Glamis Prom 2017
Glamis Prom 2017 July 15
10.07.17: Five sleeps till Glamis Prom.
Weather forecast: light cloud, moderate temperature.
I still can’t really believe it - I’m going to Glamis
Prom. How did that happen? I’d dismissed the idea
of making the trip up to Scotland, as soon as the
concert was announced. A journey on public
transport to Glamis Castle? No! Too long; too
complicated. Instead I offered my house as a
stopping over place to some friends, so they could rest up on the way.
“There’s room in my car, Jane,” my friend said. So that was it. Suddenly I was one of the fortunate fans able to go to Glamis. Oh wow!
11.07.17: Four sleeps till Glamis Prom.
Weather forecast: light cloud, some heavy cloud, moderate temperature.
Time to think about packing.
The promoters encouraged attendees to glam up. That’s all the excuse I needed to ferret my midnight blue tea dress out of my wardrobe. I’ve worn it once for my silver wedding anniversary. It needs another airing.
As does my long, velvet coat. Great. I’ll be glam alright!
12.07.17: Three sleeps till Glamis Prom.
Weather forecast: light cloud, light showers in the morning, cooler temperature.
Posh frock carefully packed. I added a warm wrap and a pair of woolly tights.
One of the gang tweeted to say she’d ordered rain ponchos for us all. After the soggy-wet-though Cliff Richard concert last month, we will be good little scouts and ‘Be prepared’.
13.07.17: Two sleeps till Glamis Prom.
Weather forecast: heavy rain all day.
ARRRGGHH! Forget the posh frock! Abandon velvet coat!
It’s time for layers, and something more water repellent. Back in the wardrobe with the posh stuff.
New plan - heavy black jeans, a tea shirt and a jumper. After all, no one is going to see what I’m wearing under my waterproof.
14.07.17 – 6am: One sleep till Glamis Prom.
Weather forecast: light showers in the morning, heavy cloud in the afternoon changing to light cloud later, cooler temperature.
SSQQUEEALLL!!! The girls are coming this afternoon! By this evening we’ll be in Scotland. SSQQUEEALLL!
I’ve still time to repack. Let’s keep the heavy black jeans but add a lighter skirt in case the weather forecast improves. Also adding a gauzy turquoise blouse. The black tee shirt will look ok under it...best add a vest though. Do I have room for my purple, velvet jacket?
10am – weather forecast: heavy showers all day.
Sod it! I’m not repacking. The bag is stuffed full, including somewhat crumpled purple jacket. It’s time to shower and dress. Hmmm. I think I can just about squeeze the cagoule I borrowed from my sister-in-law in that bag...
12 pm – weather forecast: heavy showers in the morning, brightening up by the afternoon.
No more fiddling with the packing. Everyone is staying over at my house on Sunday evening, we’ll arrive late, hungry and tired.So I am planning ahead and making a vegetarian chili. Aren’t I the hostess with the mostest?!
12.30 pm – weather forecast: dry in the morning, heavy showers between 1pm and 4pm, heavy cloud till 8pm, light showers till 10pm.
That’s it. I’m not checking again.
1 pm - light showers in the morning till 10am, heavy cloud till 12pm, light cloud to 2pm, light showers till 6pm, heavy cloud till 8pm, heavy showers till 10 pm.
The gang arrived right on time. “Have you seen the weather for forecast?” she said.
2pm - weather forecast same as it was last time. Is my ap broken?
So with car loaded, four eager fans set off up North. The long journey flew by in a flurry of chatter – and yes, forecast checks, which annoying fluctuated between improving and worsening.
We arrived at our hotel about an hour earlier than expected. Time for a freshen up, before heading for a much needed drink and dinner (which included my new favourite starter – haggis balls. Nom nom nom).
Afterwards we adjourned to the bar for more chit-chat before eventually crawling off to bed. Lovely!
15.07.2017 – 7am: Today’s the day!
