Yes, it was about two weeks ago already, but I thought it would be nice to share this.
Take That always put on an incredible live show for a pop group and I saw that for myself during their recent run at the O2 Arena in London. So much thought had clearly gone into their Wonderland tour, way more than at most gigs I’ve ever been to.
And yet it was something really simple that meant the most to me.
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.
Will Young and Billy Ocean were the entertainment for one beautiful July evening in the even more beautiful surroundings of Kew Gardens.
First up was a pop group from San Francisco, Con Brio. I sadly missed them as I came after work and then had to grab a burger (from an amazing veggie burger stand, very impressed!) However my dad announced they were ‘very good’.
Billy Ocean came next, and with him a great deal of flamboyant middle-aged dancing.
The Sons of Pitches are a six-strong male a cappella group who won TV choirmaster Gareth Malone’s The Naked Choir competition in 2015. Now they’ve just toured the UK and as good as they came across on the show, it was nothing to how fun, charming and just impeccable they are live on stage.
This was immediately obvious as the first song was an unusual but brilliant introduction to the group, going through each member and then asking if everyone from the audience to the lighting and sound guys were ready to go. They then launched into Move, a Little Mix cover which was my highlight from The Naked Choir and which retained its original hilarious (hip popping) choreography.
The gig continued in the same vein – some unique stuff to them plus some covers they’ve made their own. Standouts include Blondie’s Heart of Glass in a gypsy jazz style, the groovy Sorry by Justin Bieber and their haunting version of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights.
I was so happy to be at their first gig back at Wembley Arena on May 11th, after 11 years away. And it was so much better than I even expected.
First, though, Wheatus were the second support act (I missed Emma Blackery, sorry Emma) and they got the most love I’ve ever seen for a warm-up band. Frontman Brendan B. Brown thanked fans for keeping the Teenage Dirtbag love going all these years, but people showed appreciation for all the other songs too. They were cheeky, fun and still rocking.
On Monday (April 25) McFly announced a series of tour dates, marking their return after two and a half years off as a foursome. There were, of course, two McBusted tours and an album in that time, but many McFly fans weren’t into this as it reportedly interrupted the production of an album which we may now never see (and it’s a fallacy to say that all McFly fans are Busted fans, and vice versa).
Anyway, we finally got what we wanted and actually I think it’s much more exciting than just the usual arena or theatre tour. McFly will play all five of their albums in order over the course of three nights in four cities (London, Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester), plus ‘the hits’ at each gig too. This is really innovative, and a clever reason for the guys to get back out on tour without either having new material or just playing a greatest hits setlist.
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.