Lee's concert at the stunning Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff on Saturday 12 March marked the end of a tour which started back in Southend on 23 May last year. His first solo tour, originally limited to just five or six dates scattered through 2010 to fit in with his commitments to Wicked, took on a life of its own and, as he told me when we spoke briefly after Saturday's concert, far exceeded even Lee's own expectations of where it would lead.
This review inevitably has something of the feel of an 'end of term report' about it, but while my own experiences in that area were mostly of the 'if only she applied herself' variety, the same can most definitely NOT be said of Mr Mead. The energy and commitment he gives to every aspect of his professional life, his constant desire to learn and improve, his determination to give the audience the very best he can give ... every time, means that those who have travelled with him on the long and winding road from Southend to Cardiff have seen an already supremely talented performer grow in stature and confidence with every concert, developing a natural rapport with his audience, a close bond with the fabulous group of musicians who have supported him along the way and a total command of the stage.
There have been many highlights - defining moments in my own memories of the tour - a spontaneous Q&A session in Leeds, debuts of 'One' in Buxton and 'Seven Nation Army' at The Coliseum, 'Holding On To Letting Go' in Aylesbury, Lee's 'Chestnuts' in Northampton, 'Jesus Christ Superstar' in Birmingham, 'Kiss' in Southampton ... I could go on - to learn why these moments were special and for more detailed thoughts, and sometimes photos, from the individual concerts, just follow the links from the tour page.
So ten months on, with eighteen dates and some four thousand miles behind them, Lee Mead and his musicians, and the lovely Niamh Perry who had supported him at all but six of the gigs, rolled into Cardiff for the nineteenth and, some might say, the best of all. The man who bounded on stage to the throbbing drumbeat of 'Paint It Black', to thunderous applause, clearly intended to savour every moment - and his audience were no different. There was a playfulness along with the passion, a different emotional resonance to some of the numbers, a genuine appreciation of where his life (not to mention his hard work and talent) has taken him, but above all a joy in performing that shone from the stage.
The band (with a couple of new faces in the line-up on this occasion) were also in playful mood - I wasn't alone in noticing the occasional children's TV theme blending with the more familiar tones of Lee's setlist ... apart from the Vision On 'incidental music' while Lee took a quick drink, Grange Hill and Blue Peter were also heard, though more subtly hidden! Did anyone notice any more?
Of course Cardiff also marked the end of the road, for now at least, for Niamh's collaboration with Lee and, to my ears, she had never performed better than she did on Saturday - her beautiful cover of Bob Dylan's 'Make You Feel My Love' bringing a tear to many an eye.
I have no photographs from Cardiff - it was an evening I wanted to enjoy without distraction - but I have, as usual, detailed the full setlist, including band credits, and one or two extras you might enjoy!
For me, Southend was special because it was the long-awaited first concert ... every song a discovery, Lee's easy manner in the 'talky bits' a revelation ... Cardiff was special not only because it was the last, but because it showed in every note and word what a stunning live performer Lee now is, leaving me somewhat bereft when it ended but filled with excitement for what is still to come.
What a man, what a year, what a lot to look forward to!
Lee's full concert schedule (including past appearances) can be found at - CONCERT DATES
Last updated: 14 November 2014