Time and again, internationally renowned music group Celtic Woman has won the hearts of Patriot Center audiences. They perform at the arena every year, and returned Saturday, for their latest American tour “Believe”.
Celtic Woman is an all-female singing sensation, comprised of three vocalists — Chloe Agnew, Lisa Lambe and Susan McFadden — as well as effervescent violinist Mairead Nesbitt.
As the show started, bright, multi-colored lights shined into the audience. The raised stage was set with veiled curtains, and drum sets towered over on side platforms. With slow and careful grace, Nesbitt played the violin, with accompaniment from a piano, a guitar, drums and a haunting tin whistle.
Nesbitt, wearing a sparkling, baby blue dress, smiled at the ever-receptive audience.
Seconds later, the three vocalists stepped out while singing their high-energy opening number “Awakening.” Agnew, Lambe and McFadden wore a pink dress, lavender dress and purple dress respectively. The audience was in for a treat.
The appreciation between the audience members and Celtic Woman was mutual.
“We’re delighted to be back in Fairfax and to bring our show to you,” said Agnew, 22, Celtic Woman’s youngest member. “I hope you can all take something special from it.”
Celtic Woman performs a wide variety of songs, from pop standards to Broadway numbers. However, some of the show’s most profound moments take place as Celtic Woman performs traditional Irish ballads.
“We Irish love to sing,” Lambe said. “Music has been with us from the time we were very small.”
These traditional songs included “Danny Boy” and “Mo Ghile Mear,” some of which were sung in the Gaelic language.
What makes a Celtic Woman show special is that each performance is distinct, as the vocalists take on different character personas in each song they sing.
For example, in the Irish song “Teir Abhaile Riu,” Agnew, Lambe, McFadden and Nesbitt take on a flirtatious tone, stepping into the audience and interacting with concertgoers in the front row.
Other poignant songs included the stirring “Amazing Grace,” which featured bagpipe accompaniment and “Green Grow the Rushes,” during which Agnew encouraged the audience to sing along.
“Don’t be shy. We’re all friends here,” said Agnew, as the lights turned up.
Agnew explained that “Green Grow the Rushes” is a Celtic melody which became popular in Scottish pubs where people would sing together.
“The song acknowledges that while God creating men is good, the creating of women is even greater,” Agnew said.
An experienced performer in Savoy Theater at London’s West End, Susan McFadden is the group’s newest member.
“It is an honor to be on my first-ever tour with Celtic Woman,” McFadden said.
All four Celtic women charmed and inspired the audience, yet Nesbitt, the vivacious violinist, was a genuine crowd pleaser.
“She levitates across the stage,” said Walt Urban, who traveled all the way from Medford, N.J., to see the performance. “Like Tinker Bell,” added audience member Gregg Snaza, from Portsmouth, Va.
Concertgoers are typically familiar with Celtic Woman for their fundraising performances on PBS, yet find their live concerts all the more spectacular.
“This is better since people aren’t interrupting to sell us things,” Snaza said.
At the conclusion of the performance, the audience gave Celtic Woman a standing ovation, and obligingly, the group played a one-song encore.
“We want to send you home hopping and jumping,” Agnew said.
Considering the performers’ soothing soprano voices and angelic appearances, watching Celtic Woman’s Patriot Center concert was a pleasurable experience that was over all too soon.
But then again, all great things must come to an end.
“Go n-eiri an bothar leat,” Lambe said, bidding the audience farewell with a traditional Irish saying. “May the road rise to meet you.”