The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine at Joe’s Pub, NYC:

This intimate set was a showcase for the American version of Storyteller, which was due for release in the USA at that time.  A whole host of US fans were able to attend, which is very lucky for everyone else, resulting in plenty of videos of the set.  The show has a relaxed feel and the two musicians worked so well with Alfie, despite them only having rehearsed with Alfie for a short time.  And, shallowly, it’s another excuse to see Alfie with his sexy specs. I chose this song as it’s more indicative of Storyteller, although I was sorely tempted by A Vucchella.

The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine was written by Bob Gaudio and and Bob Crewe for Franki Valli but the song wasn’t a hit until recorded by The Walker Brothers in 1966:

Storyteller is available here:

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When I was looking for a subject for this month’s edition of Exploring New Music, I was again inspired by seeing Alfie perform, this time at Scarborough.  The song choice was Wildflowers by Tom Petty and I loved it:

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are musicians that belong to the rarefied greats of music but aside from a monster hit of an album in the late 1980’s, I had not really listened to their music.  Regular readers will know that of the seven previous editions of Exploring New Music, I’ve not liked them all and nor did I expect to; after all, if you don’t expose yourself to new sounds, how will you ever find the performers of tomorrow?  However, you’ll be pleased to know that after listening to a good number of Heartbreakers albums, I love this music!  Thank you Alfie for introducing me to yet another fab musician.

I started with the Heartbreakers first, eponymous, album from 1976, which wasn’t a great hit at the time.  That came later, after the release of Damn the Torpedoes.  The 60’s inspired sound is a mixture of great tunes, rhythm and catchy hooks spread over nine tracks that range from fast and frantic to mellow, laid back and everything in between.  American Girl and Breakdown are the stand out tracks.

The group’s third album, Damn the Torpedoes was released in 1979 and the band very much needed it to be a hit. Luckily, it had some fantastic tunes. From the very first notes of Refugee to the very last notes of Louisiana Rain, it’s clear that this is a stonking good record.  There is not one track you’d skip, it’s all great.  My favourites are Louisiana Rain and Don’t Do Me Like That but really, I could have picked any of the songs.

Moving on, we come to the Tom Petty I remember from my teenage years; the Travelling Wilbury (always had a soft spot for George Harrison) and all round superstar, perhaps as a result of 1989’s Full Moon.  A solo album (with a couple of Heartbreakers playing on it), this album was a complete runaway success, with at least three classic Petty tracks coming from it: I Won’t Back Down, Free Fallin’ and Runnin’ Down a Dream.

I would love to hear Alfie singing this – it seems perfect for him.  Anyway, never mind Alfie, I’m thinking of adopting it as a personal motto from now on.

The last album I’m looking at is a more stripped back affair: Wildflowers from 1994.  Another solo effort, this reveals the soft, acoustic, mellow side of Petty’s music.  Encompassing folk, upbeat tracks with great danceability, rock and blues, the best tracks for me are You Wreck Me, Cabin Down Below, Broken Heart and the title track.

We’ve long known that Alfie loves rock music and it’s no longer a surprise to hear him introducing new rock tracks into his live sets.  In fact, one of the best things about seeing Alfie live is wondering which rock band will he choose to cover tonight? It’s one of the reasons why I love his live sets – you never know what you’re gonna get.  So next time someone says life is like a box of chocolates, say “no – it’s like an Alfie Boe concert!”

Of these albums, my favourite is Damn the Torpedoes, available here:

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Opera superstar Sir Bryn Terfel is releasing his first album for five years in September and I’m thrilled that Alfie Boe will be a guest!  Titled Dreams and Songs, the album is a collection of songs that Bryn loves.

Recorded at London’s Abbey Road studios, the album also features soprano Danielle de Niese on Amazing Grace, tenor Joseph Calleja on Granada and Katherine Jenkins on Tell My Father.  In addition, Dame Emma Thompson and Ron Brydon join Bryn on Do You Love Me from Fiddler on the Roof and The Golfer’s Lament, respectively.  There is also a world premiere recording of The Shepherd Poet Of Passchendaele, written especially for Bryn by Penclawdd-born Sir Karl Jenkins, the most performed living composer. The song is inspired by the story of Welsh poet Hedd Wyn, who died on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele (the Third Battle of Ypres), with poignant lyrics written by Sir Karl’s wife – Lady Jenkins, Carol Barratt.