Weather forecast: rain all day.
We’re as prepared as we possibly can be. Clothing for all weathers, waterproof ponchos, umbrellas…and copious quantities of Deet. Thanks to our Local Loppy Guide for reminding us of the savagery of the Scottish midge.
10am - Weather forecast: rain till 12pm, light cloud till 4pm, light rain till 8pm.
Note to self: never go shopping for picnic food after a big breakfast. It’s really hard to decide what to take.
12.30pm – Weather forecast: rain till 4pm, light cloud till 8pm, rain till 10pm.
Picnic shop finished, we had over an hour and a half before lunch time. Our native guide booked us a table at a pub close to Glamis Castle. There are loads of things we might have enjoyed doing together before the meet-up but the morning’s weather forecast being pretty accurate (rain), limited our options.
So our driver took us to Dundee to…well just for somewhere to go really.
We learned one important thing about Dundee: the roadwork planning committee enjoys sending tourists up cobbled roads.
1.30 pm weather forecast: who cares!
Our Scottish Loppy chose a great place for lunch, a pub called the Mill. Good food, nice atmosphere – but the best thing? The company.
3pm: drizzle, clearing.
Glamis Castle; or rather the grounds thereof. The approach is a long drive between – well I want to say lawns, but general lawns get cut with lawn mowers rather than herds of cattle. It’s a very special place.
Troops of Venture Scouts, guided us to the car park. The VIP car park, don’t you know. (We’d bought VIP package seats.)
We parked up and as the car doors opened a wonderful tune drifted over to us. Everyone scrambled out to listen for that much beloved voice “I closed my eyes…” SQQUUEEAALL!!! We’d caught Lee’s sound-check (the very end of it at least) and as we lathered ourselves with insect repellent, and gathered up our bags, we provided some “Ahh-ah-ahs”. Well it’s expected.
The ticket said that the event opened at 4pm but one of the nice scouty-types told us we could go in early. :)
3.20pm: slightly damp but warming up.
No one told the guy at the gate that we could go in early. Still we entertained ourselves with sing-a-long-a “Thank you for the Music” (bits of the chorus anyway) and our traditional game of Spot Meady.
3.50pm: dry and warm and what’s that yellow thing in the sky?
A people carrier with tinted windows drove passed. The general consensus was that it contained Mr Mead, given he’d been last spotted very close to it. As it turned the corner the sun shone through one of the passenger windows, showing me a brief but very clear silhouette. It had curly hair. :)
4 pm: someone spotted a blue patch of sky.
Come on guys, let us in! I’m not used to standing this long in a field. Stairwells, now I can do those.
4.10 pm: drizzling again.
More sound checks - a Disney Medley. I want to get sat down now please!
4.20 pm: drizzle gone, the yellow thing makes an embarrassed return.
Peter, the events manager has done us proud. We’d originally been allocated seats nowhere near each other (which we hadn’t realised until the tickets arrived). I really didn’t fancy sitting on my own, but a phone call and a couple of emails – all sorted.
We’re on two tables pushed together right at the front, to the right of centre stage. As a bonus, our other friends are next to us, and the Irish contingent just a couple of tables away. We spotted more loyal fans a little further away from us on the left. It’s good to have so many of us, practically together.
While we unpacked picnics and sipped our Prosseco, a cellist and violinist serenaded us. OK so they were one of the support acts, doing their sound check. I was impressed. If this is to be the standard of the evening’s entertainment, I will be a very happy lady.
6pm: The yellow thing disappeared again but hey – it’s dry.
Peter, our Master of Ceremonies, mounted the stage. Very graciously, he welcomed us and introduced the first ‘support’ act, a local lad called Matthew Tomlinson.
I liked him. It helped, of course, that he was easy on the eyes (because I’m shallow and I like neatly cropped beards and tweed waist coats) but he was also easy on the ear. He has a light, pleasant voice and an unpretentious manner, which I warmed to.
