured we would get first in line to be sure of getting our tickets promptly. Unfortunately the ticket thing was a disaster. At 5 pm we were allowed inside to queue at the box office. 2 box office girls were sat in the booths, but they did not know anything about the tickets for 500 fans! They told us that, as this was a private event, the tickets were to be organized by the promoters, they surely did NOT have them. 

By that time the queue had reached peek length and the time to enter the venue, 6 pm,  had arrived. Lucky those who had been given tickets before – dance schools, friends and family of the dancers, VIP’s. They could after all get in. How we were going to get in in time was beyond me. The doors would close at 6.45? No way would we have tickets by then! AAAAArgh! Ok. Relax. Things would work out. Judy was there and in control. If tickets would not turn up she would personally get us in. Meanwhile that greenhouse location behind the glass of the waiting area in front of the box office was getting to us. Two hours there was not only turning our feet to flames!

Finally some movement. YES, tickets! However, only A to F. Those 500 tickets we had been promised hadn't even been printed, the office staff had to print each ticket out, one at a time, for all 500+ people, from A to Z. Luckily I was a B and could get out quickly. My friends were all beyond F and had to wait much longer. My ticket was Block 3 F 120. A great seat at the right hand side of the stage, first level up, front row, close enough to see the dancer’s faces and at stage level. More or less all 500 fan seats were in that area.

The stalls were filled up with mostly kids from dance schools, along with a mixture of Irish dance celebrities and VIP’s. We spotted Bernadette Flynn, Damien O’Kane, Ronan Hardiman, Des Bailey, Kelly Bailey-Hendry, John Carey, Sarah Clarke, Stephen Scarrif, Stephen Brunning, Tony Lundon, Fiona Kidd, Chris Hannon, Fiona Harold, Dearbhla Lennon, Daire Nolan, Catriona Hale, Connor Smith, Michael Donnellan, Emma Holtham, Maire Duffy, Martin Flitton, Lisa Murphy (yes, they’re back together!) Micheal Edwards, Ciaran Devlin, Owen & Denis McAuley and surely there were lots more.

It was a very intimate event anyway. Everybody seemed to know everyone. Everywhere you would see dance teachers, dancers, adjudicators, fans, musicians, saying hello, hugging, yelling. It was like the biggest family gathering ever, but after all, that’s what it actually was, a gathering of the Flathead family. Through the buzz you could feel the excitement growing!

The arena was pretty full, apart from the seats which had been kept empty because of the filming of the show. This was going to be the Celtic Tiger DVD performance and I spotted at least 15 cameras, some in camera cranes, some on rails, some fixed. Before the show started ladders were hanging from the ceiling and it turned out two lighting men had to climb up these ladders and be stuck up there in the heat for the duration of the show. What a job!

At 7.30 a guy walked onto the stage to stir the excitement a little more. Hi guys! (screams, loads of them) He first got a wave going through the venue then was telling us this show would be filmed to become the official Celtic Tiger DVD (didn’t we know) so he expected us to shout, yell, make as much noise as possible, stand up and dance and cheer all we wanted and that he would be disappointed if we wouldn’t. Well, we would anyway!

Then darkness turned upon us. Tension. Excitement, The Final Wait.

 

Celtic Tiger

First half

1 The heartbeat of the tiger

Suddenly a giant pair of bright red glossy lips lit up a huge video screen filling up the back of the stage. The lips spoke: "There's no place like home". It was followed by the reflection of a giant heart monitor and the sound of a heart beat speeding up. In the faint light the stage seems huge but empty with two scaffolds left (fiddlers) and right (drum section). Smaller screens left and right projected tiger faces.
 

