25 Years And Still Going Strong- Riverdance Still Impresses With Ease

Photo Credit Jack Hartin

I typically search out concerts that have a high nostlagia factor in them for me. Whether it’s a band, a song, or a sound, if it has a hint of nostalgia in it, I’m there. That’s the main reason I found myself spending my Friday night at The State Theatre in Minneapolis for Riverdance’s 25th anniversary tour. Sure, it wasn’t a concert per say but the nostalgia factor of being able to see the legendary group perform live was just too much for me to pass up so I grabbed a friend and we made our way downtown for the spectacular show. I think we both found it a bit funny that we were spending out Friday night surrounded by a much older crowd than at the bar we had just grabbed dinner but behind our giggling and snarky comments, we were both excited and silence fell over us and the rest of the audience as the lights went down and the show started.

I remember watching a VHS of Riverdance religiously growing up. I remember dancing around the family room with my little brother pretending we were the dancers. I always found myself captivated by their movements and the ease of which they do said movements with. This was around twenty years ago so I wasn’t quite sure what Riverdance would be like after so much time had passed but within the first “song” of the night I knew that even with the time that had passed, not much has changed with this show and I found a sense of comfort in that.

My jaw was on the ground as I watched the highly talented dancers step their way through what had to be an exhausting two hour performance. I don’t know anything about dance nor would I ever claim to know but I can tell you that the control these dancers have is stunning. The way they are able to do intricate footwork creating a whole song with only their feet while keeping their upper bodies in one spot all the while seemingly flying across the stage … I mean, come on, there’s no denying the talent, athleticism and passion that it takes to do it all while making it all seem so easy. Although obviously rooted in traditional Irish dancing, I loved the way that the performance brought in other styles of music. From an absolutely beautiful flamenco performance to a powerful Russian inspired number, every song performed on Friday night had a different vibe while clearly being that of Riverdance. 

I clearly could go on and on about the dancing but I’m a music writer so I would remiss to not mention the band. The instrumentation was fairly simple with typically not more than drums, violin, cornet, bagpipes and flute but the lines of notes were anything but simple. Towards the end of the first act of the night, the Riverdance musicians took over the stage and showed us just how talented they are. Taking turns in the spotlight with dizzying solos and emotive lines of notes, I was a little surprised to find myself just as captivated by them as I was by the dancers. There was a sense of playfulness as the musicians took turns with their respective instruments. Much like the dancing, the music was rooted in the Irish folk world but you could plainly hear elements of jazz, salsa, and even a little rock hidden in their solos.

Along with the musicians was a group of highly talented vocalists. Throughout the night there were a capella portions from the vocalists that gave me chills. Sadly I don’t hav the names of the vocalists (or anyone for that matter as I misplaced my playbill at some point throughout the night) but every single person who had a turn behind the microphone during the two hour performance had a voice of an angel and I’m not saying that to be funny. When I was younger and obsessing over the video my parents had, I don’t think I took the time or the care to really notice the singing or music behind the dancers and honestly probably fast forwarded through those parts to get to the dancing but now that I’m older, I definitely hear the music and notice the vocals. I know everyone’s first thought when you say Riverdance is dancing but, after seeing the performance first hand, my first thought will probably now go straight to the musicians and vocalists.

I honestly never thought I would say that I spent my Friday night watching Riverdance but, after seeing the group live, I am already ready to catch them again. What an absolutely stunning night of talent, passion, and nostalgia.