For this, the final March date of Lee's wonderful Some Enchanted Evening tour, we found ourselves in Poole (one day I'll have to do a tally of coastal/island versus inland venues, I sense a definite leaning towards the sea!) and the Lighthouse Arts Centre. This modern venue was a lovely addition to the Meady tour list - although it wasn't a first visit for him, having been there 12 years previously as Brother Levi in the UK tour of Joseph, earning an extra £15 a week for doubling up as the Pharaoh!
We knew in advance (from Lee's tweet from the train on the way down) that his guest was once again the lovely Landi Oshinowo and the band also remained unchanged from the past two concerts - musical director Mason Neely on drums, acoustic guitar and occasional ukulele, Richie Blake on bass guitar, John Pearce on fiddle and Michael Riley on piano. The depth of sound created by this small group of supremely talented musicians is a source of joy.
My pondering last time out about the possible future Chitty influence was answered sooner than expected as Lee told us of his first two days in rehearsals, giving us a brief (and, to my eyes, highly impressive) demo of what he'd learned so far of the relentlessly high-energy 'Me Ole Bamboo' - with Stephen Mear choreographing, it's sure to be fantastic and given Lee's oft-voiced protestation that he's 'no dancer' it was lovely to see Stephen's vote of approval on Twitter a couple of days later...
@leemeadofficial You looked great. I had a sneaky peak before I came in x— Stephen Mear (@StephenMear) March 25, 2016
The set list from Lee's perspective was largely as in Kettering, though the lilting 'Lullabye' was omitted, with Landi adding a little variety on this occasion with a sublime Aretha-influenced version of Carole King's 'Natural Woman' - a real highlight. Their friendship was clear in the banter before their duet of 'Almost Like Being In Love', with Landi remembering her recent panto role as "an easy job" having just two costumes "one big, the other bigger" and occasional entrances mainly declaiming "the blades of doom"!
Thanks to Lee himself for his tweeted pre-show photo, left. My memories of the evening include the post-interval discussion of 'wine ice cream' ... I'm delighted to discover it does in fact exist, made in New York since 2006, and would ask any UK distributors, particularly those supplying the theatre market, to look into importing it (it ships to the Netherlands, Poland and Ukraine, surely there's a market for it here!).
This last concert for over six months until the main tour in October rounded off the March dates on a real high. Although his Chitty rehearsal exertions, and perhaps one of the many colds that are doing the rounds, had left Lee with a slight rasp to his voice, his performance was outstanding. He might have been forgiven for avoiding the vocal challenge of Bring Him Home, in particular, but instead he used that rawness to give us one of the most exquisitely emotional performances of it I've seen.
I am excited beyond words to see Lee back on stage in a lead role - in my view he is perfectly cast as Caractacus Potts and if you want to see him in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang you should book SOON as tickets are already limited at many performances throughout the run (4 May to 18 September). But as excited as I am, I will miss these concerts until their return in October immensely, they have truly been enchanted evenings.
As always, I include a full setlist for those who like to read the small print.
Lee's full concert schedule (including past appearances) can be found at - CONCERT DATES
First published: 27 March 2016