Reviewed by Tony Villecco
On Tuesday (Feb. 1), Binghamton University’s Anderson Center presented the Five Irish Tenors to what appeared to be a capacity audience. Singing everything from traditional Irish balladry to pop and light rock, the five men proved they were not only gifted but fun to watch, often interjecting bits of humor and comradery.
The concert featured both ensemble and solo work by David Martin, Morgan Crowley, Ciarán Kelly, Alan Leech and George Hutton, supported by two very gifted pianists, Conor Linehan, also the music director and arranger, and Cathal Synott.
The eclectic first half of the program included songs by Billy Joel, Elton John, Phil Collins and Josh Groban. Also featured was the moving solo from Les Miserables, “Bring Him Home.” A real delight was “Spanish Lady” and, of course, “Toora-Loora-Looral.” Closing with the Italian favorite, “Mamma,” the group promised the second half would “be more Irish” and it was.
Starting with “The Rose of Tralee,” the set also had a great version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge of Troubled Water” and Paul McCartney’s classic “Hey, Jude.” One of the most moving and timely pieces was a ballad called “Isle of Hope” about a young girl leaving home and emigrating presumably to America. Its meaning and depth were not lost on the audience.
Roll out the Irish now with “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling,” “My Wild Irish Rose” and a beautiful homage to legendary Irish tenor John McCormack, “I Hear You Calling Me.” Closing with the most well-known Irish ballad, “Danny Boy,” the group received a well-earned standing ovation and calls for an encore.
Mentioning that they were here as part of a 29-state, three-month tour, the tenors were laudatory about their visit. Turning the tables, they asked the audience to sing with them, not an Irish song but, instead, “God Bless America.” It was a surprising yet fitting and moving way to close the evening, and the audience left delighted.