Classical

Hot on the heels of Scarborough, Alfie Boe took his short summer tour to Llangollen, opening the annual Eistedfodd.  Roberta Kappus and Annie Lloyd were there for us.

In brief, Llangollen was brilliant! It was the fifth and final summer concert and Alfie saved the best for last. We had songs from Alfie’s new album, songs from La Passione and Serenata, songs from Classic Quad, songs from the Together albums and a lot of cheering when England beat Colombia plus a few bars from We’re Coming Home.  Following the win Alfie was so elated he pronounced Llangollen the best gig ever and more than enthusiastically went into his next song, You’re The Voice, which had been interrupted by the win. Showing his ability to follow football while delivering a masterful performance Alfie did not miss one word or note,  turning on a stage monitor showing the game and then with no hesitation going right into Swing.

The set list was a partial departure from the previous four shows. Taking the audience and the ambience of the festival into consideration he enthralled all with Bring Him Home followed by seven Italian songs, primarily from La Passione and Serenata: A Vuchella featuring Pete on guitar, Parlami D’amore Mariu, Mamma, Chitarra Romana, Volare with the usual very long note, Mambo Italiano and Buona Sera. The audience was up and dancing, clapping to the music and singing along especially with Volare and Mambo Italiano. During this segment Alfie stated that he had found new ways to sing some of the songs and if we send back our old cds he would re-record them for us. Of course he got a laugh.

The second half began with the usual audience involvement in Keep Me in Your Heart. Sir Terry Waite, seated in the centre of the front row was given the honour of being singled out as the male soloist, a role he graciously accepted to cheers from all.  Tom Petty’s Wild Flowers, first sung at Scarborough remained on the list as did many of the familiar songs.  I’m One took the place of The Real Me. The show ended with a very powerful Love Reign O’er Me which received and deserved a standing ovation.  Alfie quickly followed this up by returning for the encore and asking if we wanted another Who song. The approval was thunderous with people shouting out various Who songs. Alfie went with Baba O’Riley which was greeted with massive approval. The final song was, of course, Run.

The band was outstanding. They very smoothly transitioned from New Orleans jazz as Alfie calls it to the soothing rhythms of the Italian songs to the country music to the Who. They were just brilliant. Throughout it all the audience was in complete approval of everything sung. It is interesting to note that given Llangollen’s reputation, Bring Him Home received a partial standing ovation while all were on their feet to applaud Love Reign O’er Me. There is no doubt that the audience adored Alfie right from the beginning and were with him all the way through. Alfie was obviously having a great time despite the heat. The tent was very warm and the stage even warmer. Alfie went from jacket to just shirt at the beginning of the second half to pulling his shirt out towards the end. Following the final bows Alfie appeared reluctant to leave the stage wandering around a bit before finally exiting.

Together Alfie and the Llangollen audience proved that music has no boundaries. As Alfie said “it is the same notes in different order”. An evening to be treasured and remembered.

Thank you so much Roberta and Annie – let’s hope we see this repertoire at some point in the future!

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A summer evening – albeit a chilly evening – was spent in the grounds of Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath, London in the company of Alfie Boe and his fabulous band, not to mention fabulous friends in the form of Linda A, Linda W, Jayne, Cecelia, Roberta, Annie, Pauline, Jean and Claire.

Alfie’s set was almost the same as at Kelvingrove and Fleetwood, with a couple of differences and at least one new addition, to the encore.  Led Zeppelin’s Going To California was a new song, and Linda W was in seventh heaven (listen carefully and you can hear her gasps of delight at the beginning):

Alfie was, as usual, in fine voice and had all the energy you might expect from a performer at the top of his game and clearly having the time of his life.  I seem to write that sentence fairly often these days, but with every new concert, he just gets better and better and to me, it seems that he never takes his good fortune for granted, which unfolds as seemingly relentless energy on stage.  Just watching the energy on stage exhausts the audience, never mind Alfie himself!

Highlights were The Way You Look Tonight from his forthcoming album, Bring Him Home (very emotional this time), The Who section, particularly Pinball Wizard and the country section.  I love all those songs and having only discovered Wagon Wheel last year, via Alfie, I especially love the joy the band bring to that song.  The songs from Together and Together Again had the crowd singing along and of course we celebrated Ball and Boe’s double BRIT win too. However, the undoubted stand out song was Bring Me Sunshine; Alfie was joined on stage by the children of the Rays of Sunshine choir and they were magnificent:

They were all wonderful and I’m pleased to say that the audience were able to help bring joy and laughter into the lives of seriously ill children by giving to the collecting buckets available.  If anyone wasn’t able to give at the concert and would like to help, click here to donate.

I’m happy to say that I saw Alfie before the show and he obligingly signed some more competition bits so make sure you’re a subscriber to get first dibs on entries – coming soon!

