Glamis Castle was the magnificent setting for Lee's first Scottish concert since the West End Men's Glasgow visit in 2012 and a very welcome opportunity to hear him sing with a full orchestra - always very special. That orchestra was the Scottish Pops conducted by Simon Beck, while joining Lee on the bill were: Scottish national treasure Susan Boyle, back to headline after her guest appearance at the 2015 Prom; Broadway talent Christina Bianco, who is amongst the performers setting sail with Lee on the inaugural Stages Floating Festival in 2018; Britain's Got Talent winner Jai McDowall; and Scotland's leading soul and gospel group Soul Nation.
Making the trip by road from various points many, many miles south, four of us had arrived in the area the previous evening - quick shout out to the MacDonald Arms Hotel in Balbeggie, if you're ever there you have to try their Haggis balls... heavenly! We met up with other friends - from near and far - for lunch ahead of the main event and still more at the Castle itself.
The forecast had not been promising, with rain expected throughout the afternoon and well into the evening, but it was dry when we arrived and as we got out of the car we heard a familiar voice and a very familiar song from across the park as Lee completed his soundcheck. Joining in the 'aah aah aaahhs' with gusto, we gathered picnic stuff and waterproofs and headed for the queue to get in (no staircase this time!). As we waited we spotted a couple of tiny patches of blue sky and eventually the sun! The signs were getting better by the minute...
As we tucked into our picnics and prosecco, we were entertained by the pick of up and coming Scottish musical talent in the form of Matthew Tomlinson - a young man with a fabulous voice and, from his biog, many other strings to his bow (or guitar in his case!), award-winning Scottish Egyptian multi-instrumentalists The Ayoub Sisters - their debut album (due out in September) will be one to look out for, and finally Soul Nation, already mentioned above, who would also return during the main show.
Then, after a few words of welcome on behalf of the Earl of Strathmore from Tommy Baxter, General Manager of Glamis Castle, the evening's compere (and Event Director) Peter Ferguson welcomed Simon Beck and the Scottish Pops Orchestra to the stage, where they struck up The Carousel Waltz.
We didn't have to wait long for Lee... he was first up after the overture ("good for the nerves" he commented later!), introduced as "Holby City heart-throb and one of the country's best leading male vocalists to hit the West End and beyond". In keeping with this year's 'An Evening at the Musicals' theme, we were first treated to the title song from his most recent album, Some Enchanted Evening from 'South Pacific', followed by Dancing Through Life from the hit West End show Wicked in which he starred for ten months as Fiyero, "without the dancing tonight", though as usual, he couldn't resist a twirl or two!
He was back towards the end of the first half with Susan Boyle to sing their much-anticipated duet, All I Ask Of You from 'Phantom of the Opera', returning again after Susan's solo to close the first half with Any Dream Will Do backed by Soul Nation and much of the crowd as his choir. In the interval, it was lovely to hear so many people commenting on how wonderful Lee had been with Susan, a tender and generous duet partner with an "amazing voice".
There was more local talent in evidence from 12 year old Erin Paterson, the winner of a press competition to find an 'Annie' for the evening, her experience performing in productions for the Downfield Musical Society shone through as she sang Tomorrow - if she follows her dream of becoming an actress, her tomorrows look bright indeed!
If I have one tiny criticism of the programming, it is that with so much of Lee to enjoy in the first half, we were left with rather less in the second, though we were of course richly entertained by his fellow singers - with Christina Bianco opening the half with the vocal impressions which first brought her to the public's attention as a 'YouTube sensation', Jai McDowall giving us his BGT winning Anthem from 'Chess', more from Soul Nation and of course more too from Susan Boyle including the song that launched her career (or, in her words "got me into a lot of trouble"!) - I Dreamed a Dream from 'Les Misérables'. But my personal highlight of the whole evening was Lee's one solo contribution in the second half - a favourite from his 2017 show Up Front & Centre, in monthly residence at London's Pheasantry until November and making a one-off trip north to The PAA, Yarm (near Middlesbrough) in October - Maria from 'West Side Story'. It was simply stunning.
The rain that had held off for most of the show arrived, gently at first then with more purpose, during Soul Nation's final number and ponchos were rapidly deployed (by the audience, I hasten to add, those on stage were under cover!) but all too soon, the show came to an end with the whole cast returning to the stage to sing it out with Thank You For The Music, the audience singing it back at them with feeling, arms waving aloft. It really was a wonderful evening in the middle of a fabulous weekend - my thanks to all who made it so, on stage and off, including of course the friends with whom I shared this latest adventure, who I'd never have met but for a certain curly dude blessed with a glorious voice.
The photos here are mine - click any to view full Gallery - and keep an eye on the Glamis Prom Facebook page where they have promised to post more, along with videos, over the coming days.
Lee's full concert and events schedule (including past appearances) can be found at - CONCERTS & LIVE EVENTS
Last updated: 18 July 2017