Music

Over half way through the year and as time counts down to Alfie’s upcoming appearances with Pete Townshend and Billy Idol in Classic Quadrophenia across the pond, we turn to an American fan, Nancy Webb for her choice of six favourite Alfie Boe songs.  I first met Nancy on the Serenata tour of 2014 when she and some fellow US fans joined us for a memorable train ride to Cardiff for the last night of that tour.  Two near misses with missing passengers (both going and returning!) and lots and lots of chat and giggles accompanied by my mum’s mince pies frame the memories of that wonderful trip.  Let’s look at Nancy’s choices:

Nessun Dorma, in Matt Lucas’s kitchen.  Nancy says “This was the first song that came up on Google after I saw Alfie in the 25th Anniversary concert. Alfie’s power stunned me again but the humour and gentle humanity of the man won my heart.”

Addio Sogni Di Gloria.  Nancy says “What can I say. I just love it! Alfie could blow the roof off a building when he sings this one. I voted for it as my favourite of the year in the last contest.”  It was a very worthy winner in 2016!

Stranger in Paradise, Parkinson – Nancy says “Another stunner! He was so young, so handsome and so amazing. Several people have said over the years that this was the performance that made them fans (pre Les Mis days). I already loved his voice, but this made me sit up and pat myself on the back for having excellent taste. He is just great here.”

Amazing Grace (starts 14m 21).  Nancy says the song is”a personal favourite since I was a teenager, but no one had ever sung it the way I wanted to hear it…missing notes, straining to hit the highs, flat etc. When I saw the old video of Alfie fronting for the Fron Male Voice Choir and he started to sing this, I actually had tears in my eyes. No problem hitting the high notes and then going higher….just beautiful. Not to be morbid, but I have asked my daughter to play this at my funeral (many years from now, of course)”.

Rank Stranger – Nancy says “I can not get over the absolute silence in the auditoriums/arenas when he sings this…not a cough or a shuffle, hardly a breath. When he finishes, there is a second more of silence as people come back to earth and then the applause. It is just wonderful!”

Agnus Dei – Nancy says “the crystal clarity/purity of this song makes me catch my breath every time I play it. I have it on his You’ll Never Walk Alone compilation, but did not find out where he recorded it originally until much later. That CD, Eternal Light: A Requiem, is so very beautiful, and Alfie could make an angel cry with happiness.

Thanks Nancy for letting us share your six sensational songs – the thing I love most about this series is enjoying songs and videos from the past, it’s been a while since I saw the one from the days when Alfie supported the Fron Male Voice Choir.

If you would to share your favourite Alfie songs with us, fill in the form!

…songs from his debut album, Classic FM Presents:

I would dearly love to hear Alfie sing these arias again to hear how his voice has matured.  We did hear Nessun Dorma on the Serenata tour of 2014 and Alfie has sung the odd aria over the years but I still want to hear more!

The latest in our series of Alfie Boe sensational songs comes from Lee Kelly.  Lee first became aware of Alfie shortly after the 25th anniversary Les Mis concert and was spellbound.  She’s since been lucky enough to see him live a few times and met him in New York on 28 February last year. In her words, she was a “quivering wreck”! These are Lee’s choices:

Trust, chosen simply because Lee loves the album.

Wayfaring Stranger – love the fun Alfie’s having in this video!  Lee chose this song because of the “haunting words”.

Tell Me It’s Not True, chosen as “Blood Brothers is my husband’s favourite musical and hearing Alfie sing Tell Me It’s Not True is wonderful”,

Run – Lee chose this as she has “always liked this song and Alfie takes it to another level”.

Bring Him Home, chosen as Lee says “Alfie makes every hair stand on end every time I hear him sing this” – I think we all agree!

Rank Stranger

Thanks for sharing your favourite songs with us Lee.

If you would like to share your favourite Alfie songs with us, please fill in the form!

Against the Tide, an original song at Leeds Millennium Square:

This is the only time we have heard this song and every time I listen to it, I love it more – Alfie is having the time of his life and revels in teaching the audience to sing it.  Alfie fans are a talented bunch of people!

To my mind, this song suits Alfie down to the ground and would have fitted perfectly on his 2013 album, Trust.  I wonder if we will ever hear this song again, either live or on a future solo album?  Please, Alfie, please!  One thing’s for sure, Alfie never does anything remotely predictable so the direction of his next solo album could be absolutely anything!