My only criticism was that he lacked…let’s call it stage craft. Things like directing his singing too much to the front row, and dull, impersonal links between songs. But that’s all stuff that can be learnt. I think this lad is someone to look out for.
6.30pm: Clouds are getting lighter, and it’s warming up. My purple velvet jacket comes off.
After a break for chin-wagging and a loo visit, the next act came on to the stage. Soul Nation is a soul and gospel choir about 10 strong – or maybe 12. (I don’t know, I wasn’t bored so I didn’t count them.) They were very good, both vocally and with how they involved the audience (getting us all to raise our arms during choruses, that sort of thing).
I have only one complaint. A ridiculous number of photographers, seven at one point, insisted on hanging round in front of the stage. Some were professional and discreet. (I mean that they wore black, and took their photos from a crouching position, moving away once they’d done.) I might not have minded but one or two were not so considerate. They stood where they wanted, when they wanted and didn’t seem to bother that they might block the view of the paying public.
From my seat I wasn’t too badly off, but I felt for the Irish Loppies who’d not only paid the ticket price but the airfare from Ireland.
Annoying enough during the support acts, but what if they do that when Mr Mead is on the stage??!! One of the gang has spoken to the organiser.
6.50pm: Blue skies over the stage – big lumpy clouds behind us.
The last of the support acts, The Ayoub Sisters, were my favourites so far. Funnily I preferred their sound check to their actual set. Something seemed to go awry with the sound for the cello making it screech on its lower notes (which had not happened earlier) and in their first number I couldn’t even hear the violin. The latter problem turned out to be because the violinist forgot to turn on her mike! Doh! Once sorted, the two instruments sounded wonderful together – at least until the cellist went for a low note.
The organiser must have acted very quickly because the nuisance photographers are keeping out of the way.
7.00pm: lumpy black clouds over head but the air feels fresher. My purple jacket goes on again.
The main show. The orchestra take to the stage. And I mean proper orchestra, at least…
[OK, I CONFESS. I didn’t really write my diary during the show. And now it’s gone wrong because there’s stuff I can’t remember - like if there was a brass section. Loads of strings filled the stage, and I’m sure they had woodwind and a small percussion section…but was there any brass? The souvenir programme isn’t helping. OK – going back into Bridget Jones mode. Let’s pretend this digression never happened.]
The orchestra performed 'The Carousel Waltz' as a sort of overture – a nicely refined way to start the show. I’m beginning to wish I’d worn my posh frock after all. It’s turning into that sort of evening.
Jacket almost came off just to show off my pretty turquoise blouse but a breeze has sprung up. Let’s stick with purple velvet.
Peter, our compare, returned to the stage and introduced the first of the main guests. “Casualty and Holby City Heartthrob…” Ooo ooo sqquealll!! And I so loved that Peter called him a heartthrob. Then he went on to talk about him being a West End star. I must have been beaming like an idiot when Lee sauntered onto that stage.
Lee Mead opening the show. YES!
Of course on a cultured evening like this I was far too genteel to say “Phwoar”, but I was thinking it.
Mr Mead scrubs up very well. His dark blue suit (the one he was wearing on the cover of his Some Enchanted Evening CD) matched the tone of the evening. He looked so elegant in it but at the same time not too formal, not too grand. Good choice Lee!
And with curls his still in what I think of as ‘Holby City’ style (short, but thickly clustered over his brow) I bet more than a few hearts started fluttering in his presence!
With a smile he began his first of five numbers: 'Some Enchanted Evening'.
Those of you who have read my reports of last year’s tour might remember that 'Some Enchanted Evening' isn’t my favourite song in Lee’s varied repertoire. For this night though, it was an ideal opening number.
The strings swooped and soared, as Lee’s rich voice gently laid the melody over them. Ahh – to hear him sing live with a full orchestra. A new experience for me, and one I will not forget. And he, gracious as ever, turned towards the musicians several times, as though in thanks for their wonderful work.
