Thursday, 21 January 2016

Review: An Evening With Ramin Karimloo at Islington Assembly Hall

An Evening With Ramin Karimloo 
Islington Assembly Hall
Reviewed on Wednesday 20th January 2016

Over the past couple of years Ramin Karimloo has been busy kicking up a storm on Broadway; it had been far too long since his talents graced a London stage, but this week all has been rectified. Having played Union Chapel on Tuesday, last night Karimloo performed a second sold out concert at Islington Assembly Hall.

Taking to the stage after Steve Young - who impressed with his acoustically performed original material - Karimloo proceeded to perform a well balanced one hour and forty minute set. Karimloo couldn't be further from a stereotypical musical theatre star; he is a hugely talented songwriter who always performs with consistent style.

I love that the Iranian-born Canadian actor and singer fully embraces his theatrical background whilst also showcasing Broadgrass, a new genre of music Karimloo co-created with his 'partner in crime' Hadley Fraser. The new arrangements and orchestrations of all the covers were spot on; not a single song sounded out of place.

Fraser accompanied Karimloo throughout the majority of the show. Proving that they really are the dream team, my stand out songs were 'Losing' and 'Broken' which are two numbers they co-wrote for Karimloo's The Road To Find Out - East EP. Lyrically both songs are solid whilst I could listen to the melodies all day; the country influences are entrancing. 

Musical director Tom Deering, and the entire band, are sublimely talented - their strong chemistry made such a huge difference to the overall vibe of the show, we certainly weren't just watching a bunch of people who had been thrown together for a one-off gig. Their mutual trust was evident  throughout.

Paying tribute to his theatrical career, Karimloo gave faultless renditions of 'Til I Hear You Sing' from Love Never Dies as well as 'Do You Hear The People Sing' and 'Bring Him Home' (as a stunning duet with Fraser) from Les Miserables. The atmosphere was electric all evening; when Karimloo started singing 'The Music of the Night' from The Phantom of the Opera to close the show the girl sat next to me squealed and jumped out of her seat almost crying. Each of these big songs fits Karimloo's voice like a glove, his vocal power builds up spectacularly - you can't help but feel safe in his hands.

I can't believe how much material Karimloo managed to throw into the show - it isn't possible for anybody to have been disappointed. Impressively his voice didn't tire at all, he must have vocal chords of steel. It's so nice to see someone embracing such a huge variety of musical influences whilst performing with a strong and clear sense of identity - I think a new EP or album from the Tony and Olivier nominee is long overdue. 

It was a total treat to see Karimloo letting loose once again on a London stage; Ramin Karimloo is the best of the best.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

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