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The success of Alfie Boe and Michael Ball continued last night as, on a star studded evening at the Classic BRIT Awards 2018, they won two (count em!) awards!  With a one hundred percent success rate, they won in each category they were nominated for:

 

 

and

 

As we know, Album of the Year was voted for by the public and it was clear that both Alfie and Michael were thrilled to win on this basis.  However, Group of the Year was decided by a BRIT award panel and I for one, felt so pleased that Alfie and Michael’s work was recognised by their industry peers.

It was an extra special night too, for Decca Records, for as well as the two Ball and Boe awards, they also won with Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Jess Gillam (Sound of Classical) and Renee Fleming, not to mention the lifetime recognition for Dame Vera Lynn.  Both Kanneh-Mason and Gillam joined Tokio Myers and Andrew Lloyd Webber in calling for greater recognition of the value that music education in schools brings to children’s lives, a subject that Alfie has also commented on in the past, through his work with Nordoff Robbins.

The musical performances throughout the evening were superb, with the stand outs being the opening West Side Story medley with Alfie and Michael, Katherine Jenkins’ Never Enough and Bryn Terfel’s two performances of If I Were A Rich Man and the Pearl Fishers duet with Andrea Bocelli.

Thank you to everyone who voted and shared the Classic FM voting site over the last few weeks – give yourselves a pat on the back because you did it!

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…the Pearl Fishers Duet with David Kempster:

Although this duet, Au Fond Du Temple Saint, is a concert staple for baritones and tenors, the song is of course from Bizet’s 1863 opera, The Pearl Fishers.  It is this opera, in the 2009/10 ENO season that gives us the memorable opening from Alfie’s autobiography: “Bizet nearly killed me.  I don’t blame him, it’s not his fault.” Alfie was talking about the chlorine poisoning he suffered whilst preparing for the show, which became, as it happens, one of his last for ENO – Les Miserables 25th anniversary concert was just around the corner.

Set in ancient times on the island of Sri Lanka, the opera tells the story of how two men’s vow of eternal friendship is threatened by their love for the same woman, whose own dilemma is the conflict between secular love and her sacred oath as a priestess.  After the initial premiere, The Pearl Fishers was not performed again until 1886 and since the mid twentieth century has become one of the most popularly staged operas worldwide.  ENO has restaged twice more since Alfie took the role of Nadir.

Lovers of Alfie Boe’s classical repertoire will also be familiar with his South Bank Award performance of this, with Bryn Terfel in 2011.  Alfie has performed very little opera since then but as he caught us all by surprise on the Serenata tour of 2013, by singing Nessun Dorma, Recondita Armonia and Caruso, never say never to hearing it again one day.  With Alfie, you just never know what to expect.

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Alfie has just begun a hectic schedule of events with two nights at the Boston Pops – and regular guest reviewer, Roberta Kappus was there for us.  Here is what happened on Tuesday:

How can you not be totally entranced by a man who gives his all to every performance, whether it be for five minutes or two hours? Rock the Pops may have been a Boston Pops production but there is no doubt that the star was Alfie Boe.  Alfie rocked Boston brilliantly, totally deserving Keith Lockhart’s praise as “the most absurdly versatile musician I’ve ever met.”  We all knew that about Alfie but it was nice of Lockhart to acknowledge it.

The opening featured some Pete Townshend songs, starting with Baba O’Riley.  Appropriately Alfie’s next two songs were from Classic Quadrophenia which Alfie and Lockhart had performed at Tanglewood.  Perhaps to show the significance of Quad Alfie wore the same outfit as he had during that tour including the pin on the jacket.  His songs were 5:15 which was amazing and Love Reign O’er Me, performed with an intensity that only Alfie can achieve. Then a switch to The Rolling Stones and You Can’t Always Get What You Want and Sympathy for the Devil. Hauntingly beautiful and indicative of Alfie’s versatility was Nights In White Satin done as an instrumental with Alfie offstage over voicing it.  As usual, intermission came much too soon. The whole show went way too fast as is usually the case with Alfie’s performances.

The second half featured Led Zeppelin’s Goin’ To California, Who Wants To Live Forever (stunningly beautiful), We Are the Champions and the encore Sweet Home Alabama. With both We Are the Champions and Sweet Home, Alfie vigorously signalled to the audience to join him in singing and to get out of their seats; they did both. Standing ovations followed.

The Symphony Hall is a rather intimate venue and Alfie showed his ability to adapt to any environment.  He did not have the full stage for his performance but only the section that would comprise the very centre stage.  Alfie made full use of this area, bounding from one side to the other and constantly going to the edge of the stage and waving to familiar faces in the audience. There is no doubt that Alfie loves performing and certainly enjoys his audience. He includes them whenever possible and shows it throughout every performance.

Thank you Alfie Boe for an evening that only could have come from you.

Fabulous review Roberta – thank you!

