LEE MEAD .. SOME ENCHANTED EVENING
After the delicious intimacy of the recent album launch gigs at London's Pheasantry, a return to theatre format for Lee's superb Some Enchanted Evening tour brought its own rewards - for Lee, there was room to dance... to move or to choose to focus that energy in stillness... to own his material and his stage in a way that is simply not possible in a few square feet of space. It is here that you really see the performer he has become in the near decade since winning 'Any Dream Will Do' - he can swagger with the best of them when called for, but for me it is his stillness that has always had the most power, allowing the song and his voice to hold the audience spellbound.
There was room too for the full band, heralding the return of two well-known faces - on bass, Richie Blake (for whom the gig could not have been more local, being just four minutes walk from home!) and on piano, the youngest member of the band, Michael 'Mickey Blue' Riley - alongside Lee's long-time musical director Mason Neeley (re-united here with his full drum kit) and John Pearce, whose fiddle, as at the Pheasantry, brought a delightful dimension to the sound that perfectly complements this material.
Another familiar and very welcome face joined Lee on the bill for this opening concert of the 2016 tour, though her professional commitments will sadly prevent her being a regular fixture - Lee's former Casualty co-star and good friend, Amanda Henderson, made the trip from Cardiff to help set the tour on the road in great style.
My intention is to keep these reports fairly brief, as concert followed concert in quick succession and I am, in any case, writing some time after the events themselves - there are only so many ways to say how wonderful I find this tour, in both its content and, more particularly, its delivery by a man at the top of his game, so I will focus instead on the unique aspects of each concert and hope they serve to remind those who were there of a special evening and give a flavour of it to those who were not.
Lee continued his habit of mixing things up a little set-wise, keeping the evening fresh both for himself and the band (and for any regulars who happened to be there!)... on this occasion there was the excitement of a 'premier' performance of the only album track yet to be heard live - 'By Myself' - he introduced it, as he does with so many of the songs he chooses to sing, by explaining its personal relevance to him and, with its message of moving on with acceptance and purpose, it seems to represent the path to 'Feeling Good' in his personal journey. He certainly sings it with a passion that indicates just how strongly it resonates for him and seeing him perform it live has changed the way I now hear it on the album, for the better I might add.
Other memories, amid an evening of pure joy, were 'Close Every Door' for which I can find only one word... wow! and Lee's rosy cheeks (immortalised in Amanda's interval tweet photo, left) which bizzarely left me humming 'Merano' from Chess for the next few days ("Rosy-cheeked Merano, Flourishing to a fault"). Incidentally, Lee and Amanda's laughter-filled 'Get Happy/Happy Days' duet was a wonderful testament to their close friendship as well as their vocal talents.
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