 

2 Dancing in the Dark

"Romans* "  

In the darkness some 30/40 dancers came marching onto the stage and began hammering away in perfect unison with growing speed. There was no music in support. Minimal lights at feet level could only make us guess who it was leading this troupe but when the lights came - yes it was Michael as we had all hoped. And WOW did he look FIT! Yeahaaa da man is back! This is what we were all waiting for and had hoped for! We, the crowd, everybody was going crazy!!!! There was more noise than at the winning goal of a world cup!  What a welcome this must have been for the man who loves to be on stage so much. All the pain, endless hours of training, getting this show together, all the organizing, it all fell in place that moment. Man did he look happy! Michael was dressed as a Roman centurion in full armour, a spectacular outfit, and his troupe of Roman soldiers were dressed equally stunning. They were doing a Planet Ireland-like dance with complex and precise ever changing rhythms, and every now and then the troupe dancing paused when Michael did some spectacular solo dancing, a bit like his Feet of Flames solo but using the entire stage! Michael was having some problems with his right shin plate (luckily this wasn’t a Roman war!), couldn’t fix it and had to tear it off and throw it aside. After this breathtaking opening the centurion marched off with his soldiers.


3 St. Patrick

"Snakes* "

<< Click here to download a Music sample of this Celtic Tiger number >>

Click HERE for the songtekst of this number.

Then the screen showed a huge red apple and a snake writhing around a branch to the left of it, pointed at the apple. The background image changed to a giant cathedral. A few female dancers dressed in red suits were doing wriggly snaky moves and dances. We hear the first new Ronan Hardiman music of the evening, dramatic Gregorian chanting. It grabs you and drags you on stage amidst these snakes as 8 dancing monks appear,  dressed in long white silky robes with celtic designs on them. These barefooted monks dance ballet-style with big leaps and surround the snake chicks, forcing them into a hole in the ground. It’s a wonderful dance, very theatrical and dramatic.

 

4 The sleeping tiger

"Song"

Click HERE for the songtekst of this number.

To catch some breath Eimear Quinn appeared in a long silver dress, her long blond hair hanging loose over her shoulders, against the background of a projected purple light. It was the first musical interlude of the show. The fairy-like song is about the struggles of the people but the words could hardly be understood, there definitely was a sound problem. We know the problem is not her voice (she won Eurovision 1996 with “The Voice” by Brendan Graham) even though it sounded weak and lacking in power. Yet her voice was so pure and clear, surely this problem will be resolved. Somewhere in the middle of the song there is a beautiful whistle solo.

 



5 The Vikings

"Vikings*"

<< Click here to download a Music sample of this Celtic Tiger number >>

As she left the backdrop turned into a crashing ocean, and four dancers dressed in white with huge bird wing-like headpieces were performing a sort of ballet dance while six other male dancers came into view rowing onto the stage with oars in the formation of a Viking ship wearing Viking horned helmets. They were the invaders from the North, to be fought by the Irish men. The video screen had turned to massive castle ruins. The Irish men –one appeared on stilts and had a huge shield hanging by his side!- fought the invaders by dance. One red haired Viking Queen did a solo with haunting pipe music, then 12 colorful girls did a graceful slip jig to bedazzle the invaders. 11 Viking invaders then retaliated with a hard shoe dance. Meanwhile the four violinists had come down onto the stage as well – YES, Cora Smyth!- and the fight built up to a massive finale. This is very hard to write down in words but the boys and girls were forming lines and mixed, did solo’s, danced together in complicated patterns, all very exciting. Then they were gone and the invaders driven out.

 

6 Celtic Fire

"Flute Jam - reprise"

<< Click here to download a Music sample of this Celtic Tiger number >

The drummer kicks off the second musical interval, joined by the four violinists dressed in flashy red tops and wild black skirts. They were flanked by two guitarists one of them John Colohan from Furry Village, Ger Fahy’s band. Michael joins them for a “Celtic Fire”-like flute jam. A very powerful upbeat piece of music! Michael is wearing black leather pants and a black leather waistcoat (yes, a rare view of da man’s –VERY nice- bare chest during this show). This one again shows what a superb flautist Michael is. This piece of music drove a lot of dancers in the audience off their chairs especially the little girls in the audience who surely deserved their moment of glory in the DVD for that.


