As the end of this wonderful 2014 tour draws ever nearer, Lee and his guests treated the audience at High Wycombe's Swan Theatre to a fabulous evening's entertainment. Returning to a stage he last trod in Bill Kenwright's touring production of Joseph back in 2004/05, Lee's brief burst of song as the Elvis-inspired Pharaoh he played then made me wish I'd seen him in that role, as some lucky people in the audience evidently had!
The theatre is large, but the seating embraces the stage in a way that preserves some of the intimacy enjoyed at earlier, smaller venues. The lighting was minimal, the set even more so, allowing the man in the middle to own the space. Backed by his brilliant band, led as always by musical director, Mason Neely, on drums and guitar, with Richie Blake on bass and Michael Riley on keyboards, Lee performed song after song with the passion we have come to expect from him, as at ease with the exquisite emotion of 'Father and Son' as he was with the cheeky humour of 'Kiss'.
The set list was slightly changed from earlier concerts - to misquote Eric Morecambe "nearly all the usual songs, just not necessarily in the usual order" - and the return of Keith Jack as a guest added further variety, of which more below.
My personal highlight, once again, was 'The Way You Look Tonight' - it's far from the most dramatic or emotional song of the set, but it allows Lee to show his own mastery of the delicious lyric delivery and phrasing that he admires so much in one of his vocal heros, Tony Bennett. That said, you'd have to go a long way to hear finer versions of 'Fix You' or 'Bring Him Home' - two very different songs, united by the simplicity of their arrangements and the stillness and intensity with which Lee performs them. His ability to inhabit a song is matched only by his ability to draw the audience with him into that world - a powerful combination I find utterly compelling.
The lovely and very talented Amanda Henderson sang her beautiful versions of 'Over the Rainbow' and 'As Long As He Needs Me', also joining Lee in a mildly gleeful 'As Long As You're Mine', the barely-suppressed giggles of two friends singing a love song to each other lightening the intensity with which the duet is normally performed in 'Wicked' while detracting nothing from their gorgeous vocals.
Lee's old 'Any Dream Will Do' adversary and long-time friend, Keith Jack, had also been to the Wycombe Swan with the Joseph tour, making his debut as the Narrator there back in 2008. On this occasion he sang 'My Girl' and Michael Buble's 'Home' in the first half, returning later with a stirring version of 'This Is The Moment'.
I have no photographs from this concert - the taking of them would have been potentially distracting and certainly rude from where I was sitting - but I hope my words give those who were unable to be there a taste of the evening and conjure up a wealth of memories for those who were. Although planning for a 2015 tour is well-advanced, this is unlikely to be until the summer... so if you haven't yet seen this tour and there is ANY possible way you can get to either or both of the final two dates - at West Cliff Theatre, Clacton on Sunday 16 November or London's Garrick Theatre on Sunday 7 December - then DO IT! I promise you won't regret it.
Lee's full concert schedule (including past performances) can be found at - CONCERT DATES
First published: 13 November 2014