It was a different show from Thursday from the start. The energy on stage, especially from the band, was palpable.
I had some trepidation as the setllist started out like the night before, but even HITYL sounded fresh (I can still do without it, thanks).
The crowd got into the show early to, with lots of applause at songs, good solos, all at the right time to feed a little energy back onstage.
The concert was staying at a pretty high level, and LIttle Village launched it ever higher.
Fabulous solos, including a knockout solo by Sarah Jory, who has been just great at every show. She is a consummate ensemble player. Every time she enters with a solo it's a little surprise and exactly what the song needs. Despite her virtuosity on steel guitar, dobro, bottleneck guitar, banjo, etc, her work is all about the song and not about her.
John Platania had his best night of the three I saw, fitting in to his role without standing out too far. Anyway, this song was where the band reached the "Good Body Music" stage, thinking back to Kingdom Hall.
Then Van capped it off with a long, fascinating sax solo, evoking all sorts of Celtic pipes over the band's groove. This was a top rendition of one of his greatest songs. The next highlight was Shana's entry for a duet. As others have said, she really stood her own on this and pushed the whole song higher each time she sang. Their harmony was so good it got a separate cheer.
Surprisingly, Playhouse was another highlight. This song gets played a lot, but not often with the energy and spirit of last night. In the Afternoon also went really well, with Van turning his back to audience and closing the song with a big, arms-up signal to the band. There was actually a pretty bad screwup on Geneva, as the band missed the quick cut to "Brand New Cadillac" , and had to play a bunch of meaningless bars to bring the song around again and do it over. Fortunately, that didn't seem to bring down the high spirits on stage. Celtic New Year > Healing Game.. drinkin' wine in the alley closed down the show.
As some pointed out, a lot of Thursday's crowd went home happy. They just didn't know how much more there was to see and hear.