Musicals

The Ball and Boe Together Again tour 2017 finished in style at London’s 02 arena this week and I was very lucky to have a front row seat (courtesy of Claire Shorter) and witnessed one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.  In fact, only Alfie’s solo shows have surpassed it.  My review of the show and the tour in general follow but first we hear from Sarah Buttifant, for whom this was her first concert of the tour:

Just over a year ago I didn’t know who Alfie Boe was. I happened to watch Ball and Boe One Night Only on TV and the sound of his voice gave me goosebumps! Since then I’ve seen him and Michael at one of their summer concerts, I was extremely fortunate to be in the ITV studio for the recording of this years Ball and Boe Back Together and now I’ve seen them live at the 02.

I’ve got to admit I was expecting this concert to be amazing and it did not disappoint. Having deprived myself of spoilers for the two weeks leading up to the concert (no mean feat in itself!) I couldn’t wait to see what the boys had planned. The songs from the new album performed live were brilliant. Bring Me Sunshine, when they brought the children onto the stage was heart melting.

The evening just kept getting better and better. They rocked out with an epic Queen medley and the songs from Les Mis that we’d not heard them sing before were sublime. Their solo songs hit just the right note and the show stopping Wham finale had the whole of the 02 up on its feet. The friendship between these two shines out and their enthusiasm and love for music is completely infectious. I think it’s safe to say I’m addicted – roll on 16th June 2018, Kenwood House here I come.

Thank you so much Sarah for your thoughts – I agree, it was an amazing evening.  Although I had seen the concert in Brighton at the beginning of the tour, I knew that the running order was not necessarily the same and that there were hints of extras for the end of tour, London finale.  The main change for me was the addition of Alfie’s most popular live song of the last two years, Run which had been exchanged for Elton John’s Tiny Dancer after the first two shows.  Another addition was the inclusion of the two choirs, Mountview School and Rays of Sunshine, seen above (that’s me, Linda W and Jayne you can hear oohing and aahing on the video!).  The children were word perfect and totally rocked the stage, melting several thousand hearts along the way – if you want to raise money for them and help get Alfie and Michael to number one for Christmas, then click here.  Mountview students featured in the ITV special in October and more returned to sing alongside Alfie and Michael on Thursday evening; the result was just stunning, as can be seen from You’re The Voice:

Those students are having just the best time with Alfie and Michael, and the feeling’s obviously mutual!  These were my highlights from this concert although Alfie’s Bring Him Home (tears again from me and so emotional for him, singing that back at the 02) and the Wham medley were phenomenal.

My feelings about this tour are nothing but joy – it has been a privilege to witness such warmth, happiness and superb vocals from Alfie and Michael and in my opinion, everyone should see these two perform together at least once…although once would of course never be enough.  Happiness and joy are sometimes in short supply and these two go a long way to getting us there so if you haven’t been lucky enough to see them live, or want to relive the experience, click here to see the a YouTube playlist from the wonderful Linda Wellington.  My personal favourite from this tour is Alfie’s new song, Wagon Wheel:

This gives me the perfect opportunity to thank the wonderful musicians, in particular, Murray Gould, Sam Grimley, John Tonks, Callum McLeod, Neil Angilley, Don Richardson, Marsha Skinns, Ulrika Bergelind, Tor Hills and Emma Osei-Lah.

Thank you to Alfie and Michael for the fabulous music and to everyone I met in Brighton and London – all your messages are really appreciated. Special mentions to Linda Anstee, Linda Wellington, Jayne Templeton, Claire Shorter, Roberta Kappus, Cecelia Powell, Tienne Lockwood, Carole Hunt, Cheryl Stenason, Emma Brimacombe, Gail Slinn, Nicola Lange, Ellen Rook, Leanne Miller, Jo Cassidy, Heather and Jay, Mitsuko and Ayano, Sally Cook, Pat Watterson, Janet Baldwin and Annie Lloyd, not forgetting my guest reviewers Carole Hunt, Pauline Hyland, Heather Crosskey, Heather Moore, Sarah Buttifant, Claire Shorter, Barbara Wren and Kate Griffin. Hopefully I haven’t forgotten anyone but if I have, I’m sorry, it’s been a busy few weeks!

To donate to Rays of Sunshine and propel Ball and Boe to the tip of the singles charts, click here to download Bring Me Sunshine with all star cast.

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The penultimate date of Alfie Boe and Michael Ball’s Together Again 2017 tour was in Nottingham and Heather Moore was there to review it for us:

One word: wow! Alfie and Michael know how to put on a show. The Arena was packed for the duo’s return to Nottingham. Last year they played the Royal Concert Hall three times  and I was lucky to see them twice. I also saw them in Lincoln in the Summer and saw Alfie in the brilliant Carousel at ENO.

It was great to watch the gents tonight and I have to say this is the best I have seen them together; they are always wonderful but tonight they excelled their already high standards.  The show started with a montage of photos of the pair’s travels and backstage the song from Sunset Boulevard fitted the bill perfectly.

The first half had many stand out moments, from The Rose, a duet on Love Changes Everything, He Lives in You from the Lion King and A Thousand Years. I also really liked the song Hero, one I haven’t really played much but will do in future. I also liked You’ll Be Back although it makes me want to spend money on a ticket to see Hamilton.  Alfie and Michael mix classics with more recent hits and both have great taste in music hence the Queen medley. Both also have great banter, with various jokes around The Robin Hood Energy sign (sponsors of the arena) and both swore at times in a good natured way of course. It was very funny and the audience lapped it up. Both gents seemed very at home on the stage and enjoyed wowing the crowd.

The second half was like going onto the second layer of chocolates – the audience wanted more and the audience got much more. The solo spots were fab , Michael’s version of the Impossible Dream gained a standing ovation. Alfie’s version of Wagon Wheel was sublime but his walkabout during Run stole the show. He really wowed the crowd and his performance was heartfelt. Other highlights from both were Bring Me Sunshine and New York, New York.  I enjoyed the Les Miserables medley especially Master of the House and Alfie, you made me sob again during Bring Him Home which was  just perfect. One Day More brought the section to a close and once again I couldn’t help thinking I would like to see Ball’s Javert to Boe’s Val Jean, especially after Michael’s version of Stars, so special too. The pair are so well matched and their sense of fun ending in the Wham Medley is captivating and catching – dancing in the aisle ensued. You could tell Alfie enjoyed tonight and with the final winter show at the O2 the two friends will go separate ways but I hope after the solo projects next year we have a together three. These gentleman are having a blast and this radiates into the audience.  Ten out of Ten.

Thanks for another fabulous review Heather.

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Ball and Boe’s Together Again Tour 2017 moved onto Scotland at the weekend, with the first show in Glasgow.  Here is Pauline Hyland’s review:

Michael and Alfie performed to a full arena on a bitter cold evening and although the audience took a little while to totally warm up and relax and respond, but when they did they were very appreciative and vocal. The show is fast and furious, full of energy but offering a lovely mix of the slow and the fast song, a variety of tone, tempo and content. Covering 33/34 songs the concert covered a cornucopia of emotions, joyous, tear jerking, warmth, amusing, together with dance, repartee and comedy. Credit must go to – yes Michael and Alfie – but also the musicians, the fabulous orchestra, the very glamorous backing girls, the sound technicians and the lighting, projectionists and the creative minds that produced the background screen. Special mention must go to the production of this as each song was beautifully and symbolically portrayed on screen; a real work of art. The highlights for me are the big songs and of course the solos, but every minute Alfie is on the stage is a highlight for me. Does all that sound too good to be true? Well yes there were little mistakes, a few hiccups with sound but all in all an excellent show.

Into the first half and Michael asked Alfie “Are you going to do the plug? Christmas with Ball and Boe 29 December.” Response: “Oh I forgot we are being recorded so I can’t swear”. Two minutes later Alfie to Michael – “ You won’t let me say a bloody thing”. This leads to the scene with the stools, and Michael sending love to Alfie. “ I love this man for a thousand years.” Michael’s hand on Alfie’s leg, as they get to “one step closer”, Alfie’s stool moves. Candle lights on the screen herald the start of yet more banter from Michael – “we have shared everything over the last 18 months”, Alfie’s face is a picture, “in fact “Michael says “there is very little we haven’t shared.” Moment of audience participation, Alfie comment, “we shared a bus, take your hand off my hip”.

Into the second half, and more dialogue from Michael – “Alfie and I enjoyed dancing at the Royal Variety Show at the request of Miranda Hart.” No response from the audience so Alfie turns full face to the audience and says “MIRANDA HART” and only then does the audience respond. Alfie then tries to persuade the audience that he took the lead with the Bolshoi Ballet.  Michael – “Will and Kate send their love “. After two minutes of banter Michael announces that the audience won’t need to see the dance (Manchester he did forget the moves and stood covered in confusion), I know the words he says but not the dance moves.  Alfie “Ladies and Gentlemen I know the words and the dance moves. You want to see the dance?”. Yes of course we did. Bring Me Sunshine was perfectly performed with style and vigour, Michael taking a very low bow on completion, beads of sweat pouring from his brow.

