It's been a while since the West End Men's last outing in Guernsey in July, but the wait was worth it - with a new line-up and new material alongside the best of the previous setlist, the Men took to the stage at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow last night and rocked it!
Lee and Stephen Rahman-Hughes are joined for this series of concerts by Ramin Karimloo, who has starred in many West End shows but is perhaps best known for his stints as the Phantom in both the brilliant original and in Love Never Dies, as well as in the 25th anniversary concert performances at the Royal Albert Hall. Also joining the line-up is Ashleigh Gray - I'm delighted finally to have heard her sing Defying Gravity, which she does so beautifully.
Changes too in the fabulous band, still led by Musical Director, Will Stuart on piano, with Jo Nichols on bass guitar/double bass, these two now joined by Toby Drummond on drums/percussion, Howard McGill on flute/saxophone and Tommy Emmerton on guitar. There's a real sense of enjoyment amongst the company, both singers and musicians, which transmits to the audience who, on this November night in Glasgow, needed very little encouragement to have a thoroughly good time!
I will try to avoid too many spoilers for those who are going to the concerts in Gateshead and Leicester, but I have included a full setlist on a separate page. I will say, however, that one of the things I love most about the selection of songs made for these shows is that they avoid the obvious - both by including lesser known musical theatre numbers in the setlist and through new and sometimes surprising arrangements of much-loved favourites.
The camaraderie between the Men (and their Lady) is plain and their voices blend beautifully. While their solo performances were excellent, the real 'goosebump' moments for me came when the Men's voices were joined - the power of those three voices, the vocal sparring, the delicious harmonies, were both exciting and, on occasions, intensely moving. Special word must go to the superb singers from Glasgow Academy Musical Theatre Arts (GAMTA) who joined the Men for the final few numbers, including my favourite of the show - 'Bui Doi'.
My thanks to @designforlive for permission to include the photo (left).
The sound balance in the first half was rather too heavily in favour of the band, but was greatly improved in the second half (and will hopefully stay that way). Simple but effective staging lends fluidity while the lighting design brings drama to a production that both surprises and delights on every level - those of you who read my reports of the earlier concerts may recall me using those very words before ... I am very happy that, for me at least, neither the surprise nor the delight has diminished.
Grateful thanks also to Cathy from www.jonathanansell.com who allowed me to reproduce these gorgeous photos originally posted on their forum, where you will find more photos and video clips, and to the lovely Abs for the final photo below.
Lee's full concert schedule (including past appearances) can be found at - CONCERT DATES
Last updated: 25 May 2015