Jeremy Jordan has been no stranger to London over the last five years, visiting several times to wow audiences with his reliably high quality shows and immeasurable talent. After previous shows at the Hippodrome and Cadogan Hall, watch out West End, here Jeremy Jordan comes for his biggest shows yet at the iconic Theatre Royal Drury Lane for two suitably huge shows. But does bigger always mean better?
If you aren’t familiar with Jeremy Jordan, or “Jezza” as he is apparently known when he is in the UK, he has made a name for himself by starring in a number of Broadway shows including The Last Five Years, Newsies and Waitress as well as TV shows including cult classic (that apparently was bigger in the UK) Smash. This concert featured greatest hits from all of these shows, immediately winning the audiences over bursting on to the stage with ‘Moving Too Fast’ from The Last Five Years. A staple of his live shows is his spellbinding version of ‘Santa Fe’ from Newsies – you could hear a pin drop as he masterfully performed it, in a way only he could.
No stranger to Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Jeremy previously played here for two “concerts” (as he hilariously put it, concerts in the UK apparently mean a fully staged production) to reprise his role as Clyde Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde, 10 year after he closed the show on Broadway. Not only did the success of those concerts go on to spawn a highly successful West End run (admittedly with another Jordan at the helm) but it allowed many more people in the West End to fall in love with Jeremy Jordans voice (What took you so long?) allowing him to return for these two massive headline shows himself.
He revisited his time in Bonnie and Clyde for a medley of songs where he was reunited with his West End Bonnie, the wonderful Frances Mayli McCann for duets of two numbers from the show. The first night also featured another very special guest as Jeremy reunited with his Smash co-star Andy Mientus for a performance of ‘What You Own’ from Rent. When I tell you, this made my Smash obsessive heart soar, I’m not exaggerating. I may have actually squealed when I realised what was happening – apologies to those around me.
We all know Jeremy Jordan can sing anything. His vocal range is, quite frankly, insane. What you may not expect though is the versatility and surprise factor of his setlist. His concerts have been known for throwing out the unexpected, and this was no exception. Thanks in part to the genius musical direction of Benjamin Rauhala, they have become known for their medleys and they had some of their best ever in store for this concert, with Jeremy showing the classically trained aspect to his voice and his incredibly versatility as a performer as he tackled some of the classics that had been staged at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, as well as a fantastic look into roles he could play for shows currently on in the West End including a showstopping and hilarious ‘You’ll Be Back’ from Hamilton and THAT ‘Roxanne’ opt up from Moulin Rouge Theatre Twitter regularly go mad for.
Joined by the biggest band Jeremy has performed with in London, a beautiful string section made the music soar and fill every inch of the vast Theatre Royal Drury Lane stage, joined by backing vocals from the West Ends own Luke Baker and Katie Ramshaw. With gorgeous (and sometimes blinding) lighting from Jack Weir, this was a production that befitted the grand scale of the occasion.
The banter with Benjamin is what makes Jeremys shows different to the norm. With Benjamin having “carte blanche” to interrupt Jeremy whenever he wants, this leads to some truly laugh out loud moments – the favourite of which was when Benjamin thew Jeremy off by declaring “You were a twink”. When you go to a Jeremy Jordan concert, you might come for the music but you’ll stay for the comedy. Together, they forms a brilliant double act on stage, with Benjamin truly becoming the Anna to his Elsa (We are in Frozen territory, after all).
Speaking of that icy favourite you can usually find on this very stage, Benjamin continually teased Jeremy by playing the intro to ‘Let It Go’, though he eventually admitted defeat and gave the audience a rousing burst of the Disney classic that simultaneously makes children scream with delight and parents scream in horror. Jeremy also recreated the performances he does at home with his 3 year old daughter who loves “Number 2 Frozen” (as she calls it) merging into a mash up of ‘Into The Unknown’ and ‘Show Yourself’ that will make even the coldest of hearts melt.
