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Image courtesy of the NAC.

Review: A Celtic Family Christmas

By She Who Must Be Obeyed on December 23, 2016

Read She Who Must Be Obeyed’s interview with Natalie MacMaster here

I never thought that performers truly burst onto stage but that is what Donnell Leahy and Natalie MacMaster did at their sold-out Christmas concert at the National Arts Centre.

The NAC may be in shambles*, but inside the newly restored Southam Hall, all is tickety-boo. Improvements include new seats, increased accessibility and the invitation to bring your bevvies into the hall with you**.

Canada’s first couple of Celtic fiddling and dancing performed a solid two hours of rousing music, mostly from their new album, A Celtic Family Christmas. The session musicians they brought with them were outstanding in their own right. As were their brood of singing, dancing and fiddling kiddies.

If having six of their own isn’t enough proof that these guys like the wee ones, then you should have seen MacMaster’s face when she spied a few “sweethearts” (aka children) dancing in the aisles. She encouraged any other sweethearts or older folks to follow suit. Which I’m sure caused panic in the hearts of the ushers.

The Leahy/MacMaster version of “Little Drummer Boy” might just be one of the most innovative and damn fine covers ever. Think electric guitar to open, maniacal fiddling from the duo for a bit and then bagpipes thrown into all that before they crank it up a notch.

The noise level of the evening was more Bluesfest than Southam Hall and the music suffered a bit from the over-amplification. But nothing could detract from the world-class talent being demonstrated on stage.

All together they put on a show that was a perfect combination of technical skill, down to earth fun, toe-tapping energy and emotion.

* Who okayed having one teeny tiny women’s washroom for three floors of Southam Hall patrons?!

**IMHO – A gin and tonic does indeed go well with live music but you may wish to skip that indulgence until they free up a few more toilets.

SWMBO first saw MacMaster and Leahy onstage at a NAC Student Matinee years ago. She and her kids were lucky enough to sit front row centre. As Natalie MacMaster told her, “You got some of our dust right up your nose.”