On Tuesday January 19, ex-West End and Broadway Jean Valjean, Ramin Karimloo, brought his unique ‘broadgrass’ genre back to the UK with the help of some friends most notably his ex-antagonist (Javert), Hadley Fraser.
After several years away from the UK it was an absolute pleasure to hear Ramin’s voice again, so huge yet pure as it is. And of course he was supported by a fantastic group of musicians: as well as Hadley, there was musical director and pianist Tom Deering, Sergio Ortega on banjo etc, Nick Pini on double bass, Tania Elizabeth on fiddle and Joe Kwon on cello.
Interestingly, the last two normally play with The Avett Brothers to whom Ramin, helped by Joe, played an intimate tribute in the form of Murder In The City.
Other highlights included each and every Sheytoons song- Ramin and Hadley’s brainchild, bluegrass-inspired songs written while they were in Les Miserables together. They all had so much energy and joy about them, and their harmonies were just spot on.
Similarly, their duet on Bring Him Home was a tender, really special moment.
But the musician also showed they could lead a party with rollicking renditions of Oh, What A Beautiful Morning and Wagon Wheel. Really, there just wasn’t a duff moment, despite the occasionally rough parts as they only added to the spontaneity and excitement of the live performance.
The tone of the gig is summed up well in this exchange:
Ramin: “We’re giddy with nerves and drunk with friendship.”
Hadley: “Or just drunk!”
Ramin: “Not in church.”
Hadley: “This is a church?”
Speaking of the venue, the Union Chapel in Islington was absolutely packed and perfect for this kind of joyful gig with a huge mix of genres and spontaneous inventions. Ramin, please come back more.
- ‘Til I Hear You Sing (from Love Never Dies)
- Traveller’s Eyes
- On The Road To Find Out / Wild World (Cat Stevens)
- Driftwood (Sheytoons)
- Broken (Sheytoons)
- Letting The Last One Go
- Constant Angel
- State Lines with Ashleigh Gray (The Shires)
- Bring Him Home (from Les Miserables)
- We’re All In This Together
- Wings (Sheytoons)
- Oh, What A Beautiful Morning (from Oklahoma)
- Do You Hear The People Sing? (from Les Miserables)
- Murder In The City (The Avett Brothers)
- (I missed one or two here- let me know if you can fill in the gap!)
- Losing (Sheytoons)
- Wagon Wheel (Darius Rucker)