Back in the Spring, after duetting with Lee on the first day of his 2017 Up Front & Centre residency at the Pheasantry, Rhydian revealed in one of his regular vlogs that Lee would be returning the favour by singing to do his set at a gig in Rhydian's home village of Sennybridge (near Brecon) on the weekend of the annual Sennybridge Show. Rhydian's Dad is the Show President for 2017, so the Sunday evening show the following day is an event very close to his heart.
Much like Lee's last 'long-haul' show up at Glamis in July, the weather turned from glorious the day before to decidedly soggy... at least this time we would be under canvas! Rather a lot of canvas as it turned out - a long, rather narrow tent (marquee if you insist) which had the previous day held the Craft and Horticulture exhibits. Being well-trained in the art of the queue, we arrived early and took up position outside the entrance as a familiar voice rang out from within... sound-check. Good timing!
The show's start was slightly delayed to allow people stuck in a local traffic snarl up to arrive, Rhydian's mum on the mic keeping us informed! We learned later from Rhydian that unfortunately BBC Radio presenter, Chris Needs, who was due to compere, was unwell so once things got underway mic duties were left largely to the artists themselves, other than a speech of thanks to all involved in putting the wider show together from one of the organisers (sorry, I didn't catch his name).
With everyone finally in their seats, the show was opened by Sorela - three sisters from Aberystwyth who sing acapella close harmony, mostly in Welsh - the tone and blend of their voices is absolutely beautiful and while some of their songs lost a little in the non-translation for the English bods in the audience, they were a real joy to listen to - check them out on YouTube!
Rhydian was up next, in a truly astonishing silver sequin suit - singing a mix of old favourites and songs from his new album, The Long Road, due out later this year, in his inimitable full-on style. There was no doubting he was 'at home', relishing the opportunity to perform for friends and family, as well as his wider 'fan family'.
Following a very warm introduction from Rhydian and huge cheers from the audience, Lee came on stage saying how he felt he needed to relax into things a little, it not being his show... any excuse for a natter! After a few words on the 'room' and, naturally, the food (he was looking forward to sampling the lamb later) he took us back nearly ten years to the day he first met Rhyd...
It was at Andrew Lloyd Webber's 60th birthday bash in Hyde Park, when they were both on the bill... Lee was waiting backstage to perform and there was this guy in the wings with bleached blond hair, very intense, being given a wide berth by most of the other artists. Not Lee however, he was intrigued, and went over to introduce himself, bravely (given his audience) mimicking Rhyd's Welsh-accented reply! They've been friends ever since. Lee said, with characteristic honesty, that Rhyd has been there for him many times so he didn't think twice about coming to Wales to sing. Plus his great-grandfather was Welsh and he lived in Cardiff for two years filming Casualty so he feels a little bit Welsh!
He started with a little number by Nina Simone, recorded more recently by Michael Bublé, but made totally Lee's own... Feeling Good. It was outrageously good. You may want to click here ;-) I'm so very glad this track made the album, but live it's something else! When the cheers finally faded, Lee chatted a bit more, checking in with the people at the back - "are you OK?" ... pause ... (very faintly) "yeaaaaahhh!" "Blimey, you're in Cardiff!" - then gave us all of him... All of Me, that is. Rhyd said after he'd left the stage that Lee was brewing a cold - true you could hear the rasp in his speaking voice, and the slightest husk in his singing voice that simply gave it an added dimension, but his vocal power was not remotely diminished. There, in a tent in a field in the middle of nowhere, he sang as well as, in some places better than, I have ever heard him sing.
After more from Rhydian and Sorela, Lee returned to the stage, still talking about the lamb, and asked if anyone had seen him in Joseph! He offered us a number from the show, minus the loincloth (though he has since, very rashly, suggested he may sport it at his Christmas show if it's a sell out... get booking people!) To end the half, Rhyd joined him for a duet of Anthem. I was somewhat startled to discover when I got back from the usual interval visit (VERY posh portaloos!) that it was five to ten, and we still had the second half to go! I should say, while I didn't take many photos - I was too busy enjoying the view - clicking on any of images on this page will take you to the full GALLERY where you'll find a few more.
Lee's second half set came in a single block, starting with Dancing Through Life complete with the usual half-suppressed dance steps as he sang, and a few less restrained moves when he'd finished. Strictly was mentioned - he got scared and turned it down a number of years ago but thinks now that he might like to have a go at it one day - then, in a classic Meady tangent-hop, he told us that Rhydian had mentioned a hot tub after the show, with a cup of tea and a bit of Victoria sponge cake. That's quite an image he conjures up! He checked in again with the back "still there? still awake?" and deftly plugged his Christmas show (selling FAST, so if you're thinking of going, don't think too long - just book!). Then it was time for his last two songs, both firm favourites with his fans. First, from Les Mis, Bring Him Home and finally, with a mini Chris Martin story as intro, Fix You.
There was more from Sorela - though to be honest, I can't entirely remember what came when - and from Rhydian, who had during the evening swapped the silver sequins for a rather natty checked number, then for red sequins and finally for a blue sequinned jacket and black leather trousers - having seen Lee in gold lame as Aladdin in Brum, I'm glad his personal style runs more to the understated, I'm not sure he could carry off the sequinned trousers in quite the same way his friend does, especially not while singing Bring Him Home... ;-) All too soon (if you can say that after a concert lasting well over three hours!) it was time for the finale, Rhydian singing it out with David Bowie's Heroes, inviting Sorela and Lee on stage to join him for the final play out. But even that wasn't the end - we were in Wales after all and there was an anthem to sing. I knew going to school in Wales would serve me well one day, all together now "Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi..."!
It really was the most wonderful evening and, as loud as the cheers were when Lee first took the stage, they were as nothing to the ovation he received after his final number - new fans made for sure. But it was Rhydian's night and he did his Dad proud, a fitting end to what had by all accounts been a first-class Sennybridge Show. Diolch yn fawr, thank you, to Rhydian, Rhydian's Dad, everyone whose hard work helped made the show such a succcess and to Sennybridge itself for the warm welcome. And the lamb!
Lee's full concert and events schedule (including past appearances) is at CONCERTS & LIVE EVENTS
Last updated: 8 September 2017