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Emerald smile

PUBLISHED: 11:48 22 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:24 03 March 2010

BATHED in a blaze of white light, Daniel O'Donnell stepped onto the stage, and soon got his rapt audience singing and clapping.

Whoops of delight greeted old favourite tunes like Living Next Door to Alice, and a rendition of Footsteps was rounded off with an impromptu posing session for Evening Star photographer John Kerr, which prompted fits of laughter.

BATHED in a blaze of white light, Daniel O'Donnell stepped onto the stage, and soon got his rapt audience singing and clapping.

Whoops of delight greeted old favourite tunes like Living Next Door to Alice, and a rendition of Footsteps was rounded off with an impromptu posing session for Evening Star photographer John Kerr, which prompted fits of laughter.

Standing on one leg, the other waving in the air, the Irish songster complained he was not as supple as he used to be, then proceeded to lie on the floor and recline for a picture.

O'Donnell, who was given an MBE in the New Years Honours list, and was last week presented with an award by Prince Charles in Dublin for his charity work, played to a sell-out audience of fans at the Ipswich Regent.

Many had queued for days for their tickets, and others had booked to go three nights in a row to be serenaded by their hero.

Daniel sang several tracks from his new album Live, Laugh, Love, and regular fans noticed the programme was slightly different this time. Daniel took to the stage first - rather than Mary Duff who appeared in a sequinned gown just before the interval - and completed a show lasting longer than three hours.

Each song was introduced with his anecdotes about growing up in a farming family on the Emerald Isle, a far cry from last night's stage.

Janet Cook from Ashdale Road, Kesgrave, went with her husband John, and said: "I've been coming for the past ten years, and it's nice to see him on stage first, it's nice like that.

"I think people are clapping and getting into the show quite quickly tonight too."

Ipswich sisters Betty Ward, 66, and Doreen Chapman, 72, were loving the performance and looking forward to returning on Saturday night too.

Betty, from Radcliffe Drive, said: "I first saw him at the Spa Pavilion in Felixstowe in 1987 when my sister-in-law invited me and I said 'Daniel who?' I'd never heard of him.

"I have come to see him every year after, because everything about his personality is so special."

Doreen, from Bunting Road, said: "He's so caring, a wonderful man. He is so genuine."

She said that watching his videos had helped her though difficult times in life.

Alma Palmer had travelled a 45-minute journey from Beck Row, near Mildenhall to see the star - and will return again tonight and Saturday to see every one of his shows this weekend.

She said: "People say 'don't you get fed up, going to see him three nights in a row?' but he always varied the performances. I say you can't let him come this close to home without coming to see him.

"If anyone gives me money for my birthday or Christmas, it's spent on him."

Market researcher Estelle Kelleher from Swaffham, Norfolk, had brought her mother, in her eighties, for a night out.

The 55-year-old said: "She thoroughly enjoys it. He is really very good, and good value for money because he is on the stage so long.

"He talks like he's talking to you personally, it's as though you're sitting in his living room and chatting."

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