After attending the first concert of Ramin’s current UK tour at the Royal Festival on May 1st it was time for a trip to Southend to see number two of the seven concerts I’m booked to watch in total (this could be called dedication or maybe pure madness).
The concert took place at Cliffs Pavillion which – although a nice local venue – was quite a change to the rather impressive Royal Festival Hall a few nights before. Everything looked a little smaller and didn’t have that much of a big city vibe to it. The audience seemed to be a mix between Ramin’s loyal supporters and local residents who probably attend almost every event at “their venue”.
There were some changes to the set list compared to the first concert a few days before which shows that this tour is indeed a road to find out as Ramin has called it.
“Show me light” once again proved to be a great song to start the show. There’s nothing better than a good uptempo beat to start a concert if you ask me.
I very much enjoyed the mix of songs from Ramin’s album, covers of some of his personal favourites and well-known musical tunes. Judging from the people around me it seemed that the musical songs were the most eagerly awaited ones though. I’d like to quote the lady next to me who announced just after Ramin finished “Till I hear you sing”: THAT is what I came here for!
Personally I will never get tired of hearing Ramin sing “Constant Angel” and “Cathedrals” and I adore his cover of The Avett Brothers’ “I and love and you” which was sung with the fantastic Katie Birtill on this occasion. Katie is a member of the Capital Voices who are supporting Ramin on this tour by providing excellent backing voices. In Southend the audience was lucky enough to hear more of Katie when Ramin asked her to join him on lead vocals for several songs. Her voice suited the songs beautifully and I hope she’ll be doing some lead vocals again in the upcoming concerts.
Ramin’s guest at this concert was the fantastic Ben Richards who sang “Walking in Memphis” and “Amazing” (you can download his version of this song on iTunes – all money goes to the Macmillan Cancer Support) and did a great version of “Big yellow taxi” with Ramin in the second half of the concert.
It was nice to hear “Losing” again which was announced as a new song but all the Sheytoons supporters will surely remember it. It certainly is a beautiful tune and definitely a great addition to the set list.
A special mention goes to Steve Young who is not only playing the guitar in Ramin’s band but also lends his voice to some of the songs. Hearing him, Katie and Ramin sing “Closer walk with thee” was one of my highlights of this concert. Ramin’s version of “Oh what a beautiful morning” (one could call it “The Banjo Remix”) is another song that stuck in my head after both concerts as it was such a unique and well done take on a musical classic.
All in all this was a diverse and enjoyable evening that offered something for everyone. Personally I would have loved to hear more non-musical theatre songs but I fully understand that the majority of Ramin’s supporters want to hear him sing those tunes and would be highly disappointed if they weren’t part of the concert. But if there’s ever a free song slot: I’m quite certain everyone in the audience would enjoy listening to “Wings” or “Driftwood” (you might have noticed by now that I am quite a Sheytoons fan).
I’m not a hundred percent sure about some of the scripted little tales in between the songs. Of course Ramin can’t tell new things at every concert and those “fillers” in between are there to connect the songs and lead through the evening. But take “Oh what a beautiful morning” after which Ramin told the audience that he was sure they had never heard the song done like this before. That was absolutely true at the first concert and fit in well there. However in Southend more than a few people in the audience had already heard that exact version of the song as they had been at the London concert three days before. So when Ramin said “I bet you have never heard the song like this before” the answer from several people in the auditorium was “I have! On Tuesday…”. This was all in good humour no big thing but it might be worth considering that a lot of fans will attend several of his concerts and maybe just go for more “free speech” instead of following “the script”. Especially since Ramin did have a fair amount of unplanned funny banter with his band, Ben and the audience which came across really well.
I’m very much looking forward to the concerts in Liverpool and Manchester now. It will be interesting to see how Ramin and his tour develop on this road to find out.
Before I leave you with the song list of the evening I would like to mention that Ramin (and Ben) stayed in the foyer of the venue for ages after the concert to sign programmes and CDs and chat with the fans. After performing on stage for two hours this is something that should not be taken for granted and shows just how much Ramin values his supporters.
Show me light
The impossible dream
If ever I would leave you
I and love and you
Walking in Memphis (Ben Richards)
Amazing (Ben Richards)
Radames letter / Till I hear you sing
Oh what a beautiful morning
Bring him home
The perfect space / Hallelujah
Eyes of a child
Big yellow taxi (with Ben Richards)
Closer walk with thee
Music of the night
A big thank you to Sarah for letting me use two of her photos from the evening!