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Monday, December 14, 2009

Celine Carroll saves us from reality TV and touches the sky

The Cherry Tree

Saturday December 12th 2009

CELINE CARROLL filled this venue in the middle of the office Christmas party season and the final stages of the X-factor.

I should imagine that most of the party goers would end up with a night to forget, while the telly viewers will end up forgetting what happened on Dec 12 in a few months from now , but those who witnessed Celine Carroll with her band will have unforgettable memories of what was one helluva gig.

That taken-for-granted term, full house, doesn't tell you much about the tremendous amount of hard work and the struggle over recent times that went into making this night happen. Had she done this a while ago, Celine , to use her words, would have "Fell on her arse in her own back garden". But thanks to the hard work of the few , there was now many waiting to attend this gig.

So, at around 10pm , Celine entered the stage. She seemed to be taken a bit by surprise, yet at the same time relieved at the size of the awaiting audience. How fitting it was to start the show with Home, to welcome the faithful to her patch. It's the first track off her previous album , Itch. A brilliant song to open with because it begins with just Celine and her acoustic guitar and the rest of the band gradually come in.

And before the audience's welcoming applause had chance to fade, we were treated to one of the best intros to arguably the most addictive song of the Itch album, Slow My Wheels. Driven along by a brilliant bass and kept in tight time with the tapping of the drum rims. Just two songs in and I was already up in the clouds.

As for the band , 3 lads popped up from Cork to assist Celine with the instrumentation, Paul Seymour on keyboards, Johnny (Green Tie?) Campbell on Bass, and Jerry (ex Hothouse Flowers) Fehily on drums. In perfect harmony on backing vocals was Celine's pal from round the corner, Siobhan Lennon.

This quintet delivered close on 3 hours worth of songs from Celine's three albums with a couple of, as yet, unreleased ones, to the point of and beyond perfection.
There were no repeats or plugs throughout the entire set. Apart from a couple of happy birthdays the first half focussed on the music. The second part of the show saw Celine giving out a few thank yous against each song to friends who have played a supporting role. Every person who was mentioned received the warmest applause. As for jokes and banter, let's just say here was a Dubliner on her own patch loving every minute.

The biggest challenge in this report is to describe her music, suffice it to say that putting words to music is a great art , putting music into words is nigh on impossible. Let's find a pigeon hole and say she's between easy and jazz , but there is of course the Irish section in the downtown HMV shop. So we'll dispense with that idea and take her CDs away from all of these categories and just file them under uncomplicated quality. Who does she sound like ? There's an easy answer - nobody else but Celine Carroll. How does she deliver her music ? With honesty and a lovely voice with the added edge of that beautiful female Dublin lilt. One guarantee is that once you hear a Celine Carroll song, it will never want to leave you. This tired old music world has many a gap in it and Celine is here to breathe a bit of life into at least one of them.

Back to the show and it's difficult to centre upon a highlight because it was perfection all the way, but Bird In A Cage definitely jaw dropped about a hundred people into total silence.

The main set closed with You're Every Beat Of My Heart which was dedicated to yours truly ... as was the first song on the Encore ... Apologise. (Her latest single, followed by my first encounter.)

The big finale consisted of a medley of Celine's Christmas Carrolls which launched the crowd into a big festive sing-song. And finally we said our goodbyes as we all headed for home , many armed with CDs, in the early hours of Sunday with Christmas, for the time being, on our minds and Celine forever in our hearts.

On a personal note , I believe that this was a wonderful finale to a year which saw Celine get significant radio airplay on both sides of the Irish Sea. From the solid foundations that were laid in 2009, may they enable Celine's musical career to become further established in 2010.

Celine Carroll - Lead Vocals , Acoustic Guitar, Piano
Jerry Fehily - Drums
Johnny Campbell - Bass
Paul Seymour - Keyboards
Siobhan Lennon - Backing Vocals

Home (Album : Itch)
Slow My Wheels (Itch)
Itch (Itch)
Yeah (Such a Beautiful Light)
Grey Sky Blue (Itch)
I Believe In Love (Such a Beautiful Light)
I Won't Be Your Fool Anymore (Such a Beautiful Light)
Before You Go (Such a Beautiful Light)
Don't Sit On The Fence Too Long (Catch You As You Fall)
Standing On My Own Two Feet Again (Itch)
Take It All In (Such a Beautiful Light)

**Interval **

You And I (unreleased)
You're Still Here (Such a Beautiful Light)
Bird In A Cage (Itch)
So Wrong (Itch)
On The Water (Catch You As You Fall)
Sweet Heart Of Mine (Such a Beautiful Light)
Love Disappear (Such a Beautiful Light)
Better Than This (unreleased)
Heart Of Gold (Such a Beautiful Light)
You're Every Beat Of My Heart (Such a Beautiful Light)

** Encore **

Apologise (Itch)
I Love You I (unreleased)
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Let It Snow / Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer/Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

** Take A Bow **

Mustn't forget a tremendous support act , JEZZEBELLE

Next time you go to a live gig , spare a thought for the sound technician, the artist and the band. It's highly likely that a bit more than a 1-2, 1-2 followed by a quick tune up and line check took place in the half hour before the doors opened.
Celine , the band and the sound technician were at the venue a good 5 hours beforehand. Progressing from fizzes , bangs & feedbacks through to ironing out the finishing touches before settling for a finished item fit for public enjoyment.
The sound technician had this to contend with. Note the masking tape below the faders,just to help him cue in the right mic as Celine moved from piano to acoustic guitar.