The air was filled with gathering excitement as we waited for Celtus to appear on stage. Our first view was of Dan bathed in a soft eerie glow as he conjured up the introduction to “Two Worlds”. Then light erupted around John as he appeared from nowhere, low whistle in hand radiating a strong stage presence. Pat’s faultless rhythm guitar combined with the multi-coloured backdrop of swirling light patterns created an impressive backdrop that was both visually and musically stunning.
“The Pilgrim” led the way as we followed the morning star of rousing chorus and amazing harmonies along this musical journey.
“Strange Day in the Country” and “Moon Child” have a special place in my heart, as these songs were my first introduction to the band. The low Irish whistle and soft but powerful vocals and chants combined with Pat’s stunning electric guitar work were awesome.
It was time for “The Awakening”, a haunting melodic instrumental that releases the spirit to a state of liberation. At this moment my mind wandered and I thought to myself I ‘m at the Royal Festival Hall in London on the 13th March 2000, the next chapter of the Celtus story. This night will herald the new chapter as the day, John, Pat and Dan reset the standard of live performance, for me a bench mark for all future musical events I attend.
“Touch you” and “Believe” followed – two beautifully crafted songs with a strong message of peace, understanding and hope.
There was also some fantastic tracks played from the new album “Rooted”, one such masterpiece was “Navigator”. Dan’s introduction to this track is like a new journey, full of the anticipation and the danger into the unknown. Johns low whistle comes in like an old friend and Pat’s fiddle verges on a controlled state of mayhem. Navigator works so well, it’s like losing your way briefly only to find that you were going the right way in the first place. The combination of low whistle, fiddle and futuristic keyboard is pure unexpected joy.
The mighty “Cathedral” arrives, a bastion of a bye-gone age, towering over all, spreading its shadow, as it grows ever higher. This is one of the most powerful songs I’ve heard for some time. It’s a lyrical wonder, a visual masterpiece that should hang in the Tate gallery when it’s not being performed. Quite how they created the sound of the Cathedral on stage when it was originally recorded, even with full orchestral backing, is beyond my understanding.
I’ve been asked what is the one thing that makes Celtus the band it is today. Some may say it’s John’s vocal control and gifted low whistle technique, others may say it’s Pat’s diversity of guitar structure and fiddle technique or it could be Dan’s fusion of past and present synthesised sounds. I can’t put it down to any one of these things, for me it’s the sum of the many parts that makes Celtus unique, giving a new dimension to the folk/rock/roots scene.
The Folkmaster, 17th March, 2000
The Set List as follows:
1. Two Worlds
2. The Pilgrim
4. Strange Day In The Country
6. The Awakening
7. Touch You
9. Moment In Time
10. Dear Irish Boy
13 Wide Awake
17 We Two Are One
18 Purple Diadem