Much more than 'songs from shows'

~ This is Bristol / Bristol Evening Post - by Gerry Parker - 19/06/2011 ~

Michael Ball presents Heroes Tour 2011, Colston Hall

WHEN Michael Ball started off on his first solo tour after making his name in the West End playing Marius in Les Miserables the question was asked,' 'could he sustain a whole evening on his own?'.

Displaying a warm personality and a wider variety of vocal talent than many people gave him credit for at that time, the answer to that question was a definite yes.

Since then in shows like Aspects Of Love, Phantom Of The Opera, Women In White, Kismet with the English National Opera, and most recently in Hairspray, he has shown just how wide his musical and dramatic range has grown in the 25 years since he made his West End debut as Marius.

This show was far more than an excuse to sing "songs from the shows", with production values and a lighting plot that turned this concert hall into a real stage, a terrific 12-piece band, and a five-strong supporting vocal group, who as they showed in the Tribute to Broadway sequence, were far above the usual swaying, hand-clapping backing group.

There was of course a medley of "greatest hits" from the shows, which drew instant recognition and response from an audience who by then were in the palm of Michael Ball hand. When he asked them to party towards the end of proceedings they did not need a second invitation to get up and dance in the isles. You didn't mind him being drowned a little during these moments, but on a couple of other occasions I wanted to remind the sound team that we had come to listen to Michael Ball not the fine band .

The "heroes" Michael Ball refers to in the title are his musical heroes from the days when he was first introduced to popular music.

Without mimicking them he picked up the style of as diverse talents as Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, Billy Joel, Scott Walker, Sinatra, and Presley. Using these numbers Michael showed that he was equally at home in a romantic ballad like the Johnny Mathis's hit Misty as he was belting out big Andrew Lloyd Webber songs.

This is an entertainer who has a real mutual love affair with his fans, and gives unstinting of his talent. Apart from a few brief moments when he disappeared to allow the supporting singers to display their vocal powers, he was involved with every number throughout the two-hour plus programme. No wonder they were reluctant to let him say goodbye to them.


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