 

What do Simon and Garfunkel have in common with En Vogue, the all female group from the early 1990’s?  Well, they were two of the artists cited as musical influences by British female duo The Sound of the Sirens when I interviewed them recently.  At first glance, it’s difficult to see the similarity between En Vogue and Exeter based Sirens, aka Abbe and Hannah, whose sound is more acoustic pop than R&B, but it’s the harmonies that inspire, along with Destiny’s Child and the aforementioned Simon and Garfunkel.

It seems that Abbe and Hannah’s musical influences are multi layered and eclectic; song writing inspirations are Oasis, Mumford and Sons, Nirvana and Coldplay amongst others. Listening to the Sirens debut album, For All Our Sins, these song writing influences are immediately apparent: the influence of Mumford and Sons is easily detected and Abbe and Hannah cite them as their major influence.  The writing process takes place both together and alone and is aided by lots of dog walking!  Abbe and Hannah each have a dog (Maggie and Taio) and like to listen to songs recorded on their phones whilst out walking – sounds idyllic, doesn’t it?

For All Our Sins is an album that delivers upbeat, sweet melodies that beguile you, whilst at the same time, sharp lyrics speak to us of strong emotions, the sadness that life can bring and finding strength and positivity to get through.  Abbe and Hannah hope that by doing this, they can “help others to deal with the same issues”.   Chaos and Together Alone are my favourite tracks, along with their first single, Smokescreen:

It’s when listening to the lyrics and the overall sound that you hear the influence of all the other female singers and songwriters that have gone before.  The likes of Pink, Alanis Morrissette, Laura Marling and even Gloria Estefan further influenced the Sirens.  Going back to En Vogue and Destiny’s Child, it’s easy to see that it’s not only the harmonies that inspire, but also the women themselves – after all, there are still relatively few all female groups making music successfully.

As with all independent musicians, I was interested to find out why Abbe and Hannah chose to go the indie route and it turns out that Sirens are a perfect match with DMF Records as they are both Exeter based and both Abbe and Hannah said that working with them was “just like family.  We can pop in for a cuppa and chat, it’s great”.   As for the future, the Sirens will continue to frequently play live and hope to record another album in the next year or so – they already have some new material written.

Lastly, the title of this piece is Sins of Sound of the Sirens and you might ask what sins?  I concur, Abbe and Hannah are far too lovely to have many sins.  The title of the album comes from the lyrics of Cross Our Hearts and was chosen by the duo’s brothers – and they like it as “it can mean anything”!

For All Our Sins is available here:

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Land of Hope and Glory with Annette Wardell at Alive @ Delapre:

Alfie can be seen sporting his Jean Valjean haircut for Les Miz Broadway in this video – do we like?  I’d completely forgotten that they sang this twice as we weren’t enthusiastic enough – and I’d also forgotten Alfie’s comments about what to wave!!!  This was my last concert that summer and the first time I took my son, 9 at the time.  He had a lovely time right up until Alfie started singing although he couldn’t help himself from singing along to quite a lot of the songs!

Land of Hope and Glory is of course heard annually at the Last Night of the Proms and was also England’s national anthem for the Commonwealth Games until 2010 – for those who have no idea about these games, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales compete as separate nations, hence the need for a different national anthem.  It was also included at the end of a number of Alfie’s 2015 summer concerts, either in those officially labelled as ‘Proms’ concerts or not.

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A couple of weeks ago I told you about the new fundraising initiative for Trinity Hospice, Get Together.  As one of Alfie’s charities (he is patron), his fans are more than happy to support Trinity in their annual push to raise £5 million and this year was no different, with a number of fans ‘getting together’ to raise money by taking part in an Alfie Boe YouTube marathon.  Held over the weekend, lots of fun was had by watching various videos and donating (a perfect excuse to sit and watch Alfie!).  The event started with a boost as Alfie had very kindly sent us a message wishing us well:

Thank you so much for getting together to raise money for Trinity. As a Patron, I hold the Hospice very dear to my heart and your contributions will ensure their brilliant work continues – good luck with the marathon! Lots of love Alfie x

 

 

Thanks Alfie – we did really well, raising an amazing £442! Wow!  Thank you to everyone who took part and donated – Trinity are absolutely thrilled with the amount.