I think Lee must have spotted the group of fans sitting to the left side of the stage. At least he looked in their direction repeatedly; no doubt he was pleased to see his own supporters present. Not that he ignored the rest of the crowd. Oh no! Lee doesn’t just concentrate of the front rows. He sings out to those at the back, those in the middle, the edges… he sings to everyone. Now that’s proper stage craft, that is.
The song ended as always with that soft, expertly controlled, sustained note rising to float over the music. The audience seemed impressed. Loud applause, whoops (not just from me but I was doing my share) and cheers greeted his bow.
As I’ve often said, one of the reasons I love seeing Lee is those talky bits between each song. No set formula “My next song is----- from -----. I hope you enjoy it” sort of thing, from Lee. His chat always sounds natural and unrehearsed.
As you might expect, he commented on the weather, and the lack of the R word.
Then pointing beyond us: “There’s a CASTLE. I’m singing to a CASTLE!” He he he!.
He introduced his next song by explaining that he played Prince Fiyero Roche in Wicked. More chuckles.
[Shame he didn’t get more chances to show off his great sense of humour, (he didn’t manage to talk to the audience again after that one brief link), but I could understand why. ] So let me tell you about his next song. Have you guessed? Of course you have! 'Dancing Through Life'.
YouTubeCredit: Lyn Morgan
Ah, I enjoyed hearing Lee sing 'Dancing Through Life' again. I like the song, and Lee sparkled as he sang… Sorry. Just got distracted thinking of those really tight white trousers and the calf-length boots. Mmmmm….OK I’m back in the room. Errm I mean, back at the picnic table.
No dancing through 'Dancing Through Life' this time. Instead he strode about the stage, very much channeling the arrogant princeling from the early scenes in Wicked.
Ooo that mischievous breeze couldn’t help playing with those perfect curls, not that I blame it. ( I can’t believe it. I’m jealous of a draught!)
And that was our first taste of Mead.
His only remaining duty was to introduce the next performer, promising to keep to the Wicked theme - Christina Bianco.
Wind picking up. Time to slip my waterproof jacket around my shoulders.
Let me start with an apology to Christina’s many fans in attendance. I’d not heard of her. This isn’t surprising. Though I adore musical theatre, outside of Mr Mead’s associates, I seldom take note of who is in what production (unless it’s someone I actively like or dislike).
As she wafted onto the stage in her emerald evening dress, she made an excellent first impression on me. Classy stuff Ms Bianco. Like Lee she appeared to speak off the cuff, with charming diffidence and a gracious smile.
Her choice of song perplexed me. I expected 'Defying Gravity' or 'Not That Girl', but she gave us 'The Wizard and I'. It’s a decent song. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense out of the context of the show.
As soon as she started singing I thought to myself, "What a great voice for folk music." I would love to hear her sing ‘She Moves Through the Fair’. This is me trying to say, as nicely as possible (because I liked the lass) I didn’t think she had the voice of an Elphaba – too nasal, too strident. I give her full marks for stage presence though, and for putting her whole heart into it.
'Not that Girl' would have been a much more suitable choice.
A few specks of light rain: water proof coat goes on properly, but I’m brave and don’t put the hood up.
Next performer: Britain’s Got Talent winner, Jai McDowall. The guy certainly does have talent. He has a very nice, clear, voice, and a fine pair of lungs to project it. And he used his lung power all the time. Impressive, yes, but it was the vocal equivalent of cranking the amp up to 11 (any Spinal Tap fans reading?). His full-on delivery robbed his performances of light and shade, which was a pity because, as I say, otherwise he was very good. The subtleties might very well come with time. Let’s hope so.
The rain stops. I’m keeping the waterproof on just in case.