7 The garden of eden

"Bug dance"

<< Click here to download a Music sample of this Celtic Tiger number >>

Totally in contrast is the next piece. A projected field of huge blossoming flowers in every imaginable shade of red, orange and yellow was the spectacular colorful setting for a “bug dance”. 14 female dancers dressed as butterflies, with huge wings, and flowers danced a lovely and sweet, visually beautiful (soft shoe) dance to relaxing Ronan Hardiman forest music. It’s an idyllic picture of life in Ireland. They lined up, darted out again, came in pairs to be tied together with laces by other bugs like bees and bumblebees, separated again all holding some laces and coming together again, then they all bent down and the flowers in the back changed to a green field, while a second –smaller-video screen had been placed in front of the huge screen, showing a pretty little white cottage. The butterflies and bugs disappeared through the door of the cottage.

 

8 The redcoats    ,    9 The famine    ,    10 Bloody Sunday

"Rule Britannia"

<< Click here to download a Music sample of this Celtic Tiger number > >

What a shock when suddenly the idyll was disrupted as a regiment of 16 British white wigged soldiers appeared, dressed in red tunics with big golden lion prints on their chest, black trousers underneath. After marching through and apparently having taken over the land they were lined up and there was a thundering chorus of “Rule Britannia”. After that the British soldiers did some Irish dancing which in the historic context I thought was quite hilarious – after all, at the time the British detested Irish dancing. Then the army captain stepped towards the cottage and set it ablaze to evict the Irish from their house. We see the burning cottage on the screen, the scene looks so real, you can almost feel the flames. The soldiers were posted in rows left and right of the cottage door arrogantly watching over the dozens of ragged Irish peasants, men and women, staggering out of the cottage. In a dramatic ballet, wounded and sick, they turned to the soldiers for help but were kicked back, hit and thrown on the ground – NO MERCY! While the cottage was burning, spirits of the dead floated out of the cottage into heaven. The last one to emerge from that blazing cottage with dignity and pride was the priest, none less than Michael himself! Folded hands, a rosary around his left hand, he was praying aloud, “God…….deliver us from YOU!” As a repercussion for such boldness he was immediately surrounded by the soldiers and shot. Father Michael falls onto the ground and the lights blackout.

 

<< Click here to download a Music sample of this Celtic Tiger number >>

Click HERE for the songtekst of this number

 

 

11 Four green fields

"Four Green fields"


Against the backdrop of an air view over Ireland and it’s graves Paul Harrington, former Eurovision winner –1994- and pianist at Lillie’s Bordello, treated us to an emotional version of
"Four Green Fields".

His appearance was that of a rebel and he sang with a very powerful voice. Again there was a sound problem and the words were not clear but here they are:


What did I have, said the fine old woman
What did I have, this proud old woman did say
I had four green fields, each one was a jewel
But strangers came and tried to take them from me
I had fine strong sons, who fought to save my jewels
They fought and they died, and that was my grief said she

Long time ago, said the fine old woman
Long time ago, this proud old woman did say
There was war and death, plundering and pillage
My children starved, by mountain, valley and sea
And their wailing cries, they shook the very heavens
My four green fields ran red with their blood, said she

What have I now, said the fine old woman
What have I now, this proud old woman did say
I have four green fields, one of them's in bondage
In stranger's hands, that tried to take it from me
But my sons had sons, as brave as were their fathers
My fourth green field will bloom once again said she

 

Croke Park*

When he finished a Gaelic Football player appeared on the left playing with his football. The video screen showed cheering crowds happily watching the game. Suddenly the crowds were gone and a British tank appeared, the monstrous gun barrel covering the entire screen. The barrel pointed at the football player and fired unexpectedly with an enormous bang leaving us in shock.


 

12 A call to the arms  ,   13 The 1916 rising   ,  14 The banchee   ,   15 A nation once again

"Easter Uprising*"