The videos that ended up in the playlist (all fifty one of them!) can all be found here:

The YouTube marathon is ended now but if you would still like to donate to Trinity in Alfie’s name then click here.

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The summer tour is over but no need to cry because we are in the rather unusual position of having lots to look forward to!  Performances in three countries, a new album, we’re in danger of being rather spoilt in the latter half of 2017.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at six more sensational songs, this time from Karen Rogers.  I first met Karen, very briefly, at a Storyteller album signing in London’s Oxford Street and since then we have run into each other at several concerts, culminating in a memorable evening in Bournemouth last year.  Ball and Boe were the warm up act for an absolutely hilarious evening with our Boe Buddies – how many Alfie Boe fans can you get into a single hotel room was the name of the game!  Here are Karen’s six songs:

A Living Prayer, which appears in this series for the fourth time now.  Karen says “I’m not religious in any shape or form but absolutely love this song. The words, even as a non believer are so very beautiful. The video that accompanies the song is lovely too and adds to the emotion.”

Bring Him Home at the 25th anniversary concert.  Karen says that she chose it because “as Alfie’s signature song how could I not include it? However the reason I chose it was because of the memories it evokes. I never thought I would get to see Alfie, live, in Les Miserables but when he announced he would be reprising the role in New York I knew I had to get there. I went with the lovely Carole Hunt and we saw him 4 times. Each time was as special as the first. The picture in my head of him sat at the barricade with Marius at his side asleep as he sings it brings tears to my mind every time. Very special times.”  We don’t have footage of his stage appearances so I chose this video as the next best thing.

Doctor Jimmy, from Classic Quadrophenia – what a fabulous evening that was.  Karen says “I absolutely love this song for the totally shallow reason that Alfie says the f’ word!!! I know its awful to admit but I do. The raw emotion as he swears is amazing. As the wife of a Who fan who was totally bowled over by Alfie’s performance at the RAH I cannot put into words how special it all was.”

Run – Karen’s choice because “it’s a fabulous song with wonderful words but given the Alfie Boe treatment becomes an all time great anthem.”

It’s Only Love – another song that gets me up and dancing every time!  Karen chose it as she “absolutely adored Alfie on the Storyteller Tour. It is as a Rock God that I adore him the most.His performance of the song as he charged from side of the stage to the other, jumping on the speakers in those tight jeans was sublime.”

O Sole Mio / Now or Never at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  Karen says “again it shows his versatility as he goes from classic to rock and roll. The highlight for me of the Queens Jubilee. Rocking out in his tight black jeans (I do love him in tight jeans!) and lovely black shirt. Doing what no one expected him to do and bringing the house down in the process. Fantastic!”

Thanks Karen for six very different choices – I love seeing the songs people choose and the reasons why.  If you would like to see your six songs here, just fill in the form:

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Come What May with Sophie Evans at Llangollen:

Two years ago, Alfie was performing at several festivals, much as he has just done with Michael Ball, and Come What May was again part of his repertoire, albeit usually as a solo.  In Llangollen though, the song was performed as a duet with Sophie Evans, who was also on the bill for that event; Sophie had also appeared with Alfie at Singleton Park earlier a few weeks previously.

Come What May is of course from Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge, one of my favourite films of all time – who doesn’t love a film that you can sing along to, swoon over Ewan McGregor and then have a good cry at the end?  Alfie has sung this song with a variety of partners over the years, from poll winner Rebecca Newman to, at the other end of the scale, Mel C but the one that sticks in my mind the most is Laura Wright from the Bring Him Home tour:

I’m sure I’m not the only one who loved Alfie and Laura together!

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Alfie Boe and Michael Ball are certainly enjoying a period of unalloyed success with Together.  Fresh from a short summer tour, preceded by a sellout winter tour in 2016 and the platinum success of the album of the same name, Ball and Boe will take the show to Australia in October:

QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane – 5 October

Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne – 7 October

State Theatre, Sydney – 11 October

AEC Theatre, Adelaide – 14 October

Crown Theatre, Perth – 16 October

 

General tickets go on sale Friday 7 July  – click here.  Meet and greet opportunities will be available as well so this is your chance to get up close and personal!