Classical

The latest in Alfie’s Six Sensational Songs features Janet Baldwin who first found Alfie on Classic FM.  Janet says that “even then his wonderful voice stopped me dead in my tracks on my way out to work!  I actually saw him for the first time on TV on the Classic Brits … and the rest, as they say, is history.”

Here are Janet’s choices:

When You Wish Upon A Star, chosen by Janet because “Alfie’s version of this song helped me back into the real world after a serious illness”,

Torna A Surriento, from Alfie’s appearance at the Michael Ball Prom, Michael gives him a rather long intro and the song starts at 1 min 25.  Janet says that “Spent a happy holiday in Sorrento following in Alfie’s footsteps doing our own La Passione tour, visiting the Amalfi coast.”

Be Still My Soul.  Janet says that this has always been a favourite hymn but “Alfie makes it special”.

In My Daughter’s Eyes – Janet chose this simply because she loves the song – the perfect reason!

Funiculi Funicula, with the Leigh Orpheus Male Voice Choir (one of my favourite videos, In always sing along, or attempt to anyway!) – Janet chose this as she used to enjoy singing this with her local operatic society.

A Thousand Years at Scarborough this summer. Janet says that this “brings back special memories of a rainy night in Scarborough! Looking forward to reuniting with my ‘Boe Buddies’ in December”.

Thanks Janet for sharing your songs with us – again, such a variety of songs represented, with four of Janet’s choices not having been chosen before.

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Number seven in our countdown to find your favourite Alfie Boe live song leads us into the world of classical music once again and is our first and only entry from Serenata:

It is of course the glorious Addio Sogni Di Gloria from Classic FM Live 2014 – I was lucky enough to be there and Alfie blew the audience away.  Magnificent – anyone who was there lives in eternal hope that they’re lucky enough to hear it live again.

The song was voted in at number three in the 2016 poll and number five in this year’s best recorded song poll, although two years ago it reached the top.

 

It seems ages ago now but Classic Quadrophenia in the US has finished and so has our competition to win four programmes signed by Alfie – yes, you’re right in that the original post said three, but another one came back to the UK with Annie.  Thanks so much to Roberta, Cecelia and Annie for getting Alfie to sign them and to Linda A for passing the last one from A to B.

With further ado, the winners are:

Angie Pells

Kate Devaney

Diane Lilga

Jennifer Parr

Well done ladies, please send me your address via the contact page – click here.

Alfie and Michael yesterday released a video of Maria as part of the West Side Story Medley from Together Again:

Wonder if this will be their song on Strictly this year?  No idea if they will appear but it’s a great slot for autumn album releases and they already have their dancing set up!

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It’s been a while since we looked at Six Sensational Songs and with so much happening in the next few months, it might be a while until we feature the series again, so let’s go into the weekend with six fantastic songs chosen by Kathryn Richards.  Kathryn has been following Alfie since first seeing him on Parkinson in 2007.

Stranger in Paradise, was chosen because it was indeed the first time Kathryn heard or saw Alfie and the song that made her fall in love.

E Lucevan E Stelle, chosen because this was the second time Kathryn saw Alfie and as he was singing opera, she thought “wow what a voice”.

God Give Me Strength, chosen because “I love this song and the video of him at the Scottish Proms was really good.”

Marechiari, chosen by Kathryn because “it always puts a smile on my face, a very catchy tune”.

Torna A Sorriento, chosen because “it transports me to Italy, a great summer song”.

Agnus Dei, chosen after Kathryn ” bought You’ll Never Walk Alone CD and the lovely haunting sound to Alfie’s voice gives me goosebumps and tears.”

I’m still astounded that fans continue to add new songs to our Six Sensational Songs playlist; of Kathryn’s six, four have not been chosen before.