The British soldiers marched back on stage and lined up in the familiar V-shape, when suddenly rebel Michael (brown pants, brown waistcoat, bare chested) came racing out to do spectacular dance routines fighting the soldiers. The audience was going wild when Michael was doing amazing solos, each solo leading to the defeat of one of the soldiers. He was backed by the thunder of drums, the screen showing lightning flashing through a dark and gloomy sky.  Pipe music and projected Irish fields follow, while Michael, looking determined and angry, returned with a Bodhran (Yes, he plays it!) to support his troupe with the beat of his drum in the next scene: While a giant projected Dublin Post office is besieged by English soldiers an angry line of Irish rebels slowly emerged from the back of the stage. This is very dramatic and powerful and leads to the most spectacular fighting dance scene I have ever seen. I seemed to recognize the tunes of “A soldiers song” when all hell broke loose. While the post office was being shelled and explosions and fighting scenes were dominating the backdrop rebels and soldiers fought their terrible fight, the English soldiers getting the upper hand, being beaten back by the spirited Irish rebels, pushing forward and being overrun again.The dance/rhythm patterns were complicated, fast, and powerful and while the screen was showing massive explosions the fight got really tough. Then suddenly things turned quiet against the backdrop of a burning Post Office, everyone dead or dying on the floor, the stage covered in smoke. From the ashes and smoke an angel emerged, singing a beautiful angelic hymn, just tones, no words, while floating over the battle field. While she disappeared into the ground the English had disappeared off the stage. The football player returned and lead by Michael the complete troupe walked forward in their rebel clothes singing “A Nation Once Again”, Paul Harrington leading. With the Irish colors, huge and waving, in the back, the audience rose to their feet instantly to join in. Thousands of voices singing this song was an emotional and exciting finale to the first half of this rather politically charged first half of the show. As the Irish in the audience waved their flags with pride, Act 1 ended.

A nation once again,
A nation once again,
And Ireland, long a province, be
A Nation once again!

 

Celtic Tiger

Interval

 

The interval was a feast of recognition. Familiar faces everywhere! While saying hello to many there was just enough time to get some drinks and be seated again. All the time there was gorgeous flute music playing and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was Michael’s music from the long awaited new cd! When almost everybody was back in place this guy came back on stage to urge the slow ones back to their seats, as the show wouldn’t begin until everybody was there. So fasten our seatbelts, we’re off again!

 

Celtic Tiger

Second half

16 Freedom

"Captain Flatley"

The second half started with air views of Ireland, changing into an airstrip with a huge airplane. While the plane was taking off a solo dancer appeared wearing a green/orange Aer Lingus-like air hostess uniform, sunglasses and very high heels. She did some step dancing as far as possible with such shoes until the plane was airborne and flying high. Boy were we flying high when Captain Flatley appeared on stage, dressed in dark blue with gold braid and peaked hat. As if it wasn’t enough to see him in this gorgeous outfit he posed for a moment to slowly put on his shades (AAAARGH! Totally and utterly sexy!) then walked on to be joined by 14 male dancers in similar pilot outfits. The guys positioned themselves in two lines front and back with the girl in the middle, against a backdrop of bright US city lights and crowded streets. For a moment Captain Flatley turned to the air hostess just to give her a tiny bit of attention then the guys lifted her off her feet above their heads forming an airplane flying over (projected) clouds. Very effective! Passing a screen filling Statue of Liberty they arrive in America. Once landed she is a transformed woman, confident and sexy, ready for a new start. Off come the glasses and the hat, and she does a wild kind of dance. Huge flames on the screen and powerful “Stolen Kiss” guitar music surround a naughty striptease - off come her gloves, her jacket and her silver top revealing a bikini top with stars and stripes. Then off comes the skirt to reveal a tiny slip striped white and red in front with a bright blue bum. Yes, the high heels stay on – ok guys, you can have some fun too!

17 A new world

"Medley"

<< Click here to download a Music sample of this Celtic Tiger number >>

With the stars and stripes projected in the back 4 guys dressed in white carried huge white flags across the stage (A surrender to the American way of life?). What came next kicked off the feel good feeling created by the rest of the show and was a carnival of dance and music, showing various styles that influenced dance in the US. First a pair of Latin dancers in bright red outfits, followed by a pair dressed in white top to toe dancing ballroom, jives and American tap. Then two guys doing an amazing street dance act and a Spanish pair showing off Flamenco style. Last in line were two ballet dancers, graceful and refined. Then all of a sudden 30 or more Irish dancers exploded onto the stage, very much like the 1994 Riverdance performance, to bookmark the dramatic impact of those few minutes. Men in colorful satin shirts, beautifully dressed girls, all took part in this dance explosion. One by one they did their solo’s showing off and impressing one another - and us! At the end all dancers, Irish and other, danced Irish Dancing together in a big happy finale.

