LEE MEAD .. SOME ENCHANTED EVENING
A last minute change of line-up brought added excitement ahead of the fourth date on Lee's fabulous new Some Enchanted Evening tour, as a prior engagement for delightful regular guest, Amanda Henderson, meant a one-off return for the irrepressible and super-talented Stephen Rahman-Hughes. Those who have followed Lee's career in recent years will know that he and Steve first met as founder members of The West End Men and have performed together many times since as guests at each other's gigs. They are a great double act and I'm so pleased they have decided to take things one stage further and develop a new show Steve and Lee - Both Sides Now with three concerts later this year.
But back to Camberley... Lee last visited as part of a short autumn tour in 2013, when he played to a full house, and it wasn't far off the same on Saturday, with the lively audience very happy to be enchanted by Lee as he introduced them to the golden era of the Hollywood musical. The time and care taken by Lee and his musical director, Mason Neely, in selecting the songs for this tour, and the album which follows, is evident - each has a personal resonance for Lee in one way or another, indeed he said on Saturday that he'd wanted to find songs "which are honest to me and reflect who I am". The connection he feels to the material is, I'm sure, an essential element in his trademark delivery - finding the truth of the lyric and sharing it from the heart.
And he looked mighty fine too... my thanks to Anne Stern for this lovely photo (left).
A new guest brought new songs - 'Misty' and 'My Funny Valentine' in the first half and 'Night and Day' in the second, though there was one song choice of Amanda's that remained, giving us a rarely-heard male vocal of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' - all beautifully sung by Steve. And it would be a crime for these two to share a bill and not share the lyrics of 'Luck Be A Lady' - happily they thought so too and closed the first half with it in fine, fine style.
Perhaps it was Steve's influence that had Lee channeling the dance moves of Gene Kelly rather more than usual during the title number from 'Singin' in the Rain' (a role, incidentally, that he was approached to play on the UK tour a few years back, but unsurprisingly nine months' dance training and a year on the road didn't appeal to the relatively new daddy). Methinks the Meady doth protest too much with his oft-repeated claims that he's no dancer! Lee also surprised us with 'Close Every Door', not previously heard on this tour.
For those who like to read the fine print, I include a full setlist, with notes of the musical films in which the songs first appeared.
Finally, thanks must go, as always, to Lee's fabulous band - led by Mason on drums, guitar and occasional ukulele, this time out it comprised Ashley Long on bass, Rhys Taylor on clarinet and sax, with a return from Edinburgh Fringe duties for Michael Riley on piano. Mason's wonderful arrangements, and this superb group of musicians' delivery of them, are a hugely important element in this truly enchanting evening.
There are only six dates left on the tour, including the much-anticipated Christmas finale at London's Garrick Theatre on 6 December. Lee's new album (due for release in February 2016 but available for pre-order now!) will include some of these wonderful songs but others, including the incredible 'Feeling Good', don't make the final cut. So... if you want to hear it all, you'll have to see it live! There are only a handful of tickets left [more just released, 7 Sep 2015] for the next gig in Bury St Edmunds, a few more for Winchester and Lichfield in November and a few more still for the further-flung October dates in Barnstaple and Yeovil - if you can feasibly get to any of them, do... I promise you will NOT be disappointed!
Remaining tour dates and Lee's full concert schedule (including past appearances) can be found at - CONCERT DATES
Last updated: 7 September 2015