The last time Ramin Karimloo appeared on a London stage was in October 2012 – more than 3 years ago. Since then he has gone on to become a Broadway star and has performed in venues all over the USA, not to forget appearances in Canada and Japan.
But despite being away for so long Ramin has never truly left London, the city he still considers to be his home. And on January 19th and 20th 2016 he finally found his way back on stage in his hometown. Two sold out gigs at the Union Chapel and Islington Assembly Hall clearly showed that London had not forgotten about “the Iranian with the banjo”. On both nights the audience was enthusiastic from start to finish.
Ramin has always been a unique talent with a voice of gold. From well-known musical theatre songs like “Till I hear you sing” (Love never dies”) to “Oh what a beautiful morning” (Oklahoma) and “Bring him home” (Les Miserables) – the latter a stunning duet with Hadley Fraser on this occasion – to cover versions of his personal and his own material, Ramin Karimloo doesn’t just sing lyrics and melodies, he embraces them and competely makes them his own. It’s what I call putting your soul into every song.
Ramin’s unique and personal style which he has named Broadgrass is an amalgamation of Broadway and Bluegrass music and doesn’t just suit his voice perfectly but is clearly something he truly enjoys working on.
Having followed Ramin’s career since 2010 I have always loved hearing him sing his own songs as well as cover versions of his personal favourites. Getting to listen to “Constant Angel” again was just as wonderful as being treated to his take on “Ol’ Man River” and “If it’s the beaches”. But the most wonderful thing was seeing how much he has developed over the years. He is not “just” that guy with the brilliant voice. He is a talented musician and songwriter who loves what he is doing. And on top of that Ramin is still one of the most humble and gracious performers you can imagine. He doesn’t take his supporters for granted and always does everything he can to ensure everyone leaves the venue with a smile on their face.
A special treat on both evenings was the appearance of Hadley Fraser – Ramin and his “brother from another mother” reunited on the London stage. It doesn’t get much better than this. Everyone who remembered the first Sheytoons gigs back in the days (Dublin Castle, anyone?) couldn’t help but smile all the way through “Driftwood” and “Wings”. Hadley and Ramin together are simply special – the bromance is still strong after all these years.
Ramin Karimloo is going from strength to strength. His star is shining brightly these days but no matter where his career takes him next I hope he will always return home. London needs the Iranian and his banjo.