Eventim Apollo, London
In his premiere London concert, Ben Platt performed his Sing To Me Instead tour to thunderous applause and proved that sublime vocal skill and authentic connection are the perfect combination for a magical night.
Opening the evening was James TW. A British singer-songwriter, James instantly got the audience on his side through his earnest songs and impressive vocals which set the tone for the intimate evening ahead. His stripped down version of ‘Hey Ya!’ was particularly entertaining, especially as the audience sang back in a wonderful moment of synchronicity. Personally the most moving song was ‘When You Love Someone’ which was performed with absolute candor and highlighted why James is succeeding in his career so far.
After a brief interval, headliner Platt took to the stage to almighty applause as he sung out his first instantly recognisable phrase. From the opening moment we were transferred to a vibrant jam session which was energetic and magnetic throughout. The opening song, ‘Bad Habit’, paved the way for the signature vibrato, laid back vibe and insanely well performed concert we were about to experience.
With a set list almost exclusively featuring songs from Platt’s debut album, this was a wonderful chance to see and hear him outside the restraints of playing a character. Whilst yet to perform in a West End musical, it was clear from the many people sporting Dear Evan Hansen merchandise, that a lot of his fans are from his theatre work.
What was wonderful about this concert, is that despite not featuring any musical theatre numbers, it felt just as emotive and transformative as sitting through a plot-filled musical and will entertain both stageys and non-stageys alike. If the album is not enough to assure you of Platt’s vocal prowess, seeing him live will absolutely seal the deal.
Platt animatedly chatted between songs as he found ways to open himself up and connect to the audience. Short anecdotes about each piece added a depth which seemed to resonate with everyone there. In a night of perfectly performed songs it’s hard to label standouts, but ‘Honest Man’ and ‘Share Your Address’ were particular favourites as they radiated energy thanks to Platt and his outstanding band and backup singers. Throughout the concert Platt used his smooth riffs and a soaring range to share the various life lessons he’s learned and seemed to truly be loving every minute of it.
Aside from Ben’s own music, he also put his spin on some other artists. Brandi Carlile’s The Joke was goosebump inducing, whilst Stevie Wonder’s Overjoyed transported us to a bopping bar and the melody of Elton Jonh’s Take Me To The Pilot was emphasised and enthusiastically performed.
The intimate feel of the Sing To Me Instead album was perfectly reflected in the stage layout which was dotted with cushions and family photos. Every beat of each song was matched faultlessly through the lighting design of the tour. Superbly theatrical, warm and awe-inspiring, it was truly the most well lit concert I’ve ever experienced and made the night not only aurally pleasing, but visually stunning.
Ben closed the night with Older and Run Away; two beautifully controlled pieces which solidified him as performer in his own right, outside of playing a character. As audience members, we were welcomed into Ben’s world and he did not shy away from letting us in on his triumphs and flaws. This connection was truly magical and I have absolutely no doubt that Ben will continue to beguile and inspire audiences around the world.
photo credit: Olivia Mitchell