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From last week’s new entry into the top ten Alfie Boe Live Songs 2018, we now have a song in it’s second year of the chart but one that has made a huge impact on both singer and audience.  Love Reign O’er Me jumped into second place in 2017 after first jumping into our lives at the world premiere of Classic Quadrophenia in 2015:

Since then, the song has rarely been missing from Alfie’s live repertoire and never fails to thrill audiences; his voice is perfected matched to the notes and and the emotional intensity required.  The vast majority of Who fans have been won over by Alfie’s interpretation of Love Reign and it’s always a pleasure to see new fans find and appreciate Alfie.  Here is the original, at Live Aid:

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Song number seven in our countdown to the Alfie Boe’s best live song in 2018 is one from that wonderful summer of 2012 and Alfie’s appearance at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations:

I was a new fan to Alfie’s music then and I well remember lots of Twitter users voicing concerns over the sound quality – until Alfie started singing that is!  After that, everyone watching realised that there was nothing wrong with the sound system – and the tweets also highlighted Alfie’s hip swinging antics…most appreciatively, I add.

This is the highest place so far for O Sole Mio / Now or Never, since the song first appeared in this poll in 2016.  O Sole Mio goes a long way back for Alfie and he has performed it many times over the years although only for a period of twelve months or so in conjunction with Now or Never. Now or Never, of course, is a version of O Sole Mio, first recorded by Elvis and went on to be his second best selling single. The song went on to feature (albeit in a completely different arrangement) on Alfie’s Storyteller album – I loved that arrangement but I’m not sure too many other fans did; it’s never been flagged as anyone’s favourite song, for example).

Storyteller is available here:

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A few weeks ago, in response to fan photos of meet and greet opportunities with Alfie Boe, we looked at two stories in more depth.  In a second instalment, here are two more stories, from Cathy Rogers Sarabia (my birthday twin) and Julie Connolly.  Here is Cathy’s story:

I’ve met Alfie several times at stage doors and M&Gs, and he always shows up smiling, courteous, generous, and so funny! My first time was in London for his birthday party back in 2011, before Les Mis at The Queens Theatre and after we sang to him, he recommended we work on our singing. The last time was in NYC at The Metropolitan Opera House after Classic Quadrophenia, and when he flashed me that smile of recognition and waved to my daughter hiding in the back, my heart nearly melted. In between those two times were, I don’t know 10 or 11 more meetings, from Broadway theatres, to nightclubs, concert halls, Opera Houses, bookstores; and every time he amazes me with his kindness to fans and seeming shock and surprise that he is loved so much by so many people. I think my favourite picture with Alfie is from Frederick, Maryland back in 2013. It was a spontaneous decision to stay after that concert and sometimes no preparation is the best preparation!

 

The second story is from Julie in 2015:

My son shared a house with one of Alfie’s nephews. He took me back stage at Leeds Millennium Square. Alfie saw me, stood up and came straight over to talk to me. He was lovely, polite and friendly. I will never forget it!

 

What fabulous stories ladies – and equally fabulous photos too!

If you would like to see your own story featured here, fill in the form:

Please send an accompanying photo to admin@thoughtsofjustafan.com.

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The song to come in at number nine in the Alfie Boe Best Live Song poll 2018 is a very apt choice, since it is a duet with fan favourite Laura Wright and Alfie and Laura were both announced as part of the line up for the By The River Festival last week.

Which song am I talking about?  It is of course, Barcelona, performed at the Freddie for a Day celebrations in September 2013:

Barcelona featured in the very first poll but then disappeared until now.  Perhaps it is because Laura and Alfie’s voices work so well together, as the audience clearly thought so.  Although this is the only footage we have of Alfie and Laura singing this together, Alfie did appear as a guest on Katherine Jenkins’s Home Sweet Home album singing Barcelona and they performed together at the 2014 pre Commonwealth Games concert in Edinburgh:

Barcelona was originally written by Freddie Mercury and Mike Moran and recorded by Mercury (one of Alfie’s favourites) and the Spanish soprano, Montserrat Caballe in 1987. Memorably, it featured heavily during coverage of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Home Sweet Home, featuring Barcelona is available here:

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Another edition in our occasional series of Six Sensational Songs and this time it’s the turn of Audrey Buchan,  Yet again, the strength of Alfie’s repertoire is shown as Audrey has chosen three songs that have not been chosen before.  I have to say that Audrey was a little naughty with her choices – she actually chose seven but one is not available as a video so it was easy to miss out!

If I can Dream, from Storyteller – love this video, as it shows Alfie in his element with such talented musicians.

Shine a Light, also from Storyteller.  

Forever Young, from Trust. A magical evening and the one and only time we have heard Alfie sing practically the whole Trust album.  Alfie was “knackered” at this point as he had previously been dancing, and had half the audience up there with him!

A Living Prayer, Onward – one of our most popular choices in this series.  Beautiful.

Santa Lucia, La Pasione.  To be added to the very long list of songs I would love to hear live.

Addio Sogni Di Gloria, Serenata – another glorious evening at the Royal Albert Hall.

Thank you Audrey for sharing your Six Sensational Songs with us – I really enjoy researching this series!

If you would like to share your Six Sensational Songs with us, please fill in the form:

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