Ahead of his upcoming stint in Murder Ballad at London’s Arts Theatre, musical theatre star Ramin Karimloo performed one night only at the London Palladium as part of his unique ‘broadgrass’ experiment.
Mixing some of the musical theatre songs he became well known for with other styles, most notably bluegrass, Ramin and his band created something truly special and live on stage is certainly the best way to experience it.
Although the Palladium wasn’t sold out, the audience that was there roared with appreciation. As Ramin sung the opening words to ‘Til I Hear You Sing, written especially for him in Love Never Dies by Andrew Lloyd Webber, there was a collective gasp followed by an expectant hush.
Later on, the tender beginnings of both The Music of the Night and Bring Him Home drew huge cheers of excitement which turned out to be extremely well justified. The way in which Ramin has rearranged many of these musical songs to be totally stripped down but with that special twang is what draws people in to see him, I’m sure.
Ahead by a Century by The Tragically Hip was so poignant, as was Ramin’s origin story which took him back to flipping burgers in a Canadian kitchen aged 14, listening to that song. Similarly, as Ramin said himself, he couldn’t possibly play a gig without an Avett Brothers song, then Cat Stevens’ Wild World/On The Road To Find Out was also a highlight.
And, very happily, Ramin’s old Les Mis colleague and good friend Hadley Fraser was in the band which meant (as well as lovely harmonies and endearing quips between songs) Sheytoons songs. The pair wrote a lot of folk rock songs in their dressing rooms with great results, including Losing, Broken and Driftwood and the lesser known Steal Our Moments performed here as well.
Actually the bit that was least technically professional was Hadley completely forgetting the words to the beginning of Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, a beautiful duet between the two, but they played this off hilariously and it became a running joke for the rest of the night. So no harm, no foul.
The entire set was so well thought through, performed, and varied. A shout out to the rest of the band, who all brought a fresh energy into every song. The intimate version they performed of Edelweiss, with lead vocals from guitarist Sergio Ortega, was pretty special in the encore section, as was Ramin’s acoustic solo of Ol’ Man River from Showboat.
Ramin dropped references to Brexit and the recent turbulent times we’ve been seeing throughout the show, which made it really poignant when he finished the show with an a cappella version of Tim Erikesen’s I Wish The Wars Were All Over. It felt like a genuine hope and appeal for the world.
In every respect, this was a fantastic gig and I only hope Ramin has time to pack more solo gigs into his busy schedule.