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Sunday, June 16, 2019


(Left: Kyle Matthews)

If you don’t have any Irish blood in you, you will by the end of this show! (Review by Barry Meehan)

Since the opening of the new Barnyard Theatre at the Suncoast Casino, patrons have been treated to some truly outstanding shows, such as Big Top Rock and Rhythm of the Night. The current production, Celtic Rock, certainly falls into the same category as it smoothly transitions its way through all forms of music emanating from the Emerald Isle, from traditional pub sing-alongs through the music of Riverdance, coupled with more modern chart-toppers from the likes of U2, The Corrs, Van Morrison, Chris de Burgh, The Cranberries and the Commitments, amongst others.

Kyle Matthews acts as MC for the show, under the guise of an Irish pub owner, and manages to sustain a pretty acceptable Irish accent throughout the show. 

Joining him on vocals are Ray Oberholzer and Zoey Townsend, both seasoned vocalists with a great stage presence. But it is the band that really stands out and keeps the Barnyard rocking for the two-hour performance.

(Right: Mduduzi Kumalo)

Musical director Callie Thomson shines on keyboards and backing vocals and keeps a tight rein on the proceedings as she moves the show along at a great pace, never allowing her fellow musicians to falter for even one second. Kristo Zondagh on drums, Nathan Machent on bass, Mduduzi Kumalo on saxophone and penny whistle, David Kid on violin and acoustic guitar, and Callie’s husband, the legendary Barry Thomson on lead guitar, are all outstanding musicians in their own right, but together they create a true powerhouse team, very obviously enjoying their time on stage.

The first half of the show features some excellent Irish medleys, along with hits from Van Morrison – Gloria, Have I told You Lately, and Brown Eyed Girl, classics from U2 – Sunday, Bloody Sunday, Pride in the Name of Love and One with a rousing rendition of the Chris de Burgh hit Don’t Pay the Ferryman to bring the half to an end. My only disappointment in this half was Danny Boy, sung well enough by Matthews, but lacking in the genuine depth of feeling so sorely needed for a classic song such as this.

That aside, the second half carries on in the same vein as the first, with Christmas in Killarney (The Irish Rovers) Try a Little Tenderness, In the Midnight Hour, I Can’t Stand the Rain and Treat Her Right (The Commitments) Linger and Zombie (The Cranberries), and Alive and Kicking and Don’t Forget About Me (Simple Minds).

(Kristo Zondagh & David Kid)

After this, however, the show suddenly kicks into another gear as the band comes to the fore with an incredible rendition of Parisienne Walkways (Gary Moore) featuring Barry Thomson on guitar and vocals, River Dance, an incredible drum solo by Zondagh, then a quirky jam session with Duelling Banjos on guitar and violin with Barry Thomson and David Kid excelling, Turkey In The Straw and more!

If you don’t have any Irish blood in you, you will by the end of this show! The music in this show is so entertaining that you’re bound to develop a little bit of Irish ancestry, finding yourself joining in with gusto during the sing-along numbers. Who can help being involved in the finale Ireland’s Call (The Irish Rugby Anthem) along with the encores Wild Rover, The Leaving of Liverpool and I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)?

Altogether, this is a superb show, which deserves to be well attended. Get there and get your Celtic rock on! – Barry Meehan

"Celtic Rock" runs until July 21, 2019, at the Barnyard Theatre, Suncoast. Bookings on 031 940 0500. For more information visit