The West End Men's short summer tour came to an end on Guernsey with two concerts played to packed houses at St Peter Port's Beau Sejour Leisure Centre on 28th and 29th July.
The supremely talented line-up of Lee Mead, Matt Rawle and Stephen Rahman-Hughes, with special guest Kerry Ellis, the clever staging and well-chosen material (minor variations from Guildford which I'll touch on below) were received with huge enthusiasm by the Guernsey audiences. The atmosphere on both nights was fantastic, but especially so on the Sunday, when there was a real 'end of term' feel to the show, an energy which spread from cast to audience, producing a really amazing vibe.
Being amongst those who were disappointed that 'Fix You' was missing from the set in Guildford, I was delighted that it made a return in Guernsey, in place of 'Better' (which I also love, but if I have to choose, then 'Fix You' edges it - Lee sings it so very beautifully). There was also a surprise addition to close the first half - a new arrangement of the song for which Lee is best remembered from TV series 'Any Dream Will Do' - 'Paint It Black'. For me, there is no arrangement of this song that could eclipse Lee's first live performance of it - but this one, for three voices at the top of their form, had its own magic and the crowd loved it!
I haven't talked much in previous reports of the format of the show, but you will recall I was surprised and delighted from the start, and still am each time I see it, by the dynamic design of both sound and staging. The Men enter from left and right, up stage and down, sometimes you hear them before you see them ... songs blend one to another, arrangements are fresh - three voices where one is expected, tempo or even genre shifts within songs, the band playing far more than a supporting role ... musical theatre anthems mingle with lesser known pieces, contemporary pop with jazz standards ... all these elements serve to keep the audience intrigued, engaged and wanting more!
The local choir, formed especially for these two concerts, were fabulous, making their first appearance for 'Bui Doi', which again moved me to tears. I must also pay tribute to the band - Musical Director Will Stuart on piano, Leon Rossiter on guitar, Jo Nichols on bass, James Turner on drums and percussion and Dave Bishop on flute, saxophone and occasional clarinet - such a talented group of musicians.
I was very happy, after the show, to have an opportunity to say a heart-felt thank you to the men, their lady and most of the band. I also spoke briefly to producers, James Milton and Paul Morrissey, who are thrilled with how well the show has been received and assured me they are working hard to finalise the details of additional autumn dates including, they hope, two Scottish concerts. They will announce the details as soon as they can.
Click for the full set-list, with credits and a wee bonus, and I include below a few scans from the programme (cover above).
Lee's full concert schedule (including past appearances) can be found at - CONCERT DATES
Last updated: 25 May 2015