Life (mainly work) is still ridiculously busy and, a week on from the September gigs, this is the first time I've been still for long enough to reflect on them... so here I am, a beaming smile on my face, basking in the memories of an utterly joyful weekend, start to finish - travelling, exploring, eating, drinking, chatting, laughing and most of all listening in wonder as Lee Mead wove his magic once, twice, thrice more. I am going to MISS this tour.
I really am going to keep this brief (well, I'll try to at least!) but I have as usual included the full set lists for those who like to read the small print. I think it may have been the first weekend all tour where the set list has been consistent across all three evenings - but regardless of content, the quality is always consistent. Consistently brilliant!
Beyond that, the song selection shuns an easy genre label ... a glance down the set list calls to mind composers and artists as diverse as Boublil & Schönberg and Take That, Nina Simone and the Rolling Stones, Lloyd Webber and U2. And with every song Lee does his thing. The thing that makes him such a compelling performer ... drawing you with him into the heart of a song, telling its story. Often telling his own story too... each song chosen with care, for its message, for its memory, for its meaning to him. He talks often about needing to find that connection with the material he chooses, because if he cares about what he's singing, he will sing it better, he will bring it alive for the audience. Yes Mr Mead, you will. You do. Every time.
The weekend's schedule first took us across the water to the Isle of Wight - Lee's third visit to the island but his first to the Medina Theatre in Newport. It's the first venue I can remember going to where the stage is actually lower than the front row of seating, offering a rather different perspective for both Lee and his audience, the well-raked rows in three blocks wrapping around the stage having the feel of an amphitheatre...
And that's as far as I got a week ago before life got in the way again. So, with the Stages Festival a couple of days away (when I'm leaving work behind but plan to be too busy having fun to write more) I'm giving up now and leaving you with a few photos (click on any to view the full GALLERY) and the assurance that as we moved from Newport to the Octagon Theatre in Yeovil (Lee's third visit to this lovely Somerset venue) and onwards to the Theatre Royal in Winchester (a sold out show on his second visit to the city), Lee, his brilliant band and his superb 10 Years Anniversary show delivered on every level.
He sang his heart out, made us laugh and cry and laugh some more, shared exciting news - he's staying on in Holby *whoop* and his 2019 tour announcement has been delayed because there's been so much demand from venues that they're scheduling more dates *whoop whoop* - had us holding our breath and cheering 'til we were hoarse. And again and again (three times in Yeovil!) had the crowd on their feet - beaming, cheering, whooping, whistling, all the while applauding, not wanting the show to end.
I say it every time and I'll make no apologies for saying it again - this tour is a total joy. Whether you've loved Lee since Any Dream Will Do days (or even before!), first saw him in Joseph or Wicked or Legally Blonde or Chitty, discovered him on TV in Casualty or Holby, or say to yourself "Lee who?" as you read your local theatre's What's On brochure, it's a true celebration of a fantastic decade of music from a real master of his craft.
So, here's to the next ten years, and more imminently to the last six gigs on this brilliant 10 Year Anniverary tour - a trio in just two weeks' time on 26-28 October in Newark, Wellingborough and Redditch, the original tour finale in Lee's home town Southend on 25 November and two dates deferred to next year due to the impossibility of Lee being in two places at once (especially when one of those places is Aberdeen!) - King's Lynn now on 10 March 2019 and Clacton on 18 August 2019. I'm quietly delighted that we'll get to revisit this wonderful tour in 2019 alongside Lee's new show My Story: A Dream that Became a Reality which is due to be announced very soon!
See Lee's full concert and events schedule (including past appearances) at CONCERT & LIVE EVENTS.