 

18 The last rose"

<< Click here to download a Music sample of this Celtic Tiger number >>

Who wouldn’t get goose bumps listening to Whispering wind, or be moved to tears.

Who wouldn’t fly away on the wings of that masterpiece. What comes next may stir your senses even more: While 2 ballet dancers stand on a platform in front of a projected painting of an old castle, looking like they are part of the painting, Michael appears in a spotless white tuxedo, his undone bow tie hanging down, to play a wonderful version of "The Last Rose”, a slow Irish air. The flute he plays is a rare flute that was made in London in 1836, made of cocus wood and silver. While he was playing the ballet dancers, dressed in dark blue and silver white costumes, stepped down from the platform to dance their love story, and music and dance are one. When the last tunes melted away the ballet dancers had returned to their painting, their motion frozen.


19 Celtic kittens

"Tigerdance"

< Click here to download a Music sample of this Celtic Tiger number >>

Next the Celtic Tiger was definitely released. Against a whirling red and purple backdrop the four fiddlers wearing beautiful tiger dresses played a fast upbeat jig. Playing faster and faster 5 dancers dressed in tight tiger cat suits leapt out and came crawling forward to do an exciting tiger dance. While a giant pair of tiger eyes was looking at us they were joined by two boys in similar tiger suits racing across the stage like a tornado, sometimes jumping onto the scaffolds. Their dance ended with a big leap of the tiger troupe, all landing in splits.

 

20 Capone

"Feet of Flames III"

<< Click here to download a Music sample of this Celtic Tiger number >> 

Who doesn’t remember Michael’s giant silhouette projected against the screen at the FOF Hyde Park 1998 performance? So impressive, this one man who was so much wanted on stage, this heap of energy ready to burst out, the audience going crazy! The tiger brings him back, his silhouette against a scarlet screen, wearing a wide brimmed hat. Jazzy music. His tap dance fast, varied, complicated and seemingly effortless. The man was flying and the audience went wild. Then he came out and jumped onto a raised platform in the centre of the stage, dressed in a pinstriped 30-s Chicago gangster suit, including the white shoes, a bright red rose stuck in his buttonhole. Then he began to dance, an evolved version of the last Feet of Flames solo. No high kicks or clicks, but fast and furious footwork in complicated patterns. An overhead camera projected his moves on the big screens at the sides of the stage. It was exciting and maybe even better than the best moments he ever had before! Faster and faster he danced, smoke rising from the platform. But the heat was rising and the platform caught fire. Yet this one cool dude was dancing even faster until also for him things were getting too hot and he jumped off, just before the platform exploded with massive pyros that made us all jump! The bikini girl then handed him a machine gun, he pointed at the audience and started shooting left to right, each shot visualized by an explosion bursting from the front of the stage.

Gangster clan

<< Click here to download a Music sample of this Celtic Tiger number >>

<< Click here to a second download a Music sample of this Celtic Tiger number >>


Michael left the stage while 12 female dancers appeared, dressed in white suits with black stripes, white hats, doing a heavy shoe routine to jazzy music. The backdrop was vague and colorful sort of like Broadway and city lights. The girls danced very fast and lined up to welcome Michael back, who then did a great American tap solo. Together they were speeding up, Michael in front of the line of dancers, their moves fresh, powerful and exciting. At the last step the girls menacingly formed guns with their two hands, pointed at the audience. Michael in front, left arm at his side, stretched right arm with his hand forming a gun, also pointed at the audience. (Was this aimed at the unfair critics he has had over the years?

                                                                                      

21 Forever Free


Wearing a pink and silver dress with silver shoes the fair haired second singer then passionately sang “Forever Free”, which sounded like it could be a George Graham song. A very sensitive song, but the words were not clear.

