Ronan Tynan September 26, 2008
By Glen Creason
Ronan Tynan is such an extraordinary man it doesn’t seem all that surprising that his concert of tenor singing at the Performing Arts Center was a smash from start to finish. After all, Tynan overcame the loss of his lower legs in his twenties, and then went on to win piles of gold medals in the Paralympics. The treatments he received brought him to Medical School where he earned his M.D. to help others with his fate. Then to complete his triumph he decided to try professional singing in his 30’s and has not looked back since winning a BBC talent show in his first crack at real show business. He was a founding member of the marvelous “Three Irish Tenors,” has had a fine career in music and medicine plus being a highly sought after motivational speaker all over the world. Outside of that he hasn’t done much. The show he performed on Friday evening was long and wonderful, done by the artist who had been up all day and night after flying across an ocean and continent from Ireland to fulfill his engagement. He made it look fun and easy throughout.
At Cerritos Tynan defied the stereotype of the formal operatic tenor as he joked and cajoled and charmed the big crowd from the opening dulcet tones of “Ride On” to the final thundering “God Bless America” that had the hall filled with Republicans and Democrats standing in awe at the honest to goodness emotion he powered into the old patriotic chestnut. Truthfully, the show was so good it could have been a winner divided by four. One part would be the fine old Irish tunes he treats so lovingly like “the Wild Geese,” “When You Were Sweet Sixteen,” “Sing Me an Irish Song,” “Red as the Rose,” “Irish Molly” the exquisite “Fields of Athenry” and “Will You Go Lassie Go” sometimes known as “the Wild Mountain Thyme.” Tynan's tenor is huge and expressive, capable of going into every cockle of the human heart. He can caress a ballad and reach the upper balcony with power to spare, using his powerful frame to gain a little more rise on those high C’s.
He was also contemporary and carried off modern songs including “All I Want Is You” from U2 and the salute to the brave firemen of 9/11 called “Into the Fire” that set a few goose bumps rising in the hall. Along the way he joked and praised his own handsomeness with tongue firmly in cheek while adding texture to the songs with stories on how they came to enter into the repertoire. Lastly he was generous enough to hand the spotlight over to his accompanist Billy Lewis who was more than up to the task. Lewis is a superb pianist and a skilled singer and musicologist. He dashed off some really fun music hall stuff like “Donegan’s Daughter,” and “Frim Fram Sauce” but when he turned his attention to the little known jewel “Blackberry Winter” he gave the audience one of the most pleasant surprises of the season. Ronan Tynan was absolutely marvelous and William Lewis was right with him in talent on this night.