Irish Independant

Ageless star is still fresh and powerful
Pat O'Kelly

Colm Wilkinson National Concert Hall, Dublin

The seemingly ageless Colm Wilkinson returns to the National Concert Hall this week accompanied by a septet of eclectic musicians, directed from the piano by Gavin Murphy, and two female vocalists -- Siobhan Pettit and Aine Whelan.

The result is a highly entertaining evening with the star of the show delivering a diversified and generous programme in his inimitable style.

Colm Wilkinson has an engaging personality and stage presence. Acting as master of ceremonies he beguiles with banter, amusing anecdotes and clean light-hearted jokes. But, of course, the voice is the main attraction and I'm happy to relate this sounds as fresh and as powerful as ever.

The Phantom's 'The Music of the Night' begins darkly, but Wilkinson's atmospheric interpretation rises like a beacon to a long held falsetto peak with amazing breath control. Tension is relaxed in 'The Tennessee Waltz', to his guitar accompaniment, while 'Hello, Young Lovers' and 'Some Enchanted Evening' continue down the romantic path and, at the same time, pack a powerful punch.

'Whiskey in the jar' is sung with tremendous gusto and the audience, invited to join in, rises to the occasion. An impassioned 'This is the Moment' (Jekyll and Hyde) ends Part I with an exciting crescendo.

'The Man from La Mancha' launches Part II where the unreachable star of 'The Impossible Dream' glistens brightly at its end. The 'Anthem' from Chess is filled with patriotic fervour and Muddy Waters' extravaganza, with saxophone obbligato and orgiastic climax, indicates Wilkinson's boundless versatility.

Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' shows committed involvement. John Lennon's 'Imagine', and a plea for universal peace, means 'goodnight' but not 'good-bye' as the audience is rewarded with encores.

Repeated next Tuesday, the show is well worth the trip to the NCH.

- Pat O'Kelly

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