Natalie MacMaster |
at Pitman Theatre,
(2 April 2005)
Milwaukee is a very privileged city. Because of its rich diversity, it has seen several artists of many cultures come to share their talents with us. Fortunately, for all the Celtic musician folks in town, Natalie MacMaster is one of those artists.
This is not the first time Natalie has been here. In fact, she is so well received that she performs here at least once, sometimes even twice, per year. I have been to many of these performances and I am more and more impressed with her every time I see her. I am amazed at how, after touring as much as she has, her show never loses the sparkling touch that it has always had.
Natalie's ability to captivate an audience never tires. From the moment her foot touches the stage, faces light up. I have yet to see a show where this does not happen. This is because everyone knows that, even though the show begins with a beautiful air by pianist, Allan Dewar, the performance will escalate and there will hardly be a moment where Natalie is standing still. Just when you think that she could not possibly have any more energy, she gets a look in her eyes that says, "Nope. I'm going to throw one more at them."
Her band deserves a lot of credit for this, too. After countless performances, night after night, they ALWAYS look like they are having fun. Their feet are tapping to the music as much as the audience's are and they interact with each other really well.
The amount of variety in the show is also impressive. It includes everything from slow to fast-paced tunes, to dance routines, to a couple of songs. This time, bass player/jazz singer John Chiasson graced the audience with a wonderful rendition of "My Romance," and guitarist Brad Davidge sang a beautiful version of "Danny Boy." After the intermission, the second set opened with a pipe solo by Matt MacIsaac. It left the audience speechless, except for a single, "wow," from the front row. There was even variety in Natalie's dancing. It included some very creative clog steps, accompanied by drummer Miche Pouliot, and some highland steps, as well as the infamous moonwalk. I honestly think that Natalie's ankles are made of rubber, because no matter what type of dance she does, it is always thrilling. She has some of the fastest feet I've ever seen.
There was a bit of humor added to the show, too. Natalie told a story about how she wanted to apply for a grant from the Canadian government to make a music video of a tune off her latest album, Blueprint. In order to do this, she had to meet two out of four criteria: (1) the music had to be written by a Canadian artist, (2) the music had to be performed by a Canadian artist, (3) the producer of the recording had to be from Canada and (4) there had to be lyrics to the music. Well, No. 2 was the only one she met, so she decided to write lyrics, and then make a video of the "instrumental version." Before singing the lyrics to the audience, she said, "Remember -- the lyrics don't have to be good. The melody is very fast ... and the title of this tune is 'Appropriate Dipstick.'" After singing her hilarious song and a roar of laughter from the audience, she announced, "I got the grant." This is a perfect example of Natalie's highly developed stage personality. Besides this humorous story, she added a nice personal touch by talking about kitchen parties from home and she explained that there are more fiddlers per capita in Cape Breton than there are anywhere else in the world.
To explain how much I enjoyed this performance, put it this way -- it is a day later, and I am still recovering from shin splints from tapping my feet so much. I had a wonderful time and I look forward to seeing more Natalie MacMaster shows in the future.