Friday, 30 November 2012

Broadway To Bluegrass...ish (Monday 26th Nov - Club 229 Great Portland Street)

poster design by Rachel Suzanne

This gig was organised by Ramin as a small, intimate one to say thank you to his fans who have joined him on the road to find out this year. He, very aptly, named it ‘Broadway to Bluegrass’ as this encapsulates the areas he’s explored so far – musicals being his break into the business and bluegrass and folk being his true passion.

I’ve been on my own, personal road to find out this year too, discovering who I am as an individual again. This involved actually doing things alone which has been scary but exciting. I’ve been to West End shows, stayed at hotels, gone to big public events like West End Live and eaten at restaurants (which I still don’t particularly like doing on my own, truth be told, but one has to eat). Of all the things I’ve done this year, though, going solo to a gig made me the most nervous. I would never normally go into a club or bar without being with a group of people. This was different, though. The one thing I’ve said this year is I don’t want to miss out on things anymore - just because friends from home have different interests, doesn’t mean I should miss out on mine, especially since theatre is such an important part of my life.

There are two factors that made it easier though. For one, there’s something different about being in London. The easy anonymity that it naturally lends; many people pass by but each are in a private world of their own. The second is the portal to a pool of likeminded people called Twitter. Although I would surely have met these people along the way, the introduction is made more fluid having already communicated online. Twitter has been the cement holding my road together this year – for meeting people & for finding out about events/shows/gigs.

Right. I’m going to get onto the gig itself now, I promise.

Upon entering the venue, it strikes me how understated it is. Not dissimilar from my local gig venue (though not quite so grimy). I hear the excited hum of chatter drifting from the venue. I turn up just before the 8pm start time, at 7.50pm, as I’m nervous about waiting in a bar too long on my own. It’s okay, though, the view is still great and I end up standing with Heather from Eastenders to my right and Ramin’s guests behind me (who these were, I’ll reveal later).

Just as I’ve got a vodka and lemonade from the bar, Ramin walks onto the stage to the excited applause from the eagerly awaiting audience. He immediately kicks off the show with ‘Broken Home’ from his album and the atmosphere is vibrant with people immersed in admiration for this man.

**To the right, you’ll find the picture of the set list for Monday evening. I’m not going to do an expose on each song on the list because that would be boring for us both. Instead I’ll touch on what I felt were the highlights of the evening (in no particular order, because that’s the way I roll)**

Near the start was one of my personal favourites – ‘Constant Angel’. I always like to hear him play it live. For me, it makes me think of my dad watching over me. For some, it may have religious or spiritual connotations; others may just like it for the beauty of the music alone. Whatever the reason, a lot of people feel drawn to this one.  

There was a song from the musical ‘Ragtime’ which I’m not too familiar with and only vaguely know because I think Ramin performed it at St David’s Hall earlier this year. It’s a song called ‘Make Them Hear You’ and gave me goosebumps when he sang it.

Another musical theatre number Ramin performed was from Jonathan Larson’s lesser known musical ‘Tick, Tick, Boom’. The song’s called ‘See Her Smile’ and the way Ramin sang it, with the rock tinged musical theatre voice, I could suddenly picture him as Roger from Larson’s slightly better known musical ‘Rent’.

To end the first act he called Lee Mead (Joseph & the Technicolour Dreamcoat) and Stephen Rahman-Hughes (Teatro) to the stage from where they had been watching toward the back of the venue. Together they sang an impromptu, very upbeat version of ‘Oh, What a Beautiful Morning’ that was a lot of fun to watch and join in with.

There was a little Sheytoons reunion on this evening also, with Hadley Fraser joining Ramin on stage for a few of their own songs, including ‘Broken’ and ‘Driftwood’ .There was also talk of getting together in January and February for a Sheytoons gig. I’m not sure if this was just a bit of teasing, but watch this space.

I also really enjoy watching Ramin perform songs by the artists that have influenced him such as Johnny Cash (‘Folsom Prison Blues’), Avett Brothers (‘The Once and Future Carpenter’) and Mumford & Sons (‘White, Blank Page’) and the harmonies in 'Closer Walk With Thee' are always stunning to hear and this song often goes round my head days later.

Ramin’s other guest was Simon Bailey, currently playing Raoul in the Phantom of the Opera 25th anniversary tour. He performed a beautiful song called ‘Goodbye’ from his new album ‘Looking Up’. It’s a poignant message to someone he’s lost and I think that’s something we can all relate to which is why it struck a chord with most people there that evening.

Ramin ended on his song ‘Coming Home’ which is perfect as a last song both for lyrics and the powerful music.

Except it wasn’t quite the last song. I think none of us wanted to leave and so we cheered on until Ramin and co came back on stage to do a few more encore songs, finally ending with his rendition of Greenday’s classic ‘Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)’. Which, I think it’s safe to say, everybody there most certainly did.

I also want to acknowledge Ramin’s band without which the evening wouldn’t have been quite so dynamic – Katie Birtill providing back-up vocals and beautiful harmonies, Ruth Clarke-Irons on violin, Sergio Ortega on guitar, Steve Young on guitar and vocal harmonies. The other members of the band I only know first names for which I found on Ramin’s twitter timeline -  Kenny on keyboard, Phil on Drums and Dave on Bass. 

I couldn’t leave the venue on this occasion without meeting Ramin. I’m not particularly one for needing to meet the people I admire but since I had the opportunity for once (since I didn’t need to rush for a train or battle weather conditions or leave because a friend has aching feet) I decided I should take it. He was very much the gentleman that I’ve heard he is, shaking my hand and thanking me for coming. 

As nervous as I was about attending this gig, I’m glad that I did. I had a lot of fun, the atmosphere was exhilarating, the music breathtaking and it was nice to meet some people I chat to on twitter. A very memorable evening, indeed. 

Talking of people from twitter, I’m going to direct you to some of their blogs/ you tube channels now for some pictures and videos from the event, rather than post them all individually, which would result in a ridiculously long list. I always think it’s nice to read several peoples experiences of an event too – it paints a more detailed overall picture:-

Ignited by a Dream - Blog post with videos (both nights) 
Thoughts of a Blue Eyed Girl - Blog post with pictures & videos

below are some good youtube channels belonging to some very reliable people who often film these events. It's quite beneficial to subscribe to them on youtube if you don't like to miss out on theatre events but can't always be there.

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