To go with his recently released EP Just Let Go, singer-songwriter Hadley Fraser put on a special gig at Richmond’s intimate, in-the-round Orange Tree Theatre on Sunday January 10.
Fraser has built up a following largely thanks, no doubt, to some stellar West End turns including a run as Javert in Les Miserables. But although this theme is touched upon in the setlist, folk influences are much more pervasive and suit the singer’s impassioned voice so well.
The evening began with Just Let Go, setting the scene nicely with a Fraser original, some spine-tingling ‘oohs’ to start and a gentle acoustic guitar. On Constellation Street was probably the most breathtakingly tender of the songs from the EP, while Heading West and Herne & The Red Kite benefited from some laid back harmonies.
Said harmonies came from Fraser’s colleagues who joined him on stage: Ramin Karimloo, ex-West End and Broadway Jean Valjean, and musical theatre writer Dougal Irvine.
Each singer brought something different (though both sported the egg shaker at various points!) Irvine brought one of his own songs, Silence and the Rain, deft guitar skills, and chipped in with smooth upper harmonies.While Karimloo brought his banjo (plus guitar), truly incredible voice and an evident joy to be on stage with his friend.
This was never more clear than in three particular songs: Losing and Broken, the old Sheytoons bluegrass tunes as written by Fraser and Karimloo while they starred in Les Miserables together. Then, the highlight of the evening even amongst so much competition, their duet on Bring Him Home from that musical, which certainly threatened tears in my eyes.
There was also lots of joking and reminiscing between songs from all three of those on stage in a way which included the whole audience (of up to 200, by my estimate) and helped make the whole event even more intimate and special.
Other covers throughout the evening which stood out were Fraser’s rough version of Ray Charles’ Hard Times, his passionate Wichita Lineman, and Karimloo’s Ol’ Man River.
All that remains to be said is these gentlemen all have truly top-class voices with tremendous range and subtlety – even though the performance was quite raw, at times more like a jam session, the emotion poured into each song’s rough rendition made it more personal.
Seeing them in such a special theatre space was a privilege.
Video of On Constellation Street as performed two years ago pasted below, to give a taster…