Falling for the easy charms of Ball

Michael Ball - Opera House

Blackpool

With a national tour and a new album, both inquiringly-entitled If Everyone Was Listening, you might be forgiven for thinking there might just possibly be somebody out there who has not yet fallen for the easy charm of Michael Ball.

Certainly, everyone crowded into Blackpool Opera House was listening, and appreciating, a singer – sorry, actor as he reminded us – whose grip on the national consciousness has now transcended his roles in musical theatre and made him something of a music buff on Sunday night radio.

From that programme come many of the 19 songs on the new album, including the Supertramp title track.

There’s a distinct country and western flavour among them and these and a few pop standards, old and new, pepper the concert’s opening.

But by the time the stage sound is properly balanced, and he can unleash his baritone on Jason Mraz’s I Won’t Give Up, everything and everyone feels right at home with the kind of power ballad that is Ball’s signature.

Again and again he emphasises that it is his love for music and great songs that drives his career and the respect he shows them is evident. He’s not here to re-interpret them but to pay homage.

His straightforward rendition of Labi Siffre’s Something Inside So Strong, that opens the second of two hour-long acts, was a case in point.

Naturally though he’s not about to disappoint his legions of show-song fans so there’s a medley of big musical numbers with which to close the first act, not least among them I Won’t Send You Roses from the Mack and Mabel musical he brings to Manchester in 
October.

And only a super-confident star could mash together a string of songs from Les Mis or Blood Brothers with tracks by Katy Perry and Pharrell Williams.

For his Hairspray/Aspects of Love encore it was standing room only for an audience where Everyone Was Lapping It Up.

David Upton