Lee Mead .. Timeline
Newtown Concert .. 20 September 2014
The second of three Welsh dates on Lee's 2014 tour
took him to Newtown, nestled amid the beautiful rolling, sheep-nibbled hills of mid-Wales. Its theatre, The Hafren
, is a modern venue on the outskirts of the town, with a wonderfully intimate feel and a very appreciative and highly-vocal crowd.
Lee was of course backed by his supremely talented band, again with a slightly revised line-up, led by Lee's long-time musical director and record producer:
- Mason Neely, on drums and acoustic guitar, with
- Richie Blake (returning to the line-up after missing the August dates) on bass, and
- Michael Riley on piano (replacing Will Stuart at this and possibly further dates).
I deliberately mention 'record producer' as Lee made a point of telling the audience that he and Mason were due in the studio next week to start recording his next album, due for release in the spring of 2015. I have written before of the intended theme for Lee's fourth album but not the rationale for it that he has talked about in his concerts this year... asked repeatedly over the years since 'Any Dream Will Do' why he has not recorded a musical theatre album, he cites previous examples of the genre, from John Barrowman, Michaels Ball and Crawford and many others, adding that he has no wish to add to the catalogue unless he can do something a little different. So he is drawing on the music that inspired his own love of musical theatre during a childhood when, with family trips to the West End a rare treat, he avidly watched the great Hollywood musical films on TV. Films that gave us such classics as 'Singin' In The Rain', 'Some Enchanted Evening' from South Pacific and 'Luck Be A Lady' from Guys and Dolls, all of which are featured in his current tour set. Hearing what Lee does with these numbers fills me with excitement for the album and for the tour that is being planned to accompany it.
Also featured were not one, but two special guests, both of whom have joined him at some of the earlier dates on the tour:
- Keith Jack, runner-up to Lee in 'Any Dream Will Do' with whom he has remained good friends, and
- his current Casualty colleague, playing Nurse Robyn in the BBC drama, Amanda Henderson.
It was a real treat to hear not just the now-familiar Wicked duet 'As Long As You're Mine' from Amanda and Lee, but also Amanda's beautiful and powerful solo - 'As Long As He Needs Me' from Oliver. Amanda has recently been announced as Lee's special guest for the final Welsh date of the tour in Aberystwyth
on 2 November, when I hope we will hear even more of her gorgeous voice. I'm trying to think if there are any more 'As Long As...' songs she could add to her set? ;-)
But what of the man who had drawn people together from far and wide? My party for the concert included one friend who has seen Lee live many times and another who was at her first concert having not seen him since Joseph. The first thought that "last night was by far the best I have heard him sing since the very beginning of this journey" while the second could only be described in the aftermath of this brilliant evening as totally 'Mead-mushed', a state familiar to Lee's long-term fans in which they generally wear a beaming grin and slightly dazed expression and are rendered incapable of rational conversation (particularly with the man himself if lucky enough to catch a moment with him at Stage Door)!
My own personal highlights were numerous, but if you twisted my arm then I would narrow that down to 'Hallelujah' and 'Luck Be A Lady' from the first half, which show two contrasting aspects of Lee's performance that I find utterly compelling - his stillness, which leaves him no hiding place as his voice and the lyric become the audience's only focus, and his total command of the stage - and 'Bring Him Home' from the second, which was simply stunning.
As always, I include the full setlist
and also share a few photos below, with my ever-grateful thanks to the lovely Anne Stern:
Lee's full concert schedule (including past appearances) can be found at - CONCERT DATES
Last updated: 21 September 2014