On October 17th, 2023, the Canadian-born and raised Loreena McKennitt brought her “The Visit Revisited Tour” to the Kodak Center in Rochester, NY. This tour commemorates the 32nd anniversary of the 1991 release of the highly acclaimed album The Visit, which launched her on a path of international stardom. She has not toured America in 8 years and Rochester was one of the lucky stops of the 23-date tour, starting on October 11th, 2023.
Upon entering the theater, fans were given a souvenir tour program that contained snippets of info and also included a catalog of merchandise that was available for purchase at the venue. Five large candelabras rose above the back of the stage with candles flickering, setting the ambience for the show. The theater was filled with fans of all ages, eagerly waiting for the 7:30 PM start.
Shortly after 7:30, five musicians took to the stage to thunderous applause. Loreena McKennitt sat down at her harp and went into the first song, "Samain Night." The sound was amazing and the theater was filled with the unique sound these musicians bring. When the song was over the fans cheered and Loreena went into a story. She shared that her harp of choice is a Troubadour, mainly because when she was starting out, she drove a 1978 Honda Civic and that was the only size harp that could fit in the car. The audience laughed, and the musical magic continued with "A Hundred Wishes" and "Ages Past Ages Hence."
She continued on, explaining how the evening would unfold. The first set would be a mix of songs from her extensive music catalog and some stories of her life, followed by a short intermission. Then in the second set, they would be playing the album The Visit in its entirety, minus the stories between songs. Followed by a few more songs afterward, including my favorite, "The Mummers Dance."
McKennitt then told the audience that she “never dreamed of being a musician," she "wanted to be a veterinarian,” and things changed in 1985 when she recorded 30 cassette tapes of her own music, giving away 15 to friends. She took the remaining tapes to Toronto and started busking on the city streets- the rest is history.
They continued with the songs "Lost Souls" and "The Bonny Swans." McKennitt then paused, telling fans that the band would do one more piece and would pause for station identification, the fans then erupting in laughter.
The set closes with "Never Ending Road." After a short intermission, the show resumed as promised with a run-through of the album The Visit, only pausing to acknowledge and thank the touring crew.
The music created throughout the evening was incredible. The complex sounds created by the musicians playing the stringed instruments were simply breathtaking, and I could find myself getting lost in the moment with the music. This was truly a world-class performance. Loreena McKennitt sings effortlessly and hits all the notes perfectly. I honestly believe that the songs sounded better live than the recordings. This show was a true gem!
At the close of the set, the band left the stage, only to be brought back by cheers for an encore performance. Playing a crowd favorite, "Dante’s Prayer," and following with a piece played at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, "Wild Mountain Thyme." She encouraged the fans to sing along to the chorus, stating that "the words are printed in your program that you can’t see right now,” and laughs filled the venue. Soon the song is over and the fans give a standing ovation, leaving the theater with memories of an amazing evening of music!
Loreena McKennitt - Vocals/Harp/Piano, Brian Hughes - Guitars/Bouzouki, Caroline Lavelle - Cello/Recorder/Vocals, Hugh Marsh - Violin, Dudley Phillips - Electric and Double Bass
Set 1 - Samain Night, A Hundred Wishes, Ages Past Ages Hence, On A Bright May Morning, The Manx Ayre, The Mummers Dance, Lost Souls, The Bonny Swans, Never Ending Road
Set 2 (The Visit) - All Souls’ Night, Bonny Portmore, Between The Shadows, Lady of Shalott, Greensleeves, Tango To Evora, Courtyard Lullaby, The Old Ways, Cymbeline
Encores: Dante's Prayer, Wild Mountain Thyme
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