Another year, another Ramin Karimloo gig – something I’ve been looking forward to for months. After spending time on Broadway performing in the musical Anastasia, he has come back to the UK for a bit. His last Royal Festival Hall gig was back in 2012 – I don’t know where the time’s gone since then!
I can’t find a setlist, but Ramin sang songs from the musicals he is known for, like Phantom and Les Miserables – Music of the Night, Till I Hear You Sing, Bring Him Home – and tunes from other musicals like Oklahoma!, The Greatest Showman and Finding Neverland – Oh What A Beautiful Morning, From Now On and Neverland. He also included songs he has written himself and released previously, as well as a number of new songs. One of the reasons I love seeing Ramin live is that I am always being introduced to new types and genres of music.
It was such a good night and I only hope I don’t have to wait for another year to see Ramin live again.
I’ve written before about how much I love Ramin Karimloo, and I’ve been looking forward to his Union Chapel concert for months: he hasn’t performed in the UK for several years, owing to his role as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables on Broadway, followed by a stint in Japan. I was not the only one to be excited by the news, as the concert was sold out really quickly, so I was very happy to have got a ticket.
The Union Chapel is a beautiful venue, a working chapel which also hosts gigs, talks and other assorted events. It can be a bit chilly inside, but you’re allowed to take a cup of tea to your seat and watch the show, which helps create a cosy atmosphere. I must be getting old – this sounds very appealing compared to the traditional concert experience of moshing with a can of lager!
Ramin himself sounded incredible, but then I hadn’t expected anything less. He opened the show with “‘Til I Hear You Sing”, which is one of my favourite Andrew Lloyd Webber songs, and sang several musical numbers including “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” and “Bring Him Home”, which he performed as a duet with Hadley Fraser, who was present on stage for the entire concert. What I love about Ramin, though, is that he is so versatile – over the last few years he has branched out from musical theatre, and his gig included original songs and covers ranging from country and bluegrass to rock.
The concert was such a brilliant experience, and I’m really glad I made the effort to go. Who knows when Ramin will be back in the UK again? I’ve added the setlist at the bottom of this post: I would encourage you to go and look up the list on YouTube, to discover why this man is so amazing.
I’ve already written about Ramin Karimloo on this blog – the singer who I got to know in his West End roles as the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera and Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, and who has been touring for several months with his own material and and a few covers. He is also part of a musical duo with Hadley Fraser, another West End star who played Raoul in the 25th anniversary production of Phantom at the Royal Albert Hall, and Javert in Les Miserables alongside Ramin. On Sunday I went to see the two of them play the main stage of the St James Theatre in west London.
I generally like pop music which tends to be performed in huge arenas, so it was a nice change to experience such a small and intimate atmosphere. Ramin and Hadley were so friendly and funny and had brilliant banter between themselves and with the audience – at one point Ramin even pointed out his kids, who were in the audience with his wife, as the youngest had gone to sleep – so sweet! There was a brilliant atmosphere, laid back, relaxed and cheerful.
I enjoyed the music, which was a mixture of covers and original songs that tended towards folk, country and bluegrass. None of these are styles of music I’d normally enjoy, but my obsession with Ramin has introduced me to many songs I wouldn’t otherwise have listened to! I have to say, I do think Ramin is the more talented of the two. He has a really distinctive voice and his songs were stronger. I don’t want to offend any Hadley fans, but although he is clearly a lovely and talented guy, I didn’t think his voice was particularly distinctive and his songs weren’t as good as Ramin’s, in my opinion. Having said that, the two of them made a great pairing: they obviously get on and they sing and perform very well together.
I first came across Ramin Karimloo when he played the Phantom in the sequel to the original Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies. Since then I’ve seen him as the Phantom in the 25th anniversary production at the Royal Albert Hall, sat in the front row to see him play Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, and watched him at a concert in the Royal Festival Hall. He has an incredible voice, seems like a lovely person and is very versatile: the music he plays ranges from Broadway and West End classics through to indie-guitar ballads and American country and bluegrass, hence the title of his two gigs in London on Sunday and Monday.
I was lucky enough to get a ticket for last night’s show and it was fantastic. The venue was a really intimate one and the atmosphere was friendly as everyone there was an enthusiastic Ramin fan. The presence of a number of guests mixed things up a bit: singer Simon Bailey performed a track with Ramin and then sang one of his own; Lee Mead and Stephen Rahman-Hughes sang backing vocals to ‘Oh What a Beautiful Morning’; and Hadley Fraser (who performed as Raoul opposite Ramin’s Phantom and Inspector Javert with Ramin’s Jean Valjean) joined the stage so that the duo could perform as the Sheytoons. I had an amazing time, although I managed to consume slightly too much wine.
This morning I saw that the setlist had been posted on Ramin’s Twitter feed, which is handy as I didn’t recognise all of the songs. Now I know what they are!
My highlight of the night was when Ramin performed ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Miserables – absolutely stunning. I can’t wait to see him live again!