Alfie will duet with Bryn on John Denver’s Perhaps Love, recorded with Placido Domingo in 1981 – this will be tremendous with Alfie and Bryn’s voices.  Of course, Alfie and Bryn have known each other for a long time; Bryn appeared at the Royal Opera House whilst Alfie was a student in the Vilar Programme – click here (from 4.19) to see footage of the two of them together.  However, since then, the pair have performed together, most notably at the South Bank Awards, singing the Pearl Fishers duet.  This performance was the winner in an early thoughtsofjustafan poll to find your favourite Alfie Boe duet – duets have taken on a whole new meaning for Alfie since then!

Acclaimed worldwide for tackling the biggest opera roles, Sir Bryn’s new album – his first in five years – shows his lighter side with a collection of his most loved songs, recorded in brand new orchestral versions. He says, “This is some of my favourite concert repertoire. Songs and duets, some humorous encores that I just adore to sing. And how lucky I am to share the album with some incredible artists, and to record at the amazing, iconic Abbey Road.”

Alongside the release of Dreams and Songs, Sir Bryn Terfel continues to give major performances around the world. Following his title role in Falstaff at London’s Royal Opera House, he will be reprising his title role as Sweeney Todd at Zürich Opera in December. He will also sing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall on 5th October for a special concert which includes music by Verdi, Wagner, Mozart and more.

Dreams and Songs can be pre-ordered here:

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Into August and the countdown to the 2018 Blackpool Illumination Switch On is under way – anyone going to see Alfie switch on?

In the meantime, let’s take a look at Janice Stark’s song selection.  Janice first saw Alfie on the Royal Variety Show 2010), bought the 25th Anniversary DVD has bought all his CD’s and DVD’s ever since. Janice says “I think I really prefer his opera renditions but the more modern songs have grown on me so tried to get a mix in my choice of six!”

Danny Boy, from Trust.

Dimming of the Day, Trust.

The Floral Dance at Children In Need Rocks for Sir Terry.

If I Can Dream, Storyteller.

Patiently Smiling, Love Was A Dream.

The Pearl Fishers Duet, with Bryn Terfel – Janice chose this or Nessun Dorma as her sixth song, so I chose this as it hasn’t been chosen before.

Another three new tracks have been added to our list – at this rate, we’ll eventually have every single song from Alfie!

If you would like to see your choices featured, please fill in the form:

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As if any Alfie Boe fan could forget, his homecoming concert in Fleetwood on 2 June was spectacular and a one off.

Not only was it special for the obvious reason of seeing Alfie perform (photo, Annie Lloyd) in his home town but it was also a major fundraiser for Alfie’s local charity, Trinity and Brian House Hospices.

As well as £2 from each ticket sale going directly to the charity, there were also several large donations on the night plus £2,700 in bucket collections.  It has now been revealed that the amount raised through ticket sales alone was £16,382, making a grand total of £22,082 – enough to fund a whole week at the children’s hospice, Brian House.  Well done everyone – that’s amazing!

Brian House is on the same site as Trinity. With space for four children as in-patients, the service supports over eighty families in total, meeting complex needs, providing support for the family and care for children who will not be cured of their illness. Respite care, which is provided at regular intervals, gives families the opportunity to experience times of relief and normality. When a child’s life is limited it puts enormous pressure on every member of the family as they try to cope with the emotional, practical and financial implications. It can be really hard for brothers and sisters too, so for all the family, Brian House is a support mechanism. This support continues even when the service is no longer required as each child that passes away is named on the memory tree; many families find comfort in being able to return to see their child’s name. I was lucky enough to look around before the Fleetwood concert and I have to say that it’s an amazing place. The kitchen is a hive of activity and with its sweet shop colour theme and giant marshmallow decorations looks good enough to eat! Each of the four bedrooms has a theme, with one specially designed for teenagers. The lounge areas are spacious enough for group music therapy (beds can be accommodated), and for informal play and relaxation. The sensory room and corridor are an adventure of colour, light and sounds and the sound I could hear coming down the corridor was chat and laughter from children and adults alike.

Although a week’s funding from one event is wonderful, Trinity and Brian House need to continue providing help to the local community and so the fundraising never ends.  If you would like to join the next fan fundraiser, then your luck is in because thoughtsofjustafan’s annual Alfie Boe YouTube Marathon is taking place over the weekend of 11 and 12 August.  For a fun weekend of watching your favourite Alfie Boe videos whilst donating to Trinity, click here to join the Facebook event.  If you don’t have Facebook, never fear, click here to donate anyway. All who participate in the marathon will be eligible to win a signed Trinity hoodie!

 

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It’s been a very busy time for Alfie fans until recently and we haven’t had time to feature many fan stories, so this post sees more from our occasional series, Six Sensational Songs.

