Category: Archive

Daniel hits the high notes in Beacon show

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Before the start of the three-hour show, women of all ages darted around, meeting friends and giggling in anticipation of the night ahead. Three neighbors from Woodside seemed particularly excited. One of them, Bridie Lydon, has been to five O’Donnell concerts. “My son said, ‘Not him again,’ but I love the songs,” she said.
Debbie McCarthy said O’Donnell is “my kind of man,” and her friend Teresa Killeen, who was also in high spirits, said, laughing, “He’s a hunk, a hunk, a hunk.”
Cavan native Tony Jackson was there with his Galwegian wife, Maureen. They moved to the U.S. 39 years ago and have been fans of O’Donnell’s since he started performing. Asked whether he thought O’Donnell was too good to be true, Tony shrugged his shoulders and said, “Not at all, he is great,” praising the singer’s mix of Irish and country music. His wife, equally enthusiastic, called the singer a great ambassador for Ireland.
Inside the auditorium, the seats were full and the stage bathed in blue light. The band struck up a tune and a song wafted from the wings. It was O’Donnell. The applause was rapturous.
The Donegal singer, who is in the middle of a month-long, 14-show tour of the U.S. and Canada, appeared wearing a white suit with matching lilac shirt and tie. He worked his way through a repertoire of upbeat, frothy love songs and Irish ballads, women made their way to the stage. They went seeking kisses, hugs and a few words with the man himself, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he was mid-song. Without missing a beat, he would go down on bended knee, listen to whatever sweet nothings they whispered, and give them a peck on the cheek — all while continuing to sing. The steady trickle of fans to the stage continued throughout the show.
O’Donnell handled these encounters with charm, giving them his time and reminding them that he would be free later to chat at the tour bus.
At one stage, a frail-looking woman approached the stage hooked up to an IV. O’Donnell trailed off mid-song to ask if she was OK. She was, she said, and simply wanted a photo and a kiss. And on it went.
Not content with a kiss, many women left requests on stage, leaving bits of paper with song titles and dedications scrawled on them. Every few minutes, O’Donnell would pick them up and read some out. A typical one might read “to Maggie and Peter from Cavan” — whereupon he would ask them where they were in the audience and would establish some familial link: “Aren’t you the cousins of X who lives in the town next to Y,” etc.
Mary Duff, a singer from County Meath, has been with O’Donnell since 1987. She drew gasps of admiration from the audience with her variety of spangled gowns and sang a selection of country songs that varied the tempo a little.
The show split up into various segments with O’Donnell’s costume changes signaling the next part. His outfits included a black leather suit, which made the ladies roar with approval, a morning suit, a second white suit, and a kilt. The latter was for a skit with Mary Duff. She wore a wig full of ringlets and an Irish dancing dress while he danced about in full jig regalia. In keeping with the apparent ease with which he does everything, he larked about for a few minutes but then did a little bit of proper tap dancing.
The show seems more like a variety show with storytelling, the odd joke, guest spots from band members, and the crowd participation. O’Donnell himself also plays the clown. After a few crowd-pleasing pelvic thrusts, he blessed himself. He is at once very self-aware and very natural.
He is also cheekier than his image suggests. One young woman requested the song she played at her wedding. She then phoned her husband to let him hear the song. O’Donnell, in mock disbelief, said, “Isn’t he the clever fellow to send you here for me to light the fire that he will put out? No flies on him.”
The show ended with a razzmatazz version of the hymn “How Great Thou Art,” replete with a crash of ominous thunder to accompany the lyrics “I hear the mighty thunder.” A glitter ball cast pretty lights all around the theater, bathing the appreciative crowd in warmth before they headed out into the chilly night — and perhaps a meeting at the tour bus.

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