On the phone .... with Michael Ball

~ for Scottish Daily Record by Paul English (13/11/ 2004) ~

The West End star talks about his surprising taste in music and his good friend The Queen.

You have a certain reputation as a show tune-singing crowd pleaser, so what's all this about singing Radiohead and David Bowie songs?

I originally did a show called Alone Together three years ago in an intimate little theatre in London and then reprieved it in the Theatre Royal a couple of weeks back. The idea was that we were to do something different, so decided it would be good to tell a story of a character's relationships with parents, lovers and friends through songs. But they had to be songs that I'd never done on stage before. It's not the kind of show I could take on a national tour, because it has to be a really intimate theatre space. Is that an indication of the kind of music you listen to yourself? Yeah. I'm listening to the Scissor Sisters a lot. Some of their stuff is very like Elton John's early material, which I love. listen to a lot of Joni Mitchell. If only had one artist to listen to for the rest of my life, it would be her. Or maybe Burt Bacharach. Do you prefer being part of a musical production or being out there on stage with a band?

They both have their merits. Being part of a company in a West End musical is a totally different vibe to singing with a band. With a concert, it's just you that the crowd are focused on, so what you present to the audience is down to you. It's magical, the best kick in the world. It's why so many artists get into trouble with drugs, because they try to recreate that buzz. You don't know what to with yourself after a high like that and that's what can get you into trouble.

Something you've never done, we'll assume?

Of course I have, you know - I'm only human. But I know when to stop.

You're commonly lumped in with the likes of Cliff Richard and Daniel O'Donnell. Does that rest easy with you?

I can't say I'm too thrilled about it. They're both still selling loads of records, but anyone who has a loyal primarily female fan base is going to be put into the same bracket. You just need to look at the kind of work that I do to see how different I am from them.

You're recording a live show in Edinburgh next month. What can fans expect?

It's being recorded by Radio 2 for their Christmas Eve concert. I'll be joined by John Owen-Jones and Celia Graham from Phantom in the West End, Mike McCarthy who is in Les Mis, and Caroline Sheen from the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang stage show. I'm touring next year, I'll have an album out in May and I'll be back in Scotland for some live shows. Before that, I'm performing a potted version of Les Mis at Windsor Castle for the Queen on Thursday. Any day now, the knighthood will be flying through.

# Michael Ball plays The Musicals At Christmas at Edinburgh's Usher Hall on December 4. The DVD, Michael Ball Live In London, is out now

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