The concert was methodically thought out with act one being centred on London and act two more to do with America. Between those acts, there were separate sections with act one featuring 3 songs devoted to his new musical project, the band Age of Madness. For these songs, he brought out Mikael from his band to give the audience a tease of what to expect when the band make their London debut for a show in November. They even debuted a brand new song that hasn’t been heard before, the beautiful sounding ‘Hardinge Garden’. As Jeremy encouraged the audience to film, you can see my video of this number below:
Last year, Jeremy streamed a performance of a brand new show called ‘Carry On’ filmed at 54 Below in New York. This still seems to be a bit of a secret among the wider theatre audience, but to say it was a special show is an understatement (You can read my review of the stream here). Jeremy treated us to highlights from the show, performing three numbers from it to a truly captivated audience. What makes these numbers different from the others are the way Jeremy mixes stories from his childhood inbetween verses of the songs in what Jeremy refers to as a very public therapy session. With unrivalled storytelling ability taking in both youthful innocence, hilarious tales and utter heartbreak and tragedy, he had the audience bawling by the time he finished a highly emotional ‘When You Say Nothing At All’ (even if he didn’t realise the audience were already widely familiar with this song. Poor Ronan Keating never breaking America).
Jeremy is no stranger to unlikely covers, and while he may have played Pomatter in Waitress, he served us his inner Jenna at these concerts to revisit his iconic rendition of, what I believe to be one of the greatest musical theatre songs ever written, ‘She Used To Be Mine’. The way Jeremy takes this song and flips it is a true testament to his genius, channelling all of the emotion and depth out of the lyrics that still managed to feel incredibly intimate and personal despite there being 2000 people in the audience. He also fulfilled a goal of performing an Adele number in London, having concluded the previous venues weren’t grand enough for this occasion. This was more than worth the wait as he delivered an utterly jawdropping version of ‘When We Were Young’ that was every bit as special as when I saw Adele sing it herself last month.
Jeremy Jordan always delivers with his concerts. Having been to his previous 2 London shows, I knew the standard was going to be incredibly high. However, I was not prepared for just how much Jeremy was going to elevate his performance from his previous shows. If in the past, he was as close to flawlessness as it can possibly get, with these performances he transcended into a whole new level of complete perfection. A phenomenal voice, a brilliantly satisfying and versatile setlist and an infectious personality that had the audience wiping away tears of laughter (moments after wiping away tears of emotion) made this a true masterclass in how to do a concert.
The real beauty of Jeremy Jordan is how personal and personable he can make a show appear, no matter how big the venue. Incredible storytelling, masses of charm and full of charisma really makes a jeremy Jordan concert a full on experience. This wasn't just the best I’ve ever seen Jeremy in concert but also one of the best concerts I have ever been to, and an undoubted theatre highlight of the year. Luckily we won’t have long to wait before Jeremy is back raising a little Hell in the West End. If you get a chance to see him in the future, make sure you take it. He will well and truly blow you away.
Moving Too Fast (The Last Five Years)
Theatre Royal Drury Lane Medley:
If I Loved You (Carousel)/On The Street Where You Live (My Fair Lady)/It Only Takes A Moment (Hello Dolly!)/Johanna (Sweeney Todd)/Why God Why (Miss Saigon)
Oh What A Beautiful Morning (Oklahoma)
Bonnie & Clyde Medley:
Bonnie/How Bout A Dance (Frances Mayli McCann)/What Was Always Good Enough For You (Duet with Frances Mayli McCann)
Too Late To Turn Back Now (Duet with Frances Mayli McCann)
When We Were Young (Adele Cover)
Preaching To The Fire (Age Of Madness)
Hardinge Garden (Age Of Madness)
Come Together (The Beatles Cover) (Age Of Madness)
Broadway Here I Come (Smash)
What You Own (Duet with Andy Mientus) (Rent) [Night 1 Only]
Wake Me Up (Avicii Cover)
The Middle (Jimmy Eat World Cover)
When You Say Nothing At All (Alison Krauss Cover)
Into The Unknown/Show Yourself (Frozen II)
Sante Fe (Newsies)
West End Medley:
You’ll Be Back (Hamilton)/Meant To be Yours (Heathers)/El Tango De Roxanne (Moulin Rouge)/Let it Go (Frozen)
She Used To Be Mine (Waitress)
Jeremy returns to London with his band Age of Madness to play Here at Outernet on November 13th. Tickets from https://www.fw-live.com/aom
Review and Photos by Daz Gale