March 21, 2012
On Monday 19 March, Les Misérables, Love Never Dies and Phantom of the Opera star Ramin Karimloo held a small, secret gig to thank a sample of his loyal fans. The evening was an informal mix of tracks from his soon-to-be-released album, Ramin, and personal favourites, with a Greenday song and a folky hymn thrown in for good measure. WEG was lucky enough to be there and, having recently interviewed the actor for theatre website The Public Reviews, caught up with him afterwards (although he ended up quizzing me almost as much as I did him!) Here’s Ramin on nerves, song choices and hitting the road on tour in May….
Did you enjoy the gig?
I had a great time, I’m a bit tired… It hit me today, I thought I had it all together but then this morning I was like, oh crap, it’s tonight. You know, putting my own songs out there again. Some of them we orchestrated to give more of the album feel. But it went well.
Do you think everyone showed up?
I think so, I had two lovely friends help me run the door. Those who couldn’t come I think let me know.
How did you arrange the guestlist?
I basically said, anyone who has pre-ordered [the album], tell me when you pre-ordered it and your name. I put them all in the month that they ordered them, and then took 20 per cent from each one. I had to be fair – I didn’t want to make people think that just because people bought it in October they support me more. I thought it was fair. The venue was over capacity.
How did you choose the songs?
We did an album launch a few weeks ago, so I used the same album songs from that so the band didn’t have to rehearse more – because I did this off my own back. The rest was rehearsed by email sometimes! I would send them a song, have them give it a try… the drummer had never heard them until tonight, so he was just going with it. I wanted to see how the set flowed without any musical theatre. The one song we were arguing about was Bring Him Home; my guitarist Steve Young (who is Darren Hayes’ guitarist) loves to play it on classical guitar, but it would have just felt weird to do Bring Him Home then and there.
It is your night off as well! We loved the Muse cover (Guiding Light).
Great, well that’s on the album. How did you find the country stuff?
Really good – amazing work on the banjo.
Yeah, I love bluegrass and folk. I also thought that hymn would be fun to do. I enjoy it but my band are all professional musicians who play for people like KT Tunstall – they’ll be with me on tour.
What are you looking forward to most about being on the road?
It’s just about being a songwriter and a musician, and finding myself – I’m not a character for once. It will be interesting to see the Ramin that starts it and the Ramin who finishes. Tonight, I was surprised how comfortable I felt. When I did this for industry folks, I was so stiff. I think people when they come to see this stuff, they want to see the artists enjoying their own music. It’s not about performing a character, it’s like, ‘I would do this whether you were here or not’. I felt relaxed, I didn’t feel any nerves really. Did you enjoy it?
I really enjoyed it, the band were so slick – I thought it was going to feel more impromptu than this.
Did it look like I could play the piano?
Good, because when I was in rehearsal I was like, I wanna try the piano. But then up there, with the words…!
How do you feel about wrapping up Les Mis at the end of next week?
I need it, man, I need a break. I am tired. But I’m leaving wanting more.
Do you think you would go back to it?
I hope so – if they’ll have me and I had the time to do it, that would be great.
Thanks for inviting me, and good luck on tour!Were you at Ramin’s Thank You Gig? Share your thoughts on it in the comments box below…
November 14, 2011
I was lucky enough to go along to the Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary concert last month, where I was romanced all over again by one of my earliest favourite musicals. Whether you’re largely pro- or anti-Lloyd Webber, you can’t deny the brilliance of the piece as a whole. Its (allegedly filched) arias and duets soar with gothic romance, its dashing goodie and twisted baddie are almost equally fanciable, Christine wears some stonking lingerie – in the movie version, at least – and don’t even get me started on the mist, gondolas and rogue chandeliers. The DVD of the Royal Albert Hall concert that marked the show’s quarter-century is released today and, WEG that I am, I’ve already bought my copy.
The 25th anniversary was as opulent and gaudy as the Opera Populaire should be – see my review here – although it lost a little of its haunting, wistful quality with all the projections and pyrotechnics. Still, it was worth any amount of Vegas-style pomp to see the chemistry explosion that is Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess. Their voices were endlessly impressive, their performances intense and dedicated – this was the Ramin and Sierra show. I’d still rather see the Christine and Phantom show, but you can catch that at Her Majesty’s six nights a week. Incidentally, Karimloo is set to don his convict’s beard and move to Les Mis, and I’ll certainly be booking. Is he too hot to age 20 years and die over the course of an evening? Only time will tell, but he’ll certainly sing the roof off while attempting it.
If you love the music of Phantom, you’ll want to see this daring, fully-staged version. The four tenors’ version of The Music of the Night (featuring Colm Wilkinson, Anthony Warlow, John Owen-Jones and Peter Jöback) at the end was also gorgeous – although you’ll have to grit your teeth through Sarah Brightman’s part-hilarious, part-disturbing appearance. It was sort of Mariah Carey meets Bride of Chucky, via that Whitney Houston appearance on the X Factor. And all with that same 80s hair.
Anyway, some fabulous performances and a sumptuous budget make a fitting celebration of Phantom, and while I don’t think they quite topped the Les Misérables 25th anniversary in terms of emotion and tribute, they certainly had a better casting team. Still shuddering at the thought of Jonas. Enjoy the DVD and let me know your thoughts!