[My memory is playing tricks again. I think Soul Nation joined Jai for his last song (don’t ask what; can’t remember), then stayed on for another couple of songs on their own. I’m not sure. I’m only guessing they came back on because someone was performing while Christina and Jai had a costume change, and you can be sure I’d have remembered if it had been Lee! That said it could have been an instrumental… let’s continue]
Jai and Christina came back on together for a segment that we’d had a taste of at the sound check - a medley of Disney duets.
This included some of my favourite Disney songs…
Plus some which had been locked in the vaults of my childhood memory…
Plus some cheesy stuff I’m not keen on…
Plus some I didn’t know…
Hang on! Are they going to single every single duet from every Disney film ever?
It certainly seemed like it.
At least I can categorically now tell you that it isn’t actually possible to expire from a surfeit of Disney songs, but it was touch and go at times.
I might have enjoyed it had the two of them actually acted like a partnership. You know, maybe…well look at each other. Instead they stood at either side of the stage facing out towards the audience. Yep nice to listen to, but as romantic as a knitting lesson.
The one visually arresting moment came thanks to Ms Bianco’s filmy skirts and a return of the breeze being all mischievous again. It wafted the gauzy fabric all about, so she appeared to be floating on a cloud of blue chiffon. Now that did look rather gorgeous.
Temperature warming again, another break in the clouds. Water-poof back off.
At last the Disney extravaganza finished, and Lee returned to the stage, this time with the show’s headliner, Susan Boyle, for their own duet – 'All I Ask of You'. What a difference!
Lee and Subo, might have been alone together. They concentrated completely on each other, with Lee’s eyes fixed on her face (she had her back to me, but by the angle of her face she had her eyes fixed on him too - coz, like if Lee were singing to me, I’d be looking at the orchestra. I don’t think) as he imbued every word with its full meaning.
From my seat I could see every nuanced expression of tenderness, concern, affection, and reassurance flit over his face, combining into a sense of a man desperate to protect this lady. Did I mention those eyes?! So intense, so focused. (Thud!)
And as for Ms Boyle? She was quite obviously struggling with a throat problem, cracking on her very first note, bless her. Did she let that phase her? Nope. She continued like the pro she is. Good on her!
A slight Meady moment; Lee reached out to touch her arm as if for reassurance. So sweet, Then came the musical interlude, when he held her in his arms and she leaned her head against his chest….AWWWWWwwwww!!!!
Susan has something in common with Lee. She too understands how to build a song and tell a story. From the gentle opening, the pair of them gradually powered up to that mighty crescendo, two voices beautiful matched and harmonising, till that final wistful phrase "Love me. That’s all I ask of you."
As the ecstatic audience went crazy, Lee bent to kiss her hand.
And THAT ladies and gentlemen is how to perform a duet.
Bright sunshine! Actual sun! Well for a moment or two.
[I know there was more to the first half, but my minds a blank. Let’s skip on to the end, which like the beginning featured Lee – this time supported by Soul Nation.]
You’ll never guess what Lee sang! On no, wait, you already have done - 'Any Dream Will Do'.
YouTubeCredit: Stoo Whyte
Can anyone think of a better way to draw the first act to a conclusion? Nah!
Of course the little groups of Lee fans scattered around the first couple of rows needed no encouragement to wave their arms, and join in with the “ah-a-ahs”. It was at this point, Lee made eye contact with our little group. A grin spread over his face. He nodded at us as if to say “Well done ladies, now keep it going” (we did). He even gave us a wink. I’m sure he acknowledged his other fans too, coz like that guy is so lovely. Awwww!!
Ah, and then a real treat - the PROPER 'Any Dream Will Do' ending.
“Give me my coloured coat, my amazing coloured coat!” he sang, and that final clarion blast of a note finished part one. Wow!
Interval: clouds and blue skies fighting it out.
A chance for all of Lee’s fans to gather together and discuss what we’d seen and heard.
20 minutes pass very quickly (some of us are after all veterans of the three hour Pheasantry queue. 20 minutes? Ha! Hardly time to say hello!) and the return of the orchestra signalled us to take our seats.
