The Elders are the Party of the Century
TEP | Louisville, Kentucky USA | 10/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"(Please note: the author met The Elders as they flew right after their gig at the World Fest on the Belvedere above the Ohio River in downtown, Louisville, Kentucky to their gig as the headliner band on Saturday Night at the Irish Fest at Crown Center in Kansas City, where over 20,000 screaming fans and a sold out terrace lawn crowd, as fire marshals had to close stairways to the venue and shut off ticket sales at the gates for the safety of the crowds already waiting. Crowds of over 85,000 attended the Irish Fest 2007 were pleased. The Elders gave the Party of the Century and brought out the masses! This year's Irish fest wiped out the festival's debt!)
My experience with The Elders in person and at a live concert:
At Standiford International Airport, waiting in Southwest Airline's section, tapping my feet, listening to my ipod, relying on my CD uploads, my selected music to break up the boring monotony of waiting for a plane in Louisville, Kentucky's airport to board, and early at that. I was an easy mark for a nice bunch of leprechauns to step out and convert me to a new genre of music.
Something so new to my ears: rock, with hints of pop rock, bluegrass, Celtic, Appalachian, country, a little jazz, sounds of such experienced showmen, wise directors and promoters of their craft, that under their seducing musical spell, I paused and took note. Something transfixed me. What is this pull? Something I instantly loved, something familiar...traces and reminiscences of an ancestor sailing to this shore...someone I knew long ago? How remarkable is this? As you listen, they share their Celtic stories and you will recognize them as someone worthy, someone you are supposed to know.
The Elders' music takes you back to every American's roots regardless of your heritage...and fills your soul with the courage of your immigrant ancestors. The power in Brent Hoad's violin strings uplifts and sustains you. Its strength sings to your soul. The Elders make you remember the lessons of your ancestors who gave you life and teach you to honor and dance with your ghosts and fill you with enough heirloom courage for a lifetime.
As The Elders play many different venues, from outdoor concerts to pubs, to whatever Kansas City fundraisers that appeal to them, this DVD, "Live at the Gem" gives you just a taste of their magic at indoor performances. Go see them in concert and share the fun and their madness: watch and hear them perform and be part of the Best Crowds they have ever seen!
Great music and top presentation for a new band and group
John G. Foley | San Jose, Ca. | 04/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This group typifies the energy of the Irish culture that has moved through
their music choice and brought the product to world class performance."
Typical Public TV Fare
Robert Shepard Jr. | USA | 01/13/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First, let me say this: If I were reviewing just the music, this DVD would rate five stars, no question. The Elders are great! I first heard them this past September, when I got to see them perform live at the Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Festival in Estes Park. I fell in love with their energetic music despite an "iffy" sound system which had the volume cranked way too high for my own comfort. If I were to pigeonhole their style, it would be "Irish Country Rock".
The instrumental tracks "Michael's Ride" and "Turnpike", in particular, remind me of classic hoedown music. It's pretty obvious where bluegrass comes from. Another one, "Love of the Century", reminded me so much of John Denver that I went out and got an anthology of his classics, the kind of stuff I grew up on back in the 1970's. Such was the power of the nostalgia The Elders' music evoked in me. And "1849" packs a major emotional wallop, due to the fact that I first heard it the very week I learned that a close relative had cancer. Something about that wailing chorus raises my hackles every time I hear it.
I'm reminded of Runrig, a major Scottish rock band: They, like The Elders, tend to write very serious songs of remembrance and longing for bygone days, decrying the terrible injustices done to the Scottish and Irish peoples. Neither band pulls any punches. While I'm not, so far as I know, of Irish descent, I certainly am of Scottish and Welsh stock, so The Elders' music resonates with me quite strongly.
Of course, some of the music is in a lighter vein, such as "Packy Go Home", about a truant little boy who stokes the boiler too high and blows up his school. Another cheerful one is "Send a Prayer".
I listened to the CD version of "Live at The Gem", along with studio album "Racing The Tide", for a couple of months before deciding to get the live DVD as well. While it was enjoyable, it did leave me somewhat disappointed. I had hoped to see the complete program, with all 14 songs in order, along with all of the introductory comments by the group members. A good example of this sort of thing would be "The Moody Blues at Red Rocks". Unfortunately, the DVD was pretty heavily edited.
The DVD insert contains thanks to "all the wonderful folks at Kansas City Public Television", and that says it all right there. The main program consisted of 11 songs, interspersed with interviews of various fans. The remaining three songs are stuck willy-nilly at the end as "bonus tracks", and look like they might have been recorded on a different evening.
What really bothered me was what they did to "Men of Erin". This is, next to "1849", the most moving song of the whole evening, in glorious four-part vocal harmony, completely a capella. In Estes Park, I got to hear closing bagpipes as in the original studio version, but the pipes are absent from "Live at The Gem".
Basically, the editors butchered the song. I got to hear something like 1-1/2 verses, and in the middle they cut away to an interview of someone praising the role The Elders play in the Kansas City Celtic music community. While I'm sure that's a good thing, I really wish they could have saved that little tidbit until after the song. I kept expecting to see a scene of a whole bunch of people toiling away in a phone bank, phones ringing incessantly, while viewers are urged to pony up if they want to continue receiving quality programming like this.
Oh well, there's no use in ranting about it. If you're really devoted to The Elders, or are just curious about what one of their shows looks like, you'll probably want this DVD, despite its shortcomings. I'd likely still have gotten it, even knowing what I do now.
I would also recommend getting the companion CD. Enjoy!