When Russell Watson tells you that he’s never sounded better you really do have to take notice.

After all it’s not as though the singer - dubbed The Voice - has ever struggled to impress an audience. But as he prepares to head off on the latest leg of his Magnificent Buildings concert tour he admitted: “I am singing better than I have ever done.

Bury Times: Russell Watson

“I honestly don’t know what’s going on - maybe it’s just I’m at that point in my life where I’m at my peak, but vocally I’ve never been more confident.

“I’d certainly say that if you want to see me, now would be a good time, I’m feeling exceptionally good at the moment.

“I think it’s probably a combination of things. I’m certainly more relaxed that I was say 10 or 15 years ago. But then again given what was going on that’s not a surprise (Russell successfully recovered from two brain tumour operations).

“ My voice has become over the years a more proficient tool and I think I have that experience of singing and an understanding what the repertoire represents. Whatever it is, it has all combined so that it is working really well and doing just what I want it to do and that’s a really nice feeling.”

The Magnificent Buildings tour will see Russell perform in cathedrals around the country with dates in Liverpool, Edinburgh and Glasgow all lined up. He will round of the tour by returning to Blackburn Cathedral on March 16.

“For person as noisy as I am, walking in to these types of places and just singing is a delight,” said Russell. “The noise I make resonates round the room.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love performing in theatres too and some of them are fantastic for a singer. The Royal Albert Hall for example does resonate well from a vocal perspective but cathedrals are just a different level.

Bury Times: Russell Watson on his Memorable Buildings tour

“These are buildings that were designed to impress and you can’t help but be slightly overawed when you walk into them.

“I remember the first time I performed at St Paul’s Cathedral I was just awestruck by the majesty of the place. Did you know that there is an 11 second delay in St Paul’s Cathedral? The last time I performed there was probably three years ago but I suspect if you go in now you’ll still hear the last few notes of the aria I sang there!

“Seriously though when you sing in a cathedral it somehow feels as though you are connected to the universe. They are phenomenal spaces and I just love to have all that space around my voice.”

For every date on the tour - including Blackburn - Russell is inviting locally-based choirs to get in touch with a view to one of them being invited to perform with him as part of the show.,

“We’re asking choirs to send in their recordings or videos and we’ll select one to hopefully join me on stage,” he said.

“It’s not something we’ve done before but we just thought it would be fun to find singers from the local area and give them a showcase.”

Any choirs who would like to be considered should email sally@aeplive.com.

In talking to Russell, you get a sense of the enjoyment and fun he derives from making music. A natural mimic, a joke is never far away.

“I will tell anecdotes and funny stories as part of the show,” he said, “but I am totally serious about my music. One thing I would never do is mix the mood so that if affects the material.

“I do actually tell a funny story before we go into Bring Him Home from Les Miserables but the moment the music starts it’s like a switch going and I’m totally serious.

“If you’re still smiling and joking through the introduction of a song you will lose the audience. You have to treat the music with the respect it deserves.

“You can’t do a half hour stand-up act and then expect to do Nessum Dorma.

Bury Times: Russell Watson

“Having said that I remember when we did a tour of Japan a few years ago. I was on a daytime TV show to promote the tour and it was total mayhem, there was so much going on. All I remember is that immediately before I was due to perform Nessum Dorma, they brought on a Japanese man bathing in a tin bath full of baked beans.

“There’s nothing you can do but just get on and do your thing but what the audience at home couldn’t see was that as I was singing they were wheeling the man in the tin bath out of the studio. That was very surreal.”

Having had some of the best selling classical crossover albums of all time and playing to sold out houses around the world, Russell is in a good position to ask about how an artist can achieve longevity in their career.

“If you include the time in the clubs when I first started, I’ve been singing for 34 years,” he said. “It’s all well and good being able to sing and having a voice and having a record label and all the rest of it but if don’t have good business acumen and you can’t forward think then you are not going to get longevity out of a career.

“Look at guys like Elton John and Rod Stewart and Tom Jones - I tip my hat to those guys. Yes they have great voices and good songs but their success hasn’t happened by accident.

“So many phenomenal artists just disappear. You have to work hard at it.”

The Magnificent Buildings tour should have ended last year with a theatre tour initially proposed for the end of 2024.

“It was just so enjoyable playing cathedrals that I just said to my wife we should just keep on doing that this year and look at 2025 for the theatre tour. It’s just such fun to do and I think audiences really enjoy shows in these different venues.”

Russell Watson is at Blackburn Cathedral on Saturday, March 16. Details from www.russellwatson.com