 



22 Cowboy cheerleaders

"S.T.A.R.S: Stars and Stripes"

Then against the backdrop of a giant stars and stripes 6 boys and girls whirled onto the stage dressed in red white and blue (The mini skirts striped red/white/blue and the tops blue/white; the boys wearing blue trousers and red/white/blue t-shirts). They seemed to disappear only to appear in greater numbers (10 boys and 10 girls). In the back big stars were criss-crossing the screen. This was a  whirlwind of dancers enthusiastically following exciting and complicated patterns with boundless energy. Surely these patterns were clearly visible from the screens thanks to the overhead camera but It was too hard to move your eyes away from the stage. We’ll have to wait for the DVD for that. More dancers seemed to join them and there must have been at least 30 of them doing this brilliant dance. The music was exciting and fun and somewhere in the middle there was a crisp banjo solo which debuted the Yankee Doodle theme, a theme that would be back repeatedly.

 

History

While the band played the screen showed the history of the Irish people including the Potato famine and the mass exodus to America as well as numerous famous people linked with Ireland from past and present. Images of American presidents (Kennedy several times) alternated with great Irish men like De Valera (and possibly Michael Collins) but also with famous Irish actors – a huge portrait of Pierce Brosnan - and sporting heroes. Every image drew cheers from the crowd, the loudest one arising when a screen size picture of the recently deceased Pope appeared. Surely in our thoughts Michael was to be up there too! The Queen Mary sailed across the screen as images of New York appeared. The Irish colors, seamlessly coupled with the stars and stripes, were flying in unison. Then the shuttle was launched and the first man on the moon planted the Irish Tricolor (very funny!).

 

23 These colours don't run

24 Yankee Doodle dandy*

Against projected images of America the bikini girl appeared again and paraded across the stage. In the middle of a projected ticker-tape parade troupes were welcomed by the cheering crowds and 12 navy soldiers marched across the stage while the backdrop changed to the Irish flag. Their jackets similar to the aircrew outfit, only this time the hat and trousers were white in stead of blue. Then  Michael marched his troupe back on stage, all in crisp outfits wearing snow-white trousers and stars and stripes tops (the tops were horizontally striped red/white on the left, the right was bright blue with silver stars, the boys wearing white shirts underneath). Their hats were reflecting the stars and stripes as well. Michael’s outfit was slightly different, white shirt, white trousers, bright blue waistcoat with silver stars, white short jacket with red/white sleeve ends/front and bright blue collar. His hat was as the others. All were wearing stars and stripes bow ties, Michael’s mainly striped red/white, the others mainly blue. The troupe was led into a Victory kind of dance, and Michael did a smashing solo, all with Yankee Doodle music. In front of screen filling stars and stripes the dancers all lined up, similar to the Lord of the Dance line up, 26 of them, performing a big finale. In stead of the raised arms this line up one after another saluted their leader, perfectly disciplined up left to right then down right to left. Michael, so happy to be up there, was magic. Then he got everybody on stage, the Latin dancers, the Vikings, the musicians, all of the dancers. There and then we possibly witnessed the happiest man on the planet as he stepped back to let his cast take the applause. You could hear him think – do things get any better than this? No, they surely don’t!

25 Celtic fire II

"More!"

The audience went absolutely mad at this scene, up off their seats, screaming, shouting, stamping, applauding, making enough noise to blow off the NIA roof! Nobody could accept that this had been the last main dance of the evening, we just needed more. Minutes passed by, an intolerable wait. More!

 

"St Patrick’s Day"
 

No dancers but guitarist John Colohan appeared on stage and kicked off what seemed to be a rock version of St Patrick’s Day. First playing with the fiddlers but then brilliantly going solo, followed by a fantastic drum solo by Jay Duffy. They were stirring us up even further and miles away they must have heard that we were not going to leave without having seen Michael and the troupe one more time.

