Michael Ball OBE is a globally renowned performer whose credits notably include the original production of Les Misérables as Marius and Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love as Alex. His countless Broadway, West-End, and television appearances define his legendary status in musical theatre history. This current tour is a musical ode to his work both past and present and his newest solo album ‘Coming Home to You’ (2019).
On entering The Bridgewater Hall, an electric hum of excitement bellowed through the venue, as his rather adoring - borderline obsessive - fanbase were waiting in anticipation to see the acclaimed singer. The venue, which is always glorious to be in, was fitted with a large screen, projecting Michael Ball’s name. Following a previous visit to this theatre watching Disney’s Beauty and the Beast with a live orchestra, I had high expectations for the night as The Bridgewater Hall accompanies music like no other concert hall.
The concert was of course a celebration of Ball’s most recent album (Coming Home to You); however, the songs that worked the most in the space were the songs taken from his past musical theatre work. Songs including Blood Brother’s “Tell Me It’s Not True’ sounded magical as the venue perfectly illuminated the theatrical style of its composition. The way the venue amplified the emotion in the string and woodwind instruments in the musical theatre songs was unmatched in the performance of his more folksy, original music like ‘Tennessee Dreams’.
An element of the concert which I thought was unnecessary and visually unpleasant was the use of the back screen through certain songs. Although used effectively in songs such as ‘Not While I’m Around’ (Sweeney Todd) - using a red smoke visual to contextualise the musical’s dark and bloody atmosphere, the majority of cliché uses of computer generated visuals in songs such as Beauty and the Beast’s ‘Evermore’ were almost laughable at times. Conversely, the use of simplistic colourful LED lighting was effective in creating a theatrical style and an intimacy between the audience and Ball.
Some moments of the night could only be described as epic. The Act 2 opener was ‘He Lives In You’ from the Lion King, and was a highlight of the night both vocally and musically. This performance created an overwhelming sense of power through Ball’s vocal delivery and the band’s intense performance. In a more camp fashion, Ball’s iconic Eurovision hit ‘One Step Out of Time’ completely engaged the adoring crowd in its charismatic cheesiness and fun pop sound. Getting the crowd on their feet, another song ‘You can’t Stop the Beat’ from hairspray also brought the fun factor to the night’s performance; a performance that was difficult not to smile through. Even more sentimental and nostalgic moments such as the Les Misérables medley and ‘Love Changes Everything’ were perfectly intimate and special, as Ball said himself that touring was his favourite as he sees the personal reflection in each audience member’s face as they hear the music, stating music connects us all.
This Show Gets:
Altogether, the night was campy, electric, at times intimate and poignant, but mostly an enjoyable performance from a rightfully legendary singer. If you are a fan of either Michael Ball or musical theatre, do not miss out on your chance to hear some classic songs performed by a vocal master.