Whenever Alan Doyle and The Beautiful Gypsies come to town (or in this case, our home state), you know that the band will bring an energy unrivaled by anybody else out there. When you bring forth that energy on the biggest Irish holiday of them all, you know that such a combination can only result in an awesome evening of live music that would be foolish to miss. And on this particular tour, Alan Doyle was able to convince his friend and former Great Big Sea bassist Murray Foster to accompany the band for a selection of dates (this one included).
The Sellersville Theater in Pennsylvania is one of those rare gems tucked away literally in the middle of nowhere. Prior to the show, Team GDW walked a few blocks around Sellersville and pretty much covered most of the town, and Doyle amused the audience later that night by stating that the town still outsized his home town of Petty Harbour, Newfoundland. Making the statement that “this one is sold out to the doors,” Doyle celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in true Newfoundland fashion, with a selection of both his solo and Great Big Sea material. The crowd were certainly ready and willing to party with the band for the entire evening.
Hailing from Sarnia, Ontario, opening artist Donovan Woods took the stage first with the warm up duties. An accomplished singer-songwriter, Woods used the opportunity to road test some of his recently released material to this Pennsylvania audience. Armed with just his acoustic guitar, Woods performed seven tracks, and entertained the crowd with some upbeat banter and tales between songs. Promoting his brand new “They Are Going Away” EP, Woods opened with two tracks from this release (“Drove Through Town” and “What They Mean”). Woods also included tracks from his 2016 “Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled” album (“The First Time” and “What Kind of Love is That?”), whilst adding stories that would engage and entertain the crowd throughout the set.
References to Tim McGraw’s jeans, and writing “problem songs for rich people who do not have problems” proved entertaining, but Woods would hit a home-run with the track “Let Go Lightly.” Convincing the audience that he set out to write this song as a ‘sea-shanty,’ he not only received laughs when told that there was zero reference to the sea in his songs, but won the crowd over completely when stating that it is impossible to pull off a sea-shanty when you happen to be touring with “The Prince of Newfoundland.” Woods wrapped up his 35-minute set to a well-deserved ovation, and once again left Team GDW wanting to discover more of his work in the future.
Donovan Woods’ setlist:
Drove Through Town
What They Mean
Let Go Lightly
The First Time
What Kind of Love is That?
Following the brief intermission, Alan Doyle would grace the stage alone to open the show with “River Driver,” and used the acapella delivery to fully engage audience participation out of the gates. As the Beautiful Gypsies took their places during the applause, Doyle would not only deliver a 20-track setlist, but he and the band would prove to be in full St. Patrick’s Day spirits. Music, props, and some fine Irish ‘black stuff’ kept both the band and the crowd partying all evening. Doyle and his band once again pulled off the type of performance that keeps his fans returning time and time again, and engaged audience participation each time a familiar Great Big Sea tune was played.
It truly was wonderful to see Murray Foster out there, playing both the familiar and new (to him) material without missing a beat. Kris MacFarlane, Todd Lumley, Kendel Carson, and Cory Tetford were on top form too (as always – Doyle has a way of surrounding himself with top-notch musicians and friends).
Armed with the knowledge that a third solo album will be released later this year, Doyle took the opportunity to introduce some new material, most notably “Forever Light Will Shine.” With a single release anticipated for the summer, and album release shortly afterwards, I am sure that more songs will surface at future shows soon.
Doyle would knock out his hits too, with several cuts from both “Boy on Bridge” (“I’ve Seen A Little” and “Testify”) and “So Let’s Go” (“I Can’t Dance Without You” and “The Night Loves Us”). GBS classics would also be included, and the crowd appreciated the opportunity to sing along to hits such as “Up,” “Run Run Away,” “Lukey,” and “The Old Black Rum.” As is typical of Doyle, he would hand the stage to both Tetford and Carson for one number, who cranked out a flawless cover version of Ray Charles’ “Georgia on My Mind” to once again solidify their own unique musical identities.
After raising the roof with the perfect party tune “1,2,3,4” (and Paul Simon sample to introduce himself à la “You can call me Al”), the band would return for a 2-track encore (“Somewhere in a Song” and “Ordinary Day”). Not quite done yet, Doyle would invite Donovan Woods back out on stage to join them for an impromptu performance of “Molly Malone” to close the show and bring the St. Patrick’s Day celebration to an end. Once again Alan Doyle and the Beautiful Gypsies delivered their unique brand of Newfoundland inspired music, and left their crowd of loyal fans both satisfied and thirsty for more. Knowing how much Doyle loves to tour, for many, this opportunity will present itself again very soon.
Team GDW would like to thank Donovan Woods for the chat after the show, and to wish him the best for his upcoming tour with Hawksley Workman, Amelia Curran, and Tim Baker. It was also a pleasure to meet Murray, Kris, and Cory, and of course, to finally meet and chat with Alan Doyle himself. Alan, we appreciate your time and your continuous dedication to your music, and thank you again for an amazing night of live music and entertainment. We certainly cannot wait to sample the new material when the album is released, and hope to hear it in person once again at another show later down the line.
Alan Doyle’s setlist:
I Can’t Dance Without You
Come Out With Me
Where the Nightingales Sing
Sea Of No Cares
The Night Loves Us
Forever Light Will Shine
I’ve Seen A Little
Georgia On My Mind (Cory Tetford & Kendel Carson solo)
The Old Black Rum
Row Me Bully Row
Run Run Away
Somewhere In A Song