Wednesday 13 November 2019

Review: Michael Ball

GRAND CANAL THEATRE, DUBLIN

ED POWER

Michael Ball is the latest star from the world of classical music -- though purists might object to that designation -- to turn his attention to the great rock 'n' roll songbook.

On his 'Heroes' album, the Broadway and West End star wraps his impressive tonsils around hits by Billy Joel, Scott Walker, Neil Diamond and others. The path from classical to pop is by now well trodden, but the route has served Ball well.

After a considerable period out of the limelight, the new record debuted at number 10 in the UK.

Taking the LP on the road, he goes about his business with a admirable lack of pretension. Ball has never pretended to be anything other than an old-fashioned entertainer and his groundedness serves the material well.

Some of his choices veer towards the obvious -- with 'Glee's' horrifyingly perky mauling still ringing in our ears, does the world require another tilt at Journey's 'Don't Stop Believing'? Especially one accompanied by a 15-piece band serving up artery-clogging helpings of musical cheese.

Elsewhere his selections show a keen ear for interesting material. Billy Joel's 'New York State Of Mind' benefits from Ball's over-the-top delivery -- he belts it out as though trying to crack the ceiling plaster on Broadway opening night, while Bowie's 'Heroes' fares surprisingly well.

This biggest applause is for 'This Is The Moment', from the musical 'Jekyll and Hyde'.

It helps that he seems a genuine chap who enjoys a bit of banter with the punters. Classical diehards will be aghast but it's hard to object to Ball's respectful renderings and straightforward decency.

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