THE TOUR GOES ON
Celtic Thunder recently lost a founding member, but his friends keep his memory alive with every song they continue to sing
Irish group Celtic Thunder are a man down and they feel it.
Singer George Donaldson, 46, died after a heart attack in March, leaving the male singing group without one of its founding members.
Four of the group were in Sydney last week before the start of their Australian tour and agreed that continuing with their dates Down Under was the best thing they could do.
“It has been a difficult time but there’s strength in numbers and this tour has been all about•celebrating the man who was an incredible guy to be around and made a massive impact to all of us,” singer Colm Keegan says.
“One thing that’s said about groups on tour is that you’re not colleagues, you’re not peers; you’re family.
“The last few months have been incredibly difficult for all of us, but the one thing we wanted to do on this tour was pay homage to one of our family, George.”
The other three Irish men, Neil Byrne, Keith Harkin and Emmet Cahill agree their upcoming tour is one of the best ways they could celebrate Donaldson’s life.
“It’s not easy, but as the old saying goes: the show must go on,” Harkin says.
“I know if George was in this situation he would be exactly the same.”
The four men display an easy charm when they’re together, it’s not hard to see how they win audiences over•worldwide.
This will be Celtic Thunder’s third trip to Australia after enjoying impressive sales locally and internationally.
Their 2012 DVD The Show was on top of the ARIA charts for 33 weeks with the group selling two million albums worldwide and more than 700,000 concert tickets. The Celtic Thunder YouTube channel, Thunder Tube, has also clocked up more than 28 million views since 2008.
“Australia is a massive part of the Celtic Thunder chapter,” Keegan says.
Keith Harkin, a long-haired surfer, particularly likes to come to Australia at this time of year as he says the “winter swells are coming in”.
The cheekiest of the group, Harkin says performing in front of family gave him more of a thrill than when the group sang in the White House for the US President Barack Obama.
“I had the pleasure of playing in front of my grandmother and my mummy•in Radio City (Music Hall) in New York so it’s pretty•spectacular.
“But President Obama was very cool as well,” he says. Celtic Thunder perform at Jupiters Casino Theatre on Saturday night.
Celtic Thunder will play 22 shows across Australia during the group’s busy schedule and they say former member George Donaldson would have approved.