Collabro talk ahead of Birmingham show
Back in the day, Jamie Lambert used to drive past the Royal Albert Hall and the London Palladium and dream. He was working part-time in the finance department of Barts Health NHS Trust, in London, and looking for a break.
And while he hoped he might one day sing at such incredible venues or enjoy chart success, he realised it wasn’t sensible to bank on that.
And then his life changed.
He became friends with Matt Pagan and the two of them used social media to find three other singers to complete the Collabro line-up. They gigged at a pub near London Bridge and decided to audition for Britain’s Got Talent, figuring they had nothing to lose.
A month after forming, they found themselves singing for Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams. Their rendition of Stars, from Les Miserables, earned them a standing ovation.
Four months later, they appeared on BGT’s live final – and won by a landslide with more than a quarter of the vote. Things have never been the same since. They signed a million pound record deal and their debut album went to number one. They headlined the London Palladium and sold 50,000 tickets for their tour, as well as joining Cliff Richard on his major headline tour of the UK.
Jamie says it’s been a whirlwind. “It’s been fabulous. I loved working at Barts but Collabro has changed my life dramatically and sometimes it’s a bit weird to drive past where I used to work. It’s been four years now and we’ve just announced the fourth major tour and fourth album.”
That tour will visit Birmingham’s Symphony Hall on April 15 and Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre on April 16 next year – before they return to the Albert Hall a few days later.
Prior to that, they’ll play Telford’s The Place In The Park Festival on August 16 and then support Barry Manilow at Birmingham’s Arena on September 4. It’s a busy old year.
“We have a very dedicated fan base and we’re gigging throughout the year. The people who follow us feel very much like fans for life; it’s almost like a family. The fans are very much valued.
“From our perspective, we hope to keep going for a long time. We each have our own little bits outside the band and do separate pantos but then we get back together to do these epic 50-date tours.”
Jamie keeps his feet on the ground and doesn’t forget how fortunate the band are. One minute he was working in the NHS – within a month or so he was on TV for the start of an incredible ride.
“We are privileged to have been going for four years. Last year we released our own album and it still got into the top 10 and when it comes to touring we’re doing more tickets than ever before. We’re having to look forward for about a-year-and-a-half.” Jamie has mixed feelings about Britain’s Got Talent. Much of it was surreal as the band found themselves becoming an overnight success. Other bits were entirely forgettable.
“The truth about BGT is that a lot of it was awful. It’s sort of like anything that’s incredible, there’s always a terrible side. It was almost like getting into a new relationship where everything’s a crazy and a buzz but also mad. There was a downside and you have to remember that this is a crazy and competitive industry.
“To go from playing in a pub to being in front of 12 million and to go from 300 Twitter followers to 100,000 was remarkable. We went from zero to 100 in six weeks. We were quite lucky that a couple of us were business-minded. We weren’t teens and we weren’t too star struck. But it’s so easy to get caught up in the madness of it. I’m just grateful that we’ve lived through that. These days, it’s much better. We control everything and work together well. It’s been two years as a four and we get on so well. The system works, it’s like a well-oiled machine.”
Though Collabro emerged from the world of TV, they are happiest when they’re in theatres. Playing to a live audience gives them the greatest buzz of all, which is why they undertake such gargantuan tours.
“While TV is great, we love that, we also enjoy performing live, probably even more. That’s why the next tour is so coo.”
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