The clouds won.
Part 2. [I’m going to be sketchy here. I’ll do my best.]
We knew Lee only had one further song to sing and that came quite early.
But what a song – and what a performance! 'Maria'.
YouTubeCredit: Lyn Morgan
Lee has been singing 'Maria' at the Pheasantry all this year, but never-the-less, it was a brave choice for him. After all he always mentions THAT top note. You know, the one in the middle, which is slightly out of range for a second tenor like Lee. The one he’s always so worried about hitting.
You can imagine how all his fans willed him on, as that note approached – and the huge grins on our faces, as with consummate ease he hit it, held it, and allowed it to swell with passion.
“Nailed it!” we mouthed to each other. Lee knew too. The beaming smiles he flashed around seemed to say everything.
So Lee took his bow, and left the stage to loud acclamation.
Time to zip up my coat, there’s dampness in the air.
Mr Mead may have withdrawn, but there were other highlights to enjoy.
Soul Nation’s rendition of 'Somebody to Love' which they rather optimistically suggested people could sing along to. (Alas, my voice can no longer be encouraged up to Roger Taylor’s range.)
Christina and Jai singing 'Suddenly Seymour' – much more engaging that their earlier Disney montage. This time they sang to each other, which transformed their whole performance.
Erin Paterson, a little lass who won a talent completion to be on stage that evening, and who I confidently expect to be hearing more of. Yep. That good.
Here we go! The heavens open. Out with the rain ponchos!
The last solo slot went, naturally, to Susan Boyle as the headline act.
She began 'Over the Rainbow' (in the style of Eva Cassidy) but didn’t seem at all comfortable. She stopped the orchestra. (I admired her simple honesty, and sense of humour.) “Sorry I have a frog in my throat. Krebbit, krebbit!”
Someone brought her a bottle of water and after talking a swig she began again, this time with the confidence that I had been expecting from her.
Now I’m not fond of 'Over the Rainbow' and I really loathe it slowed right down, but that said she did a cracking job. I could see why she’s lauded.
She ended with the song that made her famous – 'I Dreamed a Dream'. Ah. Now this was the Subo I’d been waiting to hear. Her voice soared, and as she powered through the last chorus, without a trace of the straining or screeching. This woman is indeed an extraordinary talent.
As her final note fade she raised her arms in a regal gesture, as if to capture the wild applause of her adoring, if somewhat soggy by now, fans.
Someone screamed out for more, shouting praises and adulation. She smiled quite shyly and replied in song… “I’m nothing special, in fact I’m a bit of a bore…”
Such a perfect riposte might well have been set up, but even if so, it worked. As the other performers returned to the stage, they segued seamlessly into the finale, 'Thank you for the Music.'
Lee took his place next to Susan.
Sod the rain!
Arms raised we swayed and sang along to the chorus… Lee stepped forward to take his turn singing a verse.
AAAARRGGHHH!!! An over-enthusiastic reveller rushed to the front and stood right in front of me blocking my view. Should I stand up myself? No. That would just cause more problems for the people behind us. I swung myself violently one way, then the other (which must have also been irritating for whoever was behind me – sorry if you’re reading this!) to try to see round her.
Fortunately my friend quietly but firmly asked her to sit down. The woman took an empty seat in the front row and continued enjoying herself, but this time without annoying anyone else.
I’d missed seeing Lee sing his verse, oh well.
He looked over to us when we started the chorus singalong again, giving us another trademark Meady grin as we lifted our rain-poncho-encumbered arms for a final joyful expression of our delight.
And that was it.
Bows – and a much deserved standing ovation, and the prom was over.
I felt so privileged to there, at Glamis, wrapped up in the beauty of the moment, watching and admiring such stunning performances.
And what have I learned from this experience?
The old adage about Scottish weather is right: If you don’t like it, wait twenty minutes