The High Kings of Ireland sail into Helena right on the heels of St. Paddy’s Day festivities with a concert 5 p.m. Sunday, March 24 at the Helena Civic Center Ballroom.
This Starz on Stage concert will be the last performance in their whirlwind, monthlong U.S. tour that’s seen more than half their shows sold out.
And it just might happen here.
The Helena gig is The High Kings’ first Montana concert in their nearly 12-year-history as a band, and their sole Montana stop.
“This is the ‘Decade’s’ tour,” said founding member Darren Holden in a phone interview from Columbus, Ohio.
The “Decade” album is a “best of” compilation of the past 10 years of music by the multi-platinum artists.
“It’s been a big, big success for us,” Holden said.
When it was released in 2017, “Decade” shot to No. 1 on the Irish music charts, as well as in Germany, Belgium and Holland. It also charted No. 1 on various iTunes and Amazon charts and on Billboard’s World Music chart.
One of the things that most excites Holden about this tour is that he’s seeing a growing number of young people in the audience.
Their Cleveland audience last week was predominantly late teens and early 20s.
In fact, the band’s got its own groupies in the United States, much to The High Kings’ amazement.
About 40 people have followed the tour attending a bunch of the concerts, Holden said, and bring the band members cookies, hats and other goodies.
“The ‘Decade’ album was a nice way to finish the first 10 years of the band,” Holden said.
The demand for High Kings’ music has been so great that the album tour has already been extended three times, taking them around the world.
It’s kept them so busy, they haven’t even been able to think about their next project or get into a recording studio.
Holden said the Helena concert will be a mix of original tunes and traditional music.
“What we do with The High Kings is we re-energize and refresh these old songs while maintaining the original vibe.”
Their two-hour show will be a mix of fast, slow and heartfelt tunes.
They’ll also play at least one original song Holden wrote, “Oh Maggie,” which audiences love. It has “a real kind of sing-along, memorable, catchy, chanty chorus.”
“I wrote that song while I was chopping vegetables in my kitchen,” he said, which inspired its beat. “The chorus of the song almost wrote itself in my head.”
Another much-loved tune they’ll sing is a classic Irish ballad by Phil Coulter, “The Town I Loved So Well,” about Derry during the time of the Troubles and how it changed the town.
“It’s a real deep, meaningful song,” said Holden.
Another favorite is “Rocky Road to Dublin,” a lively, catchy drinking song with an irresistible, soaring spirit.
Adding to the concert’s festive mood will be Irish dancing by the Tiernan Dancers.
All the band members Finbarr Clancy, Brian Dunphy, George Murphy and Holden, have earned loyal fan followings from their earlier music careers aside from their stint in The High Kings.
Holden lived in the United States for eight years, and starred as The Piano Man (Billy Joel) in the Tony Award-winning hit Billy Joel/Twyla Tharp musical “Movin’ Out.”
He was also lead singer with “Riverdance” on Broadway.
Clancy grew up in the Clancy family Irish music dynasty and toured with the Clancy Brothers.
Dunphy was a lead singer with “Riverdance The Show” and also performed with the Three Irish Tenors.
The newest band member, Murphy has been lauded for his “remarkable, unmistakable powerhouse of a voice.”
Both album and concert reviews have been glowing.
“The four Kings — Darren Holden, Finbarr Clancy, Brian Dunphy and new member George Murphy — brought the house down in Vicar Street for their fourth headliner in that venue,” wrote Colleen Taylor of a Dublin concert in the Irish Echo, July 2018.
“Each singer in the High Kings could have a solo career (and they do) but the fact that they come together as this super-quartet makes the band truly extraordinary, and hearing their harmonies an inimitable experience.”
Concert tickets are $25-$30 and can be purchased at starzonstage.net, Leslie’s Hallmark (next to the Dive Bakery) on 11th Avenue, or by calling 406-227-9711. They will also be available at the door, depending on availability.
Concessions will be available, and the Algeria Shrine Temple will also have a variety of beverages for sale.