Celtic Thunder Rumbles Into Moncton

Celtic Thunder 1

There’s no stopping the Celtic Thunder train.

The wildly popular Irish vocal group returns to Metro Moncton for a performance at Casino New Brunswick Tuesday evening.

Released this past February, the band’s latest record Mythology is the seventh Celtic Thunder album to have debuted in the No. 1 position on the Billboard World Music Chart. The group’s tenth full-length album, it was the band’s fifth consecutive release to have made a No. 1 debut.

Accompanying the Mythology album is a companion DVD of the same name. Filmed last year at Dublin’s Helix Theatre, the DVD captures Celtic Thunder’s unique blend of emotive and dramatic traditional and contemporary music.

Comprised of six male soloists, Emmet Cahill, Keith Harkin, Ryan Kelly, George Donaldson, Neil Byrne and Colm Keegan, the members of the band perform both solo and ensemble numbers. Complementing the six talented vocalists in the band is a wide array of musical instruments including strings, guitars, percussion, whistles, pipes and more.

In addition to original material, Celtic Thunder has earned a reputation for performing an eclectic mix of songs ranging from traditional Irish songs to international pop hits like Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound Of Silence,” the Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” and “Every Breath You Take” by the Police.

Speaking from Los Angeles where he is currently writing material for his second solo record, Celtic Thunder’s Keith Harkin says that he believes Mythology is one of the strongest releases in the group’s catalogue.

“I have been with Celtic Thunder from the start and personally I believe Mythology is the best show that we have ever done,” he says. “At this stage of the game, we really wanted to step up the production aspect of the show itself. We are all pretty excited by what we have to bring to people in Moncton. It has been almost a year since we last toured so there is a general feeling of excitement to get back on the road.

Asked what he feels sets the Mythology tour apart from previous tours, Keith says that it all boils down to the songs. In addition to performing songs as a group, he says that Celtic Thunder musical director David Munro has also incorporated individual song suggestions from the band members.

“With this show, we had a much bigger part to play in what songs were being performed. That is obviously rather important because when you are doing the same show night after night and tour after tour, it can become monotonous for all involved. It is important to keep the show fresh for the band as well as the audience.”

At 27 years old, the last thing Harkin wants for himself or his band mates is to somehow feel limited by what he is doing.

This past spring Harkin was scheduled to perform an intimate show at Moncton’s Tide & Boar in support of his self-titled solo debut, until illness forced a last-minute cancellation.

He consistently spends six or more months on the road each year. You can’t really blame the artist if he didn’t necessarily know whether he was coming or going. Yet for all of the time spent away from loved ones and the lack of feeling grounded in one specific place, Keith says that he wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.

“Being on tour definitely takes a toll on your mind and your body. But at the same token, I have been doing this since the time I was 20 years old. It is really all I have known for my adult life.

“When you’re out on tour for four months at a time, you end up needing to look at things a little differently than some people would. Touring is a strange bubble to be in. All you can do is try to find your own space amidst everything happening around you. If anything, one of the hardest things about being on tour is not being on tour and trying to be normal again for a brief period of time,” Keith laughs. “It really doesn’t matter though because I absolutely love it.”

You just need a quick glance at Celtic Thunder’s upcoming tour schedule to realize that Keith will not have to worry about trying to feel like a regular, non-touring person anytime soon. Once their run of 16 Canadian shows wraps up in Halifax on Thursday, Celtic Thunder embarks on a tour of the United States that finishes in Seattle at the start of December.

Though it may sound terribly cliché, hectic tour schedules aside, it is the fans who help keep Keith and Celtic Thunder moving confidently forward.

“We are so very lucky to be well-received everywhere we go,” says Keith. “People seem to genuinely love the show, which helps to make our job the best thing ever. We want people coming to see the show to enjoy it as much as we love performing. It is hard to beat performing for an enthusiastic audience. Luckily, that is exactly what we are greeted with virtually everywhere we play.”

Article published in the September 23, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript