You may recall that Lee was scheduled to appear at a Billy Joel Songs Unsung cabaret a couple of years ago (during the West End Men Vaudeville run) but illness prevented him taking part. Some of you will have attended that event anyway, or perhaps one of the other Songs Unsung cabarets that have been staged before or since - they are the brainchild of Brian McCann, an old friend of Lee's from Tommy tour days, have involved numerous West End performers and are always hugely entertaining.
Happily, Brian chose to celebrate his 40th birthday with a Songs Unsung cabaret at the Phoenix Artist Club on Sunday 18 October, inviting friends along to join him on the bill. With Lee amongst the first to be announced, there were many familiar faces in the audience at the tiny basement club beneath the Phoenix Theatre - and they were treated to a fabulous evening's entertainment from some supremely talented and very lovely people.
The title of the cabaret "40... 15" was also Brian's opening song of the evening, originally written about someone turning 30 in the '90s but adapted for the occasion. He continued in reflective vein with John Lennon's 'In My Life' before introducing his musical director and pianist, James Doughty, and inviting his first guest of the evening to the stage.
I won't give you a blow by blow account, but have tried to put the setlist together so you can see how it all went down... apologies for any errors, there were lots of songs that were new to me (which is one of the things I love most about these evenings). The voices were, without exception, incredible and the first half - featuring Adam Linstead, Sabrina Aloueche and Rebecca Scott - drew to a close all too quickly.
The longer second half was opened by Brian with a haunting rendition of 'Music of the Night'. Then one more song, from Sabrina Aloueche recalling her We Will Rock You days with 'Somebody To Love', and it was Lee's turn. Brian first told of the time long ago when he asked Lee's advice about auditioning for a TV casting show, which Lee selflessly volunteered to scope out on his behalf... when the laughter faded Brian joined Lee in a beautiful duet version of the Billy Joel ballad 'Lullabye' which features in Lee's current tour before leaving him to sing 'Feeling Good' and 'All of Me'. Lee was in exceptionally good vocal company and all are equally deserving of high praise, but I did enjoy reading tweets like this one:
It is also worth checking out photos and short video clips from the evening on Paul Dehany's twitter feed - I hope he won't mind me including one photo here (left) of Lee and Sabrina.
More delights followed from the remaining guests - Ben Carruthers, Anton Stephans and Rakesh Boury, with James Doughty also managing to get in on the vocals after an evening-long running joke - before Brian brought the evening to a close with a thoughtful 'It All Fades Away' and a fabulous encore (helped by the company!) of 'Bridge Over Troubled Waters'. It was a completely brilliant evening - a perfect storm of talent and fun and love for the man who put it all together. So, I will close by wishing Brian a final and by now rather belated happy birthday and hope that he's started a trend for birthday cabarets amongst the brightest and the best the West End has to offer!
Lee's full concert schedule (including past appearances) can be found at - CONCERT DATES
Last updated: 19 October 2015