Other than a review following the opening weekend of the tour back in February, I haven't been writing regular concert reports for My Story as I have for previous tours - not because this wonderful 2019 tour is failing to inspire me, but simply because life was getting too hectic and something had to give. But with Friday's concert in Hereford marking the exact half-way point of the tour - I thought an update might be in order! The photos included here are not from Hereford... the usual rules regarding photography and recording have prevailed at most venues on the tour, but back in May at the Concorde Club, I was able to capture a few stills for the archive and it is those I draw on here (click any to view the full Gallery).
The format of this tour may be something of a departure for Lee, but the way he delivers it is wonderfully familiar - his disarming honesty, his cheeky humour, his natural charm and his stunning voice are, as always, the beating heart of the show, but they are complemented this time by the presence of the lovely Beverley Humphreys, whose role in the show is rather reminiscent of Eamonn Andrews on This Is Your Life (for those of you old enough to remember him), though her version of the famous 'red book' is gold and glittery with 'Stay Sassy' emblazoned across its cover! Guiding Lee through 'his story' from earliest days to now, she teases out his memories, of both happy and more troubling times, and introduces contributions (on video) from some of the people who have influenced and helped him or simply travelled with him along the road. While the show is necessarily scripted to give it structure, it retains an engaging, conversational style throughout, owing much to the obviously genuine friendship they share.
Talking to Lee about how different My Story is for him, he told me he's really enjoying it but confessed that the interview-style is much more intense than his usual 'free-form chatter' (my words) and it sometimes feels like he's done two or three of his 'normal shows' by the finish! It's not surprising therefore that occasionally a clear cue for a song elicits a momentary blank look from Lee, but Beverley has become very adept at prompting the right response.
Which brings us to the music - I sometimes refer to My Story as the 'talky tour', and while there is indeed more chat, there's also plenty of music - this time woven into the very fabric of Lee's story, taking us back to his earliest performances, to pivotal moments in his career, to challenging personal times. A strutting 15-year-old Lee as Danny Zuko - discovering that being in the spotlight (literally) can have a significant impact on your dating prospects! A desperate 21-year-old Lee taking one last shot at getting both feet firmly on the ladder of a performing career - characteristically giving it everything he'd got with a perfectly selected song. To reference just two. In all, he is accompanied by his super-talented musical director, Adam Dennis.
So, Lee through the ages, different moods, different chapters in his story... but always we come back to joy. The joy he has in performing, in "making people happy", and the joy he gives as he does. It's quite an old-fashioned word 'joy', but then he's quite an old-fashioned guy, in the very best of ways. His personal values - love for family, strong work ethic, good manners and respect for his fellow humans, to name but a few - feel rarer in today's society than they should be and once were, but the invariably warm response to his occasional "it's quite cheesy, but..." intro to a simple explanation of why, for example, he always puts his daughter first, suggests they are much admired and appreciated qualities that we should all strive to embody.
I've spoken to a lot of people about this tour, and without exception the response has been positive. One or two have said it's not a show they would want to see repeatedly - wait a sec, you mean there are actually people who go more than once to the same show?! Inconceivable! (and now I'm having a Princess Bride moment) - not because they didn't enjoy it, rather that they wanted more of what they enjoyed the most... Lee's singing. And to some extent I share that feeling in that I'd like to see a return to a full-on music tour for Lee's next album (which he tells us is likely to be in late 2020!), but all the things I love about Lee are so much a part of this show that it is always a joy (there's that word again) to watch and I *always* learn something new about Lee! In Hereford, for example, we learned that Lee doesn't suffer from stage fright but nor is he immune from that "did I remember to..." panic (with me, it's usually 'did I lock the car') which on this occasion led him to stop Beverley in her tracks and beg our indulgence while he checked his flies were done up (turning his back first, of course). Only Lee...!
The My Story tour continues next weekend and on to November - full dates here - do catch it if you can. You'll laugh, and sigh, and laugh again, and maybe cry a little, but I promise you'll see and hear the very best of Lee and come out smiling.
Lee's full concert and events schedule (including past appearances) is at CONCERT & LIVE EVENTS