Today’s choices come from Chris Coats, who first saw him singing Stranger in Paradise on TV and thought “wow, what a voice.”  These are Chris’s songs:

You Are My Heart’s Delight, chosen by Chris as it reminds her of her grandparents, who loved Richard Tauber.  The same reason goes for Girls Were Made to Love and Kiss, from the same Lehar album, Love Was A Dream.  Sadly I can’t find a video of this but Soundcloud is the next best thing:

Core ‘ngrato, from Alfie’s first album, Classic FM Presents, was Chris’s mum’s favourite song and “had to be on the list”.

As I mentioned in the introduction, Chris first saw Alfie on this very TV appearance and it makes the list because it was the first time she heard THAT voice.

Mattinata, from La Passione, because “it’s such a lovely tune.”

The last of Chris’s six songs is from Serenata, Non Ti Scordar Ti Me and once again, I can’t find a video!

Yet again, I’m astounded that four new tracks have been added to our choice of six sensational songs, this time, very much in Alfie’s classical repertoire.

If you would like to see your choices featured, please fill in the form:

Finally, if you haven’t yet seen the news, Alfie will be switching on the Blackpool Illuminations on 31 August!

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Summer is here and it’s another chance to look at Alfie Boe’s fabulous repertoire, with Joan Mould’s Six Sensational Songs.  Joan first became aware of Alfie at the Royal Variety Show and until Kenwood recently, had yet to see Alfie live.  Hope you enjoyed it Joan!  Here are Joan’s choices.

Bridge Over Troubled Water, from Storyteller.  Joan heard this on iTunes and thinks it’s “the best version I’ve ever heard”.  I’m with you there, Joan!

Run, from the VE Day celebrations, is the fans favourite live song by a long way, winning the annual best live Alfie Boe song every year since 2015.

Bring Him Home.

In My Daughter’s Eyes, for Joan’s two grown up daughters.

Keep Me In Your Heart – my favourite!

Empty Chairs and Empty Tables, with Nick Jonas, Marius from the Les Mis 25th Anniversary concert.

Thanks Joan for letting us hear your six sensational songs.

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Angie, at Dartford:

One of my favourite songs (I still don’t know how I missed it off my list of Six Sensational Songs), I’ve yet to hear it live.  One day, or at least I can hope!

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Seven months into my quest to listen to different musicians and I’ve arrived at a band I’ve known for twenty years (!) and enjoyed but fallen out of touch with.  Travis have had huge worldwide success and have recorded many albums over those twenty years and, judging from reports and YouTube, are an awesome live band.  I’ve chosen this band because Alfie worked with them a couple of years ago, recording (down the phone from NYC) the backing vocals for Paralysed:

Shades of Opera Dude from the Clint Boon days!  Great song, performance and sheer delight from Alfie.  The track is from Travis’s 2016 album Everything At Once and for me, is the stand out track.  That might just because Alfie’s on it!  Magnificent Time is a great track to dance to and I also really enjoyed Idlewild, the band’s first recorded duet, with Josephine Oniyama – what a lovely voice.

I first became aware of Travis, around twenty years or so ago, with the release of The Man Who (1999) and their indie music, tailor made for live gigs.  Writing To Reach You is a lovely song, but Driftwood is my song of the album:

This is the closest thing to an upbeat song, at least from that album, from Travis – their songs do have somewhat of a reputation for being a little…downbeat shall we say?  Fran Healy, write and lead singer says that Driftwood is “an ode to my girlfriend at the time and now wife, Nora, who was a bit of a hippy, and just floated through life and didn’t really focus all her talents of which she has many… not exactly uptempo but the lyrics in ‘Driftwood’ are as good as it gets and I could quite happily put it up next to some of the songs by my heroes and give them a good run for their money.”

Alfie’s vocals on Paralysed aside, the album I liked best when researching this was the 2001 follow up to The Man Who, The Invisible Band.  There are many songs that I like, including Side, Pipe Dreams, Flowers in the Window and Indefinitely, but the video I’ve chosen is Sing:

If you know anything about Travis, Sing (along with Why Does it Always Rain On Me?) will more than likely be the song you know – it was a smash hit at the time and has withstood the test of time.  It’s a great song about stepping out of your comfort zone and just doing it – a life lesson I’ve embraced wholeheartedly in the last five years.  Outside the comfort zone is where the magic happens.  It’s a great video too!

Everything At Once (with Paralysed) is available here:

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In fantastic news for Alfie Boe fans in Asia and Australia, I’m delighted to confirm that Alfie will play several dates in Tokyo and Osaka in May 2019.

The dates are as follows:

May 18 – Tokyo International Forum Hall C

May 19 – Tokyo International Forum Hall C

May 21 – Osaka Mielparque Hall

Click here for more information – ticketing information will be released at a later date.

So, who is making plans for the journey already?  Let me know!

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