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With ten weeks to go until the start of Alfie Boe and Michael Ball’s Together Again tour, it’s time to count down Alfie’s ten best live songs, as voted for by you in 2017.  There are a few new entrants to the top ten and one or two surprises but the first in our countdown is O Sole Mio / It’s Now or Never from the Diamond Jubilee concert in 2012:

For many years, O Sole Mio would have been a song extremely well known to Alfie and he was still performing it well into 2012, albeit with a bit of Elvis thrown in.  Here’s the master himself:

A different arrangement of It’s Now or Never featured on the Storyteller album but was never performed live.  This song has long been a favourite with fans and cemented this with an appearance at number nine in the 2016 Best Live Song poll.  It has also been chosen twice in our semi regular Six Sensational Songs series.

O Sole Mio was written in 1898 and has been recorded and performed by huge numbers of people, making it one of the most famous Neapolitan songs around.  Alfie himself sang it on his 2007 album La Passione although that hasn’t stopped him having to explain that it’s not about ice cream to UK audiences – for those of you outside our sunny shores, the tune of O Sole Mio was the theme of Cornetto ice cream TV adverts for a ten year period in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Sorry – I just couldn’t resist putting it in!

O Sole Mio is available on La Passione:

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It’s competition time again – this time we have three Classic Quadrophenia programmes signed by Alfie Boe to give away.  All you have to do is answer this question:

Who conducted the five performances of Classic Quadrophenia in the US?

The competition is now closed.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at Alfie in Classic Quad:

Good luck!

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Classic Quadrophenia in the USA came to a close on Saturday night at the Greek Theatre, LA.  Luckily, our roving US reporter, Roberta Kappus was on hand to review for us.

As the saying goes “Alfie never disappoints” and he certainly didn’t at The Greek Theatre.  He came bounding onto the stage to applause with the same enthusiasm and energy as his first night at Tanglewood and accelerated from there.  From the beginning Alfie tried to encourage the audience to join in singing but this audience was a little more laid back as although some joined in, most were happy to enjoy Alfie’s singing.  I hasten to add this was not indicative of any lack of appreciation of Alfie’s performance; there was more applause for Alfie throughout the show than at any other venue I attended.  The Real Me, his opening song, was interrupted by applause three or four times. In addition to noteworthy shouts and applause there were scattered standing ovations at the ends of many songs. It seemed as though Alfie was reading the audience very well and the audience seemed happy with Alfie as applause and shouts of approval came throughout the show.  The audience seemed especially appreciative of Alfie’s punctuation of songs with dramatic arm gestures along with all the legwork.  Alfie’s exertions were in no way inhibited by the warmth on the stage.  It was not a large stage and the orchestra seemed a bit cramped.  Alfie wiped his brow numerous times, finished at least one water bottle which he tossed into the crowd and during the second half stripped off his jacket, tossing that aside.

Only professional cameras were prohibited and when Billy Idol made his entrance so many phones went up you could not even see the stage.  Alfie and Billy played off each other very well in their duets, with both snarling.  Pete was greeted with a standing ovation as has been the case since the beginning of the tour.  His dancing with Alfie went up a level at The Greek with all the steps being very pronounced followed by several twirls.  His guitar playing was once again masterful.

My take on Alfie as a performer is that he puts a lot of thought into his performance and keeps on thinking about it and adjusting throughout the run. It is one of the reasons that I can see the same show multiple times.  It simply isn’t the same show even though the words and the songs are the same.  With Classic Quad this was best exemplified in Love Reign O’er Me.  Alfie fills this song with such physical and vocal intensity that there does not seem room for adjustment and yet he finds ways.  At the Met he sank to his knees and leaned back on the final “Love” in the song. At The Greek Alfie walked out onto a darkened stage during the symphonic introduction, crouched down in the very front and centre of the stage, stayed there unmoving and then began singing from that position.  After he had sung several bars he rose to a standing position and continued with what seemed like an added intensity to the final “Love”. The audience responded with thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

Thus ends five performances of Classic Quadrophenia in two weeks. From the first to the last Alfie gave totally outstanding performances.  His singing was superb; the emotion he poured into song after song incredible; the power of his voice at each performance remarkable.  Without a doubt Alfie owns this role.

