Review : Songs From The Heart : Lyceum Theatre, Crewe : 29th March 2016

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Songs From The Heart Tour                                                          March – August 2016

Opening night at the Lyceum Theatre, Crewe.

We arrived early as we’d read on a travel site that parking was a problem but immediately found a space on the small Pay & Display car park just opposite the theatre entrance and went for little wander around.  When we returned, Russell’s black Range Rover – now bearing his personal number plate T3NOR – was parked almost opposite, so all was coming together well.    We could see Louise and Steve Flanagan setting up the merchandise stall in the small entrance foyer so we ventured in and were pleased to be greeted well and get first ‘dibs’ on the new merchandise.  We filled a tote bag with goodies on a special discount offer and completed  a pre-order card for the new album that we learned is going to be called “True Stories”.  The album is expected to be released first in the USA around August/September, before the UK in (probably) November.  Pre-ordering offers not just an early postal delivery ahead of the CD going in the UK shops but a considerable  saving  on the expected retail price … £8 now (plus p & p) instead of about £15 later.  We also learned that the merchandise was going to be made available to buy online and there’ll be a new ”shop”  page on Russell’s website that will cater for PayPal and Credit Cards, so watch that space.

[# The new website was launched on Friday 29th April, complete with ‘shop‘. ]

After a short wait in the cosy bar, and meeting some nice people, the doors were opened and in we went.    The stage is quite high, so we didn’t expect Russell would be jumping down for a walkabout but it turned out that what stopped him was a problem with the short range of his radio mic … and a fear of splitting his trousers!

So, to the performance … Russell began with “It’s Now Or Never” that segued into a powerfully delivered  “O Sole Mio”, a great opener that  won him a deservedly warm welcome.   He followed up with two Mario Lanza songs, “With A Song In My Heart” and “Serenade”.    Next came “If I Loved You” before he took a break and the musicians entertained with a medley of Enio Morricone themes.  Russell returned to the stage with “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing”, “Santa Lucia” and “Parla Piu Piano”, finishing his first half with a fantastic “This Is The Moment” from the stage show ‘Jekyll and Hyde’.

We’d read that Russell’s Special Guest on this Tour was to be Alice Fearn whose credits included stage musicals and a part in the big screen movie version of ‘Les Miserables’ so we were expecting the possibility of something from ‘Les Mis’ from her (or them).  Wrong! An absolutely knock-out medley of duets from ‘Phantom Of The Opera” by Alice and Russell opened the second ‘half’ of the show in roof-raising style.  Catch your breath again after this! Maintaining a more intimate theme from last year’s ‘Up Close And Personal’ Tour, in the second half of the show Russell was joined on stage by a local choir who supported him through “Funiculi Funicula” and “Volare”.  It was at this point that Russell (probably very wisely) declined to jump down and go ‘walkabout’, confiding that, “the last time I jumped down from the stage, I ripped my pants … true story!

Remaining safely on stage, Russell continued with a smooth “In The Wee Small Hours” followed by an emotional “Who Can I Turn To”… tissue time!   Alice Fearn then showed her versatility with two very different solos of her own before Russell returned and they rocked out “Barcelona” together.

The pace was slowed a little with the lovely classic, “Moon River” before Russell offered his thanks to his guest artist, the musicians, choir, back-stage crews and the night’s audience for their support.

The ‘fan-favourite’ “Nessun Dorma” signalled the (near) end of the show but a standing audience calling for “ more ! “ brought Russell back for another classic, “Fever”.  He then ‘sang the praises’ of another British talent, Adele, and paid tribute to her with her own song, “When We Were Young” to great appreciation.  One fan said, ‘My favourite song by my favourite female artist beautifully sung by my favourite male artist.”  Somebody was happy!  More standing calls for a further encore brought Russell back one last time to finish with another ‘fan-favourite’, “You Raise Me Up.”

Over two hours, altogether, on stage and a really great start to the Tour.  Everyone seemed happy.  We certainly were.

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Thanks to –

Russell’s Special Guest                  Alice Fearn

Musical Director                             Edward J Rugman           (Piano and Accordion) Strings                                              Masquerade String Quartet Guitars                                              John Bailey
Drums / Percussion                       Lauren Kosty

Choir                                                 Preston Musical Comedy Society Choir

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For more on the merchandise, please see our website’s “shoppage but note that it is for information only; we do not sell any of the items.  

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For remaining Tour Dates, please see either Russell’s own website’s  “Dates“ page or our website where we’ve listed the venues in alphabetical order – makes it a bit easier to see at a glance where he’ll be.

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