More than thirty years after its initial release the RTÉ concert orchestra, together with two of the singers who featured on the original album, along with a new addition, namely Eleanor McEvoy, Maura O’Connell and Wallis Bird gathered before a live audience at the opera House in Wexford to perform a selection of songs. Some from the original album, some a personal selection of newer songs from each of the artists.
First on stage was Eleanor McEvoy with I Hear You Breathing In, a song McEvoy originally recorded in 2001 and which appeared on the album Yola. This time round it was just as abley performed and got the audience warmed up nicely.
Next McEvoy was joined on stage by Wallis Bird for the Mary Black song Past the Point of Rescue, this, being sung by different people with a new arrangement was always going to catch the eye and the new treatment went down a treat. Following this was what, for this particular reviewer, was one of the many highlights, a note perfect performance of Paul Brady’s The Island by Bird, confirming that this was a fresh update to the Woman’s Heart lineup, and a welcome one to boot.
As hard as this was to follow Maura O’Connell duely obliged with her performance of Shades of Gloria, from Mary Black’s 1990 album No Frontiers before all three rounded off the part with Vanities, another song originally performed by Mary Black. This was followed by Maura O’Connell singing If You Love Me, a powerfully sung but tender ballad of love and longing, undoubtedly a moment that tugged on the heartstrings of the assembled audience, both in Wexford and at home. The pace was picked up beautifully when Bird burst into the opening bars of her hit That’s What Life is For. At this point these three songstresses were playing with the audiences emotions and this persisted as the pace (but not the talent of course) dropped again when all three singers sang Sonny, (another one made famous of course by Mary Black) in hauntingly beautiful fashion. Then along came the one everyone had been waiting for with eager anticipation, A Woman’s Heart, as tenderly sung as the original. To finish things off the three topped off an amazing and well worth watching show with a rendition of Caledonia. This particular reviewer would love to say that that was were this fantastic concert finished. Sad to say however that for some reason all this brilliance was topped off by….. a Dolly Parton number. Now a bit of Dolly never hurt anyone, in the right time and in the right place. However, given what had gone before, these three women who stole the audiences hearts, abley assisted by the RTÉ concert orchestra, were at this stage entitled to a bit of indulgence!