Thank you once again to Roberta for a fabulous review, the next best thing to being there.

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With the Together Again tour coming ever closer, and the Australian tour even closer, it’s time to find out which song is really the fans favourite.  Thank you to everyone who sent in their nominations, we have six new songs added to the list.  Will last year’s winner, Run, win again?

To help you decide, here is the playlist of all the songs nominated:

Get voting – you should be able to vote multiple times!

Voting will close at the end of next week and we’ll begin counting down shortly after!

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This weekend saw the second and third performances of Pete Townshend’s Classic Quadrophenia, this time at The Met in New York.  Just prior to this, Alfie and Pete appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, an appearance that gained Alfie a whole lot more fans, judging by the social media reaction.

For those of us not lucky enough to be there, our regular New York reporter, Roberta Kappus was in attendance and has sent us her review.  This time, however, it’s a joint effort with Annie Lloyd and another regular reviewer, Cecelia Powell.

Saturday 9 September marked Alfie Boe’s debut at the Met and it was amazing.  The vehicle, Pete Townshend’s Classic Quadrophenia, is unusual for the Met but with a symphony orchestra and choir conducted by Robert Ziegler and the power and range of Alfie Boe’s voice there is no doubt that the setting was right.  The audience not only agreed but enthusiastically showed their appreciation throughout the show.  People had come from thousands of miles and different countries to be at there and it was a diverse group: Robert Ziegler fans, Pete Townshend fans, Billy Idol fans, Alfie Boe fans and those who just really liked Classic Quadrophenia.

Alfie’s entrance was both typical Alfie and unique to Saturday’s show. He came bounding on stage at break neck speed, punching the air, jumping and leaping, going right into The Real Me.  The audience loved it – the applause was instantaneous at Alfie’s appearance and at least five times during this song alone, the audience burst into further applause.  Throughout, Alfie was in constant motion, completely owning the stage.  He covered the whole area, moving left to right and back again and it’s a big stage.  His jumping was spectacular, with legs going in different directions. That got a tremendous response.  Alfie’s voice has never been stronger.  Every word was clear.  All the notes hit perfectly. This was Alfie in his element giving everything he had.  There was no sign he was pacing himself for two nights in a row.

Not too long into the show the audience became part of the performance. Clapping with the music was encouraged and every time Alfie held out the microphone the audience responded.  And in typical Alfie fashion he had the audience on its feet dancing along with the music.  The audience was loving Alfie and Alfie was loving them back. F*@k  was delivered at full force with Alfie at the front of the stage and a great deal of accompaniment by all of us. There was a slight mishap with Helpless Dancer which just added to a memorable evening.  Alfie started with words from the middle of the song! This is sung with Pete who just continued on from where Alfie had begun, although as Alfie realised his error,  he stopped singing and cued Ziegler to start again.  To paraphrase Alfie if you are going to mess up make sure you do it at the Met. Turning to face the audience he loudly pronounced “I’m fired.”  It was all handled very well and with great confidence by Alfie. There was no awkwardness involved and Alfie began the song again this time with the correct words and the audience applauding.

As can be expected, Billy’s entrance  was greeted by loud applause and Pete’s appearance earned thunderous applause and a standing ovation.  Pete was more intense than I have seen him in prior performances even breaking into a monstrous air guitar routine to the delight of all and mimicked Alfie’s dance steps as he had the prior Saturday at Tanglewood.  Over the two years since the world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall, the relationship between Pete and Alfie seems to have moved on.  At RAH Pete was the boss; Now, while Alfie may still be in awe of him they are clearly friends.  Ziegler had his share of fans in the audience with a number of people standing and applauding when he first appeared on stage.

