When you are known world-wide as “The Voice”, you have a lot to live up to when performing live, especially in a small intimate venue like the Queen’s Hall. Many recording artists just don’t have the ability to sing well live, without all the technical wizardry of a recording studio. Russell Watson, on the other hand, sounded even better live. “The Voice” is just an incredible live performer.
From arias to Star Trek, via Les Mis and a bit of Rat Pack, Russell covered a wide range of songs and made it all look and sound so effortless. Every song was a delight to listen to, but I especially loved his version of “What a Wonderful World”, a song which Russell says has special meaning to him after his well-documented health issues over the years.
Backed by a string quartet together with guitar and piano, and accompanied by the Scottish Police Community Choir in the second half of the show, Russell’s performance was just perfect throughout. It was also a pleasure to listen to his guest, Rebecca Newman, with whom he sang a beautiful duet of “The Prayer”. However, Russell isn’t just a wonderful singer; he also has a great rapport with the audience and is an engaging story-teller too, telling us about how he started out singing and some of the audiences he has sung too, which have included royalty and heads of state, and in major venues including Sydney Opera House and the Royal Albert Hall (and now the Queen’s Hall too of course!).
What struck me most of all about Russell tonight, apart from his voice of course, was his humility. When you can easily fill huge international venues, it’s wonderful that he has chosen to do this “Up Close and Personal” tour. He went out into the audience during “Volare” (with audience participation in the chorus), smiling and shaking hands, which of course the audience loved. He genuinely still seems amazed that a lad from Salford, who left school with no qualifications, has reached such incredible heights of fame.
This was a one-night show in Edinburgh, and the last of his Scottish dates on this tour, but if you can get to one of his other shows, don’t miss the chance to hear The Voice live.