The New Zealand Herald
Thursday, February 22nd, 2001

Performance: The Irish Tenors

Civic Theatre
Reviewer: Heath Lees

Hot on the heels of Australia's Ten Tenors come the Three Irish Tenors, who limit themselves, of course, to the songs of Ireland - "one of the loveliest repertoires in the world," said Finbar Wright at the opening.

He's right, too, what with names like Galway Bay and Rose of Tralee, names that make music just by being spoken.

The ticket boasted a special, 42-piece orchestra but through the gloom you could make out what looked suspiciously like a cut-down version of the Auckland Philharmonic, sounding lacklustre and unrehearsed.

But the songs were the good ones, to be sure, and the lads themselves were in fine voice, rooted to the stage behind their three microphones, singing mostly in unison, with a big, operatic sound reserved for the choruses and final verses.

Strangely, there was little variety and even less introduction. You could buy a programme of about a dozen pages for $25 but it said nothing about the songs you were to hear.

There was an assumption that everyone in the audience had bought all the CDs already, and the concert was there to bring the CDs to life. So you got the three lads together or you got them singularly, and sometimes even they weren't sure whose turn it was, which made the entries and links seem awkward.

But you couldn't fault their singing, and they gave themselves unstintingly, covering the traditional repertoire for more than an hour before the interval, then offering an even bigger second half that included a more modern repertoire of Irish songs, filtered through the musical lens of Broadway, Hollywood, Ellis Island, and today's sad and troubled times.

The big crowd loved every note, yet at the end the encores revealed that the singers had still left in reserve some of the all-time greats such as Danny Boy and When Irish Eyes are Smiling.

Like the song-drunk crowd in James Joyce's Ormond Bar, these three lads could have gone on all night. And every one of the audience would have been there, cheering to the end.