 


 

26 The Celtic Tiger

"Reprise"

<< Click here to download a Music sample of this Celtic Tiger number >>

 

< Click here to download a Music sample of this Celtic Tiger number >>

While the musicians were playing their last tones and the audience was shouting and screaming an endless line of dancers (30 at least) marched up from the back of the stage. Again they were wearing completely new outfits, this time gorgeous tuxedo’s (only Michael’s including the tails, and white shoes) white socks and bow ties. This was the encore we had been waiting for, a reprise of the Yankee Doodle routine, including the salute, with some slight changes here and there. Memorable was the frozen moment when they all had one leg stretched forward, slightly bending over and holding their index finger to their lips as if to say – hey guys, I am so glad you’re here but this one’s still a secret, don’t tell anyone (oh, my conscience, should I be writing this report at all?). Somehow that was so intimate. We’ll have to wait and see if that move is still in at the official premiere… The audience was wild, one more time!!!! And only the way Michael can do it he was running around, his troupe in position, laughing, provoking the audience – one more time? Yes, YES! We got our second encore, our third, our fourth, fifth…. I lost count. We could not let go. Finally he signaled the inevitable last encore, unforgettably impressive and spectacular, as behind the dancers pyros and fireworks were blazing diagonally across the stage. A big thank you for the audience and the dancers and the stage blacked out. In the midst of the cheers, shouts and screams the place then suddenly felt very silent. What an incredible evening, what a rollercoaster of emotions. This certainly had been the greatest show on earth!

 




"One more time"

What more can be said about this show. It is very different to what Michael has done before. There is no good versus bad throughout, no lead dancers except Michael, no romance nor sexually charged acts, no fairy tale thread. He promised us something different and he delivered. The routines were spectacular, the choreography taken further than all he did before. The costumes were incredible with superb colors and quality of the finish, and the music top class. Michael Flatley has every reason to be so proud at his creation. The troupe must be the best on the planet, as Michael says. So in-sync, so sharp and slick, and so light and energetic, exploding with joy on the stage from the first moment to the last. More versatile than ever as this is not purely Irish dance but has lots of other dance elements in it. As for Michael, what an incredible show man. After the show we were told that Michael was ten times fitter than any of them – practicing in a big fleece when they were taking a break puffing and sweating. His performances were amazing, very complex and if at all possible faster and sharper than ever. He appeared in almost every number and how he does all this dancing in very heavy clothes is beyond me. Playing two flute numbers, playing the bodhran, even singing with the troupe. And besides his performing skills he created, choreographed, directed, produced and financed the show. He definitely is the best dancer in the world but besides that he definitely is the greatest showman and entertainer on the planet.

It is quite courageous to have such a politically charged first half but it must be said that he does it with skill and taste and unbiased. No one should be disturbed by viewing these facts of history that are presented to reflect the strong spirit of the Irish that “may be bruised but never broken” (Phil Coulter). You can easily just enjoy the dancing and choreography, looking past the symbolism and political message, but the message is an important one aimed at the survivor spirit of the Irish, the true Celtic Tiger. As Michael said in an interview just after the Birmingham show: "The Celtic Tiger is often referred to in the financial pages as Ireland's incredible economic success over the last decade. But I see it as something much more than that, I see it as the heart and soul and spirit of the Irish people. When they got to America, in the beginning they were treated like slaves... and they rose again to become the John F. Kennedys of the New World. It's the show that means the most to be because it's a celebration of the Irish spirit. Somebody had to finally tell that story. I'm Irish-American but my heart is in Ireland."


Audiences from all over the world should be able to see this show. There is so much to take in that we would need to see the show again and again to get through to the deeper meaning of it’s elements. Even then we would probably still miss out on some, but we’ll have to cherish that as it’s charm, to never be done experiencing the show as there will always be something new to see, hear and feel every time we see it.


What an incredible and generous gesture from Michael to invite all of us to share this very special event with him. I have never heard of any celebrity to make such a gesture and probably never will again. What a gent to come out after the show to greet and hug his fans. Birmingham, 17th June 2005, will never be forgotten by any of us!


* (The Romans never did actually invade Ireland but by 81 A.D., the Romans had sent a relatively small force to help an exiled Irish king regain his throne in the hope of ensuring good relations. In respect of the Celts in general, Romans feared them as warriors and only overcame them with great difficulty and a lot of dirty politics.  The Celts were then absorbed into the Roman legions and became highly prized fighters and mercenaries ).


