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On the same day the Boston Celtics rolled to a 3-0 lead in the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals, Celtic Woman were victorious in winning over a Utah crowd that cannot get enough of the wholesome, family-friendly Irish musical revue.
Just as in the rest of the world, the tour is escalating to bigger and bigger venues. Two years ago, the theatrical show performed at Kingsbury Hall.
In 2009, the show played at the E Center in West Valley Center. On Saturday, the even larger EnergySolutions Arena hosted the phenomenon. At this rate, the tour could quite easily fill the enormous Rice-Eccles Stadium on June 3 now that their fellow Irish friends U2 have just cancelled.
Celtic Woman, which happened to celebrate its 500th show Saturday, is centered around four talented women singers and solo violinist Máiréad Nesbitt, with the women supported by six backup singers, two percussionists, and five other band members. Conceived by David Downes, former musical director of another Irish stage phenomenon, "Riverdance," the show features Irish music that is as watered down as Galway Bay.
That is not a dig at the well-produced show, which looked and sounded great inside EnergySolutions Arena, with a dynamic light show amplifying the drama. The show delivered what the crowd wanted: slick, orchestrated, gorgeous sounding music that was as clean as Ivory soap.
The four featured sopranos -- Chloë Agnew, Lynn Hilary, Lisa Kelly and Alex Sharpe -- sounded best when they performed together. The show conceivably could be made better if it were called "Celtic Women," rather than "Celtic Woman," since most of the solo numbers in the show were dull and slowed momentum. But when the four harmonized, without any backing instrumentation, on "Danny Boy," the ethereal, angelic version was the night's emotional highlight.
New this year was world champion bagpiper Anthony Byrne, who added richness to Agnew's solo on"Galway Bay" and to the quartet's moving version of "Amazing Grace. The two percussion players added much needed rhythmic intensity on drum kits that would have dwarfed Motley Crue's infamous drum sets.
While the four sopranos were often indistinguishable from one another, varying only in slight vocal ranges, Nesbitt energized the show every time she stepped on the stage, dancing and whirling around with her violin, adding showmanship and personality the singers often lacked.
Beautiful voices with pitch-perfect acoustics deliver what crowd expects
Where » EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City
When » Reviewed on Saturday