Saturday, September 7, 2013
Album Review: AARON TVEIT - THE RADIO IN MY HEAD (LIVE AT 54 BELOW)
To many, he's the heartthrob of the Great White Way, climbing to fame after he thrilled audiences in the emotionally exhausting rock musical Next to Normal... but he really became known when he appeared as Enjolras in the film adaptation of Les Miserables. With boyish good looks, a killer charm, and a tenor voice you could listen to endlessly, people love him... and it's not hard to see why.
This album, a record of Tveit's concert at Broadway's popular cabaret nightclub 54 Below, just happened to be released at the exact same time as Laura Benanti's 54 Below album, both produced by the wonderful Broadway Records ( I review Benanti's album here). And with Ms. Benanti's stunning and brilliantly fun recording getting so much buzz, I truly hope Tveit's album gets just as much.
What stuck out to me as the most exciting thing about this album is the killer set-list. Seriously, it's awesome. You've got some classic and contemporary musical theatre, soaring rock anthems, peppy pop songs, and some beautiful ballads, all by composers and music artists like Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Kerrigan-Lowdermilk, Jonathan Larson, Adam Guettel, Jason Robert Brown, Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel... and even Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift. Yes, really. If this doesn't seriously excite the young generation of musical theatre and pop lovers, I don't know what will.
Tveit has a genuine and charming presence in concert, letting his lovely sense of humour and his down-to-earth personality shine through. While a lot of Broadway performers may seem forced or "act-y" in their cabarets and concerts, the same simply doesn't go for Mr. Tveit. His song selection is as much for us as it is for him... a lot of the pieces are ones that are often requested by fans and are known to be audience favourites. And if he performs a song that's "just for him," he shamefully yet humorously admits it.
The album starts off with a huge bang with I'm Alive from Next to Normal, a high belting rock power anthem that Tveit knocks out of the park, setting the bar for the rest of the evening. Luckily, the rest of the material is of as high, if not higher, quality than the electrifying opener. His performance of One Song Glory from RENT is deeply felt and chill-inducing, and you'll immediately be taken in by the exuberance of Aaron's tongue-in-cheek rendition of Taylor Swift's 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together'. Other highlights include the gorgeously lyrical mash-up of There's a World from Next to Normal and Hero and Leander from Adam Guettel's song cycle Myths and Hymns, as well as a wonderfully soulful performance of Billy Joel's 'She's Always a Woman'. Tveit is in fine voice throughout the album, his colourful and pingy tenor very adaptable between classic and contemporary pieces.
Fans of Aaron Tveit are going to love this album. And even if you're not in Tveit's fan club, you'll find this to be an excellent recording of music by the great contemporary Broadway composers and pop/rock artists sung damn near perfectly by one of musical theatre's biggest assets. This album, along with Laura Benanti's same-day release, is a must have.