* (The legend about how St Patrick – 5th century- drove the snakes from Ireland: The story goes that during the season of Lent, St. Patrick climbed a 2510-foot high peak (now called Croagh Patrick) in order to fast and pray. By the time the Lenten season had ended, all of the snakes of Ireland had gathered to the peak. From there, St. Patrick drove the snakes over the edge and into the sea below, forever ridding Ireland of snakes)

 

*( The first appearance of the Vikings on the Irish coast is recorded in 795. Thereafter the Norsemen made frequent plundering raids, sometimes far inland. In 838 the Vikings seized and fortified two ports; Annagasson and Dublin. In 840 they invaded the north of the country. These invaders were driven out, but meanwhile the Norse rulers of Dublin extended their power. In 914 Waterford was conquered and four years later the Vikings possessed Limerick too. The decline of Norse power in Ireland began when they lost Limerick in 968, and was finally effected when the Scandinavian allies of Dublin were defeated by "High King Brian Boru" – a giant in legend - at the battle of Clondarf in 1014)

 

*( On November 21, 1920 Croke Park in North Dublin was the scene of a massacre. While people were watching a Dublin vs. Tipperary football match British soldiers raided the ground, shooting indiscriminately into the crowd killing 13. The dead included 11 spectators and 2 players. This massacre, which became known as Bloody Sunday, was a reprisal for the assassination of 14 British intelligence officers by Michael Collins’ G Squad/IRA earlier that day)

 

*(The Easter Uprising of 1916 was a pivotal event in Ireland's recent history. Before the Easter Uprising, few in Ireland were overt supporters of the rebels. After the 1916 Uprising, those involved achieved the status of heroes. The General Post Office is now most associated with the rebels The rebels based their headquarters at the GPO in what is now O’Connell Street. Patrick Pearse announced the creation of the Republic of Ireland from the Post Office)

 

*(Tradition has it that Yankee Doodle had its origins in the French and Indian War when New England troops joined Braddock's forces at Niagara. In contrast to the spit and polish of the British army, the colonials were a motley crew, some wearing buckskins and furs. Dr. Richard Schuckburg, a British Army surgeon reportedly wrote the tune ridiculing the Americans in the early 1750s. Some scholars believe it is a variant of the nursery rhyme Lucy Locket. Despite the fact it began as ridicule, the colonials took the song for their own. Countless versions and parodies evolved, many of which made fun of their officers, including George Washington. These verses are included at the end of the tune. When Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown it is said while the British played “The world upside down”, the Americans played Yankee Doodle)

 

Program Book list of numbers:

Act 1:

The Heartbeat of the Tiger
Dancing in the Dark
St Patrick
The Sleeping Tiger
The Vikings
Celtic Fire
The Garden of Eden
The Red Coats
The Famine
Four Green Fields
Bloody Sunday
A Call to Arms
The 1916 Rising
The Banshee
A Nation Once Again

Act two:


Freedom
A New World
The Last Rose
Celtic Kittens
Capone
Forever Free
Cowboy Cheerleaders
These Colors Don't Run
Yankee Doodle Dandee
Celtic Fire II
The Celtic Tiger

 

The dancers: 

Michael Flatley

Lisa Anderson
Cherie Butler
Ciaran Connolly
Martin Connolly
Siobhan Connolly
Arlene Cooke
Sarah Doherty
Alison Epson
David Folan
Odette Galea
Liam Gilligan
Jason Gorman
Damon Griffiths
Cassandra Halloran
Mark Hennessy
Niall Holly
Joanne Kavanagh
Alan Kenefick
Katie Kerrigan
Maeve Madden
Debbie Maquire
Rachel Martin
Perri McCall
Kathleen McCarthy
Brian McEnteggart
Leigh Ann McKenna
Kevin McVittie
Niamh O'Brien
Damien O'Dochartaigh
Roisin O'Donnell
Zoltan Papp
Gary Pender
Chris Piper
Katie Pomeret
Sarah Redmond
Claire Regan
Margaret Revis
Stefan Setiawan
Natalie Somerville
Keagan van Dooren
Adrian Walker
Stephen Walker
Justin Walsh

Musicians:
John Colohan
Brenda Curtin
Jason Duffy
Maire Egan
Niamh Gallagher
Paul Harrington
Aongus Ralson
Cora Smyth

Vocalists:
Paul Harrington
Eimear Quinn