As someone not familiar with ‘broadgrass’ music, the main attraction of this gig was the charismatic Ramin Karimloo.
For those not in the know, Ramin is a bona fide West End star, having originated the role of the Phantom in Love Never Dies and played a host of other leading men.
But yesterday (January 29) the mask was off and Ramin was performing in his own skin, with fine accompaniment from musicians Nick Pini on bass, violinist Georgina Leach, percussionist Jessie Linden and Matthew Harvey on guitars.
They took to the stage to applause (one enthusiastic woman crying ‘I love you’ as Ramin grabbed the microphone) and launched into a rousing opening, where the band’s folk-y bluegrass sound combined with the familiar refrains of Cat Stevens’ Wild World.
Ramin then gave a pared back performance of Til I hear you Sing from Love Never Dies to rapturous applause, thus setting the tone of the evening, with stomping broadgrass tracks and Ramin’s compositions alternating with musical classics.
Show tunes, including Anthem (Chess), Bring Him Home (Les Miserables) and Being Alive (Company), were given a gentle broadgrass touch with accompaniment from banjo, bass and violin and powerful vocal harmonies from the band.
Ramin also gave an insight into his life in musicals, saying ‘I like to call him Andy’ when talking about Andrew Lloyd Webber before performing High, Flying Adored (Evita).
After 90 minutes the set was suddenly over, but the band returned for ‘a bit of a hootenanny’ encore, including a sing-along version of Oh What a Beautiful Morning, from the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic Oklahoma.
This prompted enthusiastic cheers from a few of us in the audience currently rehearsing for a production of that very show at Bury’s Theatre Royal in March.
Closing to a standing ovation, I left pondering whether there was anything about the evening I hadn’t liked.
My conclusion? I didn’t like Ramin’s jeans. And that is an exceptionally picky observation as it was truly a fantastic performance from start to finish.