Reviewer: Ben Anderson
There is no doubt Celtic Woman is a highly commercial venture, a more culturally sophisticated version of a girl group.
Created by the former musical director of Riverdance, the Irish vocal group treads the path of the Dixie Chicks or string quarter Bond by bringing glamour and high production values to a previously niche musical genre.
This combination has been a global box office success and Perth was no exception as an enthusiastic crowd packed the Riverside Theatre for the final show of their Australian tour on Friday night.
Singers Lisa Lambe, Susan McFadden and Mairead Carlin opened the show with Awakening, a soaring ballad that set the tone for the night.
Whether singing traditional Gaelic-language tunes or familiar songs like Danny Boy and Amazing Grace the three singers voices blended exquisitely, showing those of us not lucky enough to be part of the Irish diaspora just what the Emerald Isle is all about.
Not being a Gaelic speaker myself, I asked a knowledgeable audience member the meaning behind a particularly lively song called Dulaman. The fact it was about starving peasants gathering seaweed to eat shows the Irish can turn anything into a hummable song.
Just as tight as the lead singers was the band, particularly the two-man percussion section.
Each drummer had not so much as a kit as a complete drum arsenal, ranging from booming lambeg drums to timpanis to the smaller bodhrans.
The definite audience favourite was violinist Mairead Nesbitt, who performed several of what can only be described as epic fiddle solos.
The pocket-sized dynamo had just as many moves as Angus Young except she performed them in a ball gown and high heels.
The second half of the show stepped away from Irish music to feature more standards pop songs.
These included a heartfelt rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Water and I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables.
The former fitted well with the uplifting tone of the show while the melancholy subject matter of the later song didn't quite match the slick and stylish nature of the performers.
The show ended with the folk song The Parting Glass with backing vocals performed by the Australian Girls Choir.
This number showcased what has made Celtic Woman such a success, combining massed voices with the pipes and drums associated Irish music for a suitably rousing climax.
While this Anglo Saxon reviewer was not as moved by the music as the some of the distinctly Irish audience members, there is no doubt this was a polished, professional show by a group of performers on top of their game.