I went to your concert at the Fox Theater on Thursday night. It had been almost a decade since your last studio album and at least that long since you toured, so it was my first time seeing you. The Fox, a National Historic Landmark and originally the Yaarab Temple Shrine Mosque, was designed in the late 1920’s as headquarters for the Shriners organization. It looks like a your just outside a Bedouin tent or a Moroccan market at nightfall, complete with twinkling stars, a tent, minarets, everything but camels.
Basically the perfect setting for a composer who mixes Celtic and Middle Eastern influences in her works.
What I’d forgotten is that there are a couple of McKennitt’s songs make me cry. I was just blithely enjoying the hurdy-gurdy, the oud and every other amazing instruments when I realized that if a certain song was performed, I’d be in trouble.
Then it started.
The Highwayman is based on a poem by Alfred Noyes, about…a highwayman who visited his sweetheart Bess, the innkeeper’s daughter. Then the redcoats come, tie her up at her bed with a musket beside her, waiting for the highwayman to come back. She warns him away the only way she can–by pulling the trigger. It’s not until morning that he realizes what happened and races back, only to be shot himself. The poem is dramatic all by itself and so’s the recording, but to hear it live–did I mention I was in the fifth row from the orchestra pit?–was an emotional sucker punch.
Yep, I was blubbering by the emotional climax of the story. I hurriedly wiped my eyes and applauded along with everyone else, thinking I’d get a reprieve. But no, she launched into the other song guaranteed to reduce me to tears: Dante’s Prayer.
There were other songs that were just as moving, but really, the whole concert was just amazing. The Old Ways, The Lady of Shalott, I could go on, but at the end–which came much too quickly, I and four thousand other people were just grateful that she’d decided to record and tour again.
It was simply an amazing concert experience. Damn you Loreena, and I have to get the live CD just to experience it again.