Michael Ball - Royal Concert Hall
~ This is Nottingham - 22/09/09 ~
The last time we saw Michael Ball he was wearing a floral print frock and a rather fetching shade of pink lipstick.
My wife, the real Michael Ball fan in the house, prefers him in civvies, doing his concert thing rather than cross-dressing for his starring role in the West End hit Hairspray.
Last night he was the real deal. Sharp suit, expensively tailored to flatter the fuller figure, performing an eclectic programme of songs carefully chosen to best demonstrate the biggest voice in the business.
But this was also a Michael Ball concert full of surprises. Who, for instance, would have expected him to open with the Kiss rock anthem I Was Made For Loving You, follow that with The Killers' gorgeous hit Human, a bit of Queen and then a relatively obscure, but hauntingly beautiful, album track by '70s prog-rockers Supertramp called If Everyone Was Listening.
It was fully 35 minutes into the show before he got into the musical theatre material that made his reputation. Empty Chairs at Empty Tables from Les Miserables (of course), Aspects of Love (of course) but also the unexpected. A stunning medley from Jesus Christ Superstar, for which Michael was joined by a quintet of hugely talented young backing singers, was followed by a couple of songs from Starlight Express, about the only musical he has never been in.
Then he turned Abba's Winner Takes It All into a major piece of dramatic theatre before finishing on a roof-raising high with The Impossible Dream; not just the biggest voice, but arguably the best.