Finally, as the orchestra began the intro to Love Reign O’er Me it seemed as though there was a collective intake of breath from the audience in anticipation.  Alfie more than nailed it.  It was the best any of us have ever heard.  The lushness of the orchestration, the richness and power of Alfie’s voice combined with the majesty of the Met made this the perfect venue for the song and it was more than appropriate that Alfie put his whole being into singing this. A thunderous standing ovation followed. It was truly an honour to be at there.

Thank you Roberta, Cecelia and Annie for a wonderful review – and let’s face it, it wouldn’t be Alfie if he didn’t mess up somewhere or other!

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Saturday 2 September was the first date on the five date US tour of Pete Townshend’s Classic Quadrophenia. Two years on from the world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall, the show bounded onto the US stage at Tanglewood and featured the Boston Pops orchestra and choir, conducted by Keith Lockhart (Robert Ziegler, original conductor of both the concert and recording, will replace Lockhart for the remaining dates).  This concert was something that many US fans had hoped fervently would happen and our regular stateside reporter, Roberta Kappus, was among them.  Here is her review:

It was apparent early on that the audience was familiar with both Quadrophenia and it’s classical partner as  they not only knew all the words but also the music as evidenced by the applause  and verbal approval at several points before the vocals began.  I love the orchestration.  It is lush, lavish, rich and Lockhart and the Boston Pops did it justice. The audience showed its knowledge and appreciation throughout by cheering and applauding as certain segments achieved the anticipated expression and/or punch.

People had driven hundreds of miles to see this. They had come from other countries. For most of them Pete Townshend and Billy Idol were the drawing cards; Boe was an unknown quantity even though a Classic Quadrophenia album had been released two years earlier. Reflecting this, both Townshend and Idol were greeted on stage by thunderous applause.  However, with the power of his voice and intense energy Boe held his own when performing with these two giants; indeed, as Townshend has said on several occasions most of the vocal work falls to Boe.  The mutual respect Townshend, Idol and Boe have for each other was palpable during the performance. As someone else commented, we watched “…a world class tenor slide on his knees across a stage ending up at Pete’s feet.” It was an evening filled with amazing moments and this was one of them.

It was also an evening marked at certain points with camaraderie and just plain fun.  Part of Boe’s choreography is a side to side bounce going from one foot to the other.  This, along with other jumps and spins that Boe has frequently incorporated into other performances propelled Boe around the stage last night with Townshend and even Lockhart joining in from the podium.  Townshend went so far as to add a ballet spin with one arm curved over his head at the end of a side stepping moment and then gave Boe a kiss on the forehead before leaving the stage.  When I saw Boe at the stage door after the show (he was kind enough to stop and sign programmes and tickets) I asked him if he had had as much fun on stage as it seemed. He responded that this performance had been a lot of fun for all of them.

Looking back it almost seemed as though the first half had been a test which Boe and Lockhart had passed.  After the intermission they returned to the stage together to huge applause which had not been there at the start of the programme.  During the second half the audience was more than ready to help by singing the rest of the songs. Anyone familiar with Boe knows he loves audience participation and this was no different.  He was signalling with hand gestures for people to join in which they did; the audience was singing the choir’s parts, Boe was responding and everyone was having a good time.  Lockhart even joined in, clapping along while conducting.

Climaxing the show was Love Reign O’er Me with its brilliant symphonic intro.  Boe’s vocal power and range, his intensity, his immersion into the part resulted in a performance that can only be described as an unequalled tour de force that brought the audience to its feet where they remained through the curtain call, the presentation of the flowers to all the principals (with everyone but Fuller and Lockhart tossing them into the audience) and the encore which was The Real Me with everyone on stage singing it.  The standing ovation continued through everyone’s departure from the stage including the orchestra and choir. It was as though a spell had been cast over everyone inside the Shed and no one wanted to be the first one to break it.

Wow, what a fabulous review Roberta, sounds like everyone had a great time…and I’m sure Alfie came away with a lot of new fans.  Here’s a short video from the evening:

Classic Quadrophenia is available here:

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