After singing at last year's 1000 Voice Choir Music of the Movies concert presented by Hybu, Lee returned to co-host this year's event - Don't Stop Us Now! - joined on the bill by friend and co-star from last year's Palladium, and winner of America's Got Talent, panto, Paul Zerdin.
Hybu is a Welsh charity working with young people - Hybu is also a Welsh verb meaning 'to promote', 'to encourage' or 'to support' which is fair summary of the work they do with those young people.
The orchestra was under the baton of musical director, Mason Neeley, a very familiar figure to those of Lee's fans who had made the trip to Cardiff, who may also have recognised Stephen Reid Williams on keyboards and Richie Blake on Bass!
The youth choirs, Junior and Senior, were made up of singers from 21 primary schoools and two senior schools from across the region and delighted a very partisan audience consisting largely of their nearest and dearest with songs including Bare Necessities, Bridge Over Troubled Water, True Colours and Count On Me, culminating in the show's title song Don't Stop Us Now. One of my favourite moments was a performance of the Hallelujah Chorus which has to be seen to be fully appreciated - happily you can see it being performed at the 2015 concert on YouTube. There was also a special guest appearance from Angelicus Celtis, who appeared on Britain's Got Talent earlier in the year, and lively accompaniment to a couple of the choir numbers from the Caerphilly Percussion Ensemble.
Paul Zerdin introduced Sam to the crowd in the first half and while some of the material was easily recognised by anyone who saw Cinderella at the Palladium last Christmas, there was a little new material too, and it was all hugely well-received in the hall. He returned in the second half without Sam, calling on two unsuspecting audience members - the long-suffering 'Ugly Sheridan' and his partner, Nora - to help him out... they were both absolute stars!
And there was Lee... taking his co-hosting duties in his stride (a long and brisk stride required to cover the considerable hike from the dressing room to centre stage!), chatting with ease to performers and guests and even exploring his capacity to speak Welsh... though hopefully he's now forgotten how to say the phrase he was coached into repeating: "it's time to cut the curls"! And though I wasn't the target audience for the heavily scripted interlude featuring Pudsey, a dalek, various other miscellaneous aliens and a brace of look-alike Doctors, the children loved it!
But of course he did more than simply introduce his fellow guests... he sang too. Naturally. And beautifully.
His first half number came as no surprise after we'd had a sneak preview of it from rehearsals earlier. It's been a while since I've heard him sing Your Song from his third album Love Songs and it was a subtly different performance of it, more powereful somehow. The phrase that came to my mind was 'more grown up' but I'm not sure that will be in any way meaningful to you! He returned towards the end of the second half to sing Feeling Good (from his latest album Some Enchanted Evening) and Anthem (again from Love Songs) and pretty much blew the roof off the arena. I loved the whoops and cheers of appreciation that filled the pause immediately following that long, sustained "feeeeeeeling" towards the end of the first, and hearing the second full-belt in that space was simply stunning. If the reactions of those around us is anything to go by, he has rather a lot of new fans now!
Finally, my huge thanks to all involved for their hard work in putting together such a fabulous show, and to Hybu for permission to share MLA Photography's wonderful photos here - click on any to view the full Gallery. A DVD of the evening is being produced - they were taking orders at the event and I'm sure it will be also available to order via the Hybu website in due course (it was last year).
Lee's full concert and events schedule (including past appearances) can be found at - CONCERT & LIVE EVENTS
Last updated: 6 July 2017