A long, wet and windy (that's blowy rather than twisty, although on reflection it was both in places!) road led us to The Forum in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria for the first mainland date of Lee's Autumn 2013 mini UK tour. Lee was once again supported by his fabulous band, led by musical director Mason Neely on drums, with Richie Blake on bass and Steve Reid Williams on keyboards, and joined by guest Robyn Mellor, who many will remember as Princess Apricot to Lee's Jack in panto last Christmas.
Those who were lucky enough to be at Lee's intimate Pheasantry gigs in August, which served as warm-up for this tour, will be familiar with much of the setlist which is included in full on a separate page, although tonight we were also treated to an old favourite from past tours - Kiss - delivered with the perfect balance of raunch and humour and some dance moves to test the strength of his tailor's stitching!
Without giving away too many secrets for those who will be catching a later date on the tour, Lee has put together a beautifully balanced selection of material, calling mainly on his musical past - the earliest influences which drew him towards a career in theatre, the shows he has been part of and the most recent of his three albums.
My favourite moments of the evening were those where Lee was accompanied by only piano or guitar, the simplicity of the arrangements allowing his exquistely emotional delivery to captivate and enchant the audience. Hallelujah, even with a slight lyric fluff, was simply mesmerising and Luck Be A Lady, where he prowled the stage, snarling and laughing, tempting and entreating... just stunning. If I have a criticism, it was that the drums sometimes overwhelmed the vocal, but hopefully that was simply a sound balance issue that can be easily resolved at future dates.
In his chattier moments, Lee spoke again of the big TV role he has landed, though without giving away any crucial details. We can apparently expect a press release very shortly and he added that his filming commitments will delay the release of his fourth album and the major tour he had been planning for next Spring. All the more reason to catch this fabulous tour while you can, although I can't help but hope that the lure of performing live will ensure we are still able to enjoy the occasional one-off concert, even while Lee is so busy with other things.
And finally - a Barrow exclusive! First sight (and briefest sound) of Lee wielding a guitar... looking very comfortable with the instrument, he strummed a chord or two as he told a tale of asking his agent about an audition for the lead role in new West End musical, Once, a show Lee had flown to New York to see on Broadway before it opened here. "Can you play the guitar?" the immediate response, to which Lee had to confess he was still learning and the part requires him to be "fluent"... maybe next year!
Lee's full concert schedule (including past appearances) can be found at - CONCERT DATES
Last updated: 16 September 2013