Alfie’s solos spot was a highlight: Alfie entered and walked down stage, guitar in hand followed by “his band”, Murray et al. Alfie’s comment was “how to make an ass of yourself with a guitar”.  After some tongue in cheek sarcastic comments about Michael, he said “ I love him to pieces – that’s support” He then talked about his Dad and the influence on his music and his Dad’s love of country music, finishing up with “playing guitar in opera didn’t work”.  The sound man came on and fiddled at the back of Alfie who moved suggesting he’s had his bum pinched. His guitar connected, he said “now can I press play”.  Wagon Wheel was played and sung beautifully by Alfie, a catchy country song with chorus opportunities for the audience. Alfie took a back seat during the middle of this quietly strumming along as each individual band member was given their bit of solo playing.  Alfie made his intro to his next song a recognition of the work done by all the armed forces past and present and dedicated this performance to them. For Run he asked for torches on phones to be lit and the arena looked amazing. Part way through the song he jumped off the stage and made his way round the theatre. Sadly though the screen showed him singing no sound was coming from his mike. The backing group and the musicians was all that could be heard. This really was sad, in Manchester it worked brilliantly. Alfie left via the floor exit to really great response from the audience.

I have used words such as beautiful, amazing, fabulous, I was just totally lost for words – there just aren’t enough words in the dictionary to describe their performance. I and everyone in the audience both in Glasgow and Manchester just did not want this to end due to a truly professional performance of flawless, harmonious voices performed in a relaxed and easy atmosphere, the audience witnessing an obvious close and respectful partnership of friends. The love these two performers have for each other, for music and for their audience was evident from start to finish. I loved it, the freedom, the flow seamless (well almost) from one song to another, the mistakes, the banter, the mickey taking, the well rehearsed insults and responses – it was great. Such freedom and fluidity, no stuffiness or pretence doesn’t just happen, it comes from careful thought, planning, imagination, lots of hard work, team work and most importantly talent. Talent was on show in abundance.  A brilliant, brilliant show  and I am so sorry I didn’t book every performance.

Thanks so much for a lovely review Pauline.

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Can you believe the Together Again 2017 tour is almost over?  Just three dates left – whatever will we do then?  Luckily for us, Alfie Boe and Michael Ball are have plenty of TV and radio appearances to keep us going over Christmas.  In the meantime, let’s enjoy Barbara Wren’s review from Leeds.

Leaving the First Direct Arena in Leeds I was absolutely overwhelmed, the atmosphere and warmth was wonderful and despite the freezing cold Yorkshire night outside, the love and friendliness stayed with me, and are my overriding memory. Driving home I started to reflect on the concert and wondered whatever was I going to write. So much has been written so brilliantly about the set list and music in the concerts to date, by some fabulous reviewers and I felt lost for words on how I could follow without simply repeating. The guys are so professional and well rehearsed that we all get the very best they can give at every concert.

That said, there was something really special about this concert at Leeds and it very quickly become clear that so many other people felt Leeds was something special. I chatted with many fans who had been at Manchester on Thursday evening and also other concerts who felt Leeds had surpassed expectation in every way. It didn’t take a genius to work out it was the intense atmosphere, warmth, love and friendliness which built with every song, and the sincerity and depth of Alfie and Michael’s friendship, which as always was palpable to make Leeds extra special. Comically endorsed by Alfie calling Michael a bastard on a couple of occasions when he was teased by Michael who dropped the unexpected on him despite the brilliant well rehearsed comedic sketches. (Love Alfie’s giggle).

Using the opportunity in their solo slots both Alfie and Michael expressed personally and so sincerely, their thanks and appreciation to the audience. Also very poignantly, the lyrics of some of the songs on the set list related to some of the dreadful things that have happened in the country this year, the effects on families and the work of our services and armed forces. First Michael’s powerful and emotional delivery of The Impossible Dream which received the wonderful and so deserved ovation followed by Run which of course is one of the special songs Alfie dedicates to express his appreciation of our Armed Forces and Servicemen that keep us safe. This is where I am lost for words. The emotion in Leeds was palpable, the power and delivery was incredible and with tears in my eyes I glanced round to see I was by no means on my own. Leaving the stage to sing and walk amongst the audience, Alfie took the whole experience to a new level; his own wonderful way of saying I am with you and I care. For me personally it meant so much. The lights from phones across the auditorium were spectacular and created the perfect atmosphere and backdrop to some wonderful moments for many fans. I do hope this again this is a tour highlight for Alfie. It is true that a picture says a thousand words. No more so than in Linda Wellington’s fabulous video. Thank you so much Linda.

I think it is also worth noting that the design of Leeds arena is fantastic for this as the seating through all the levels is a wide fan shape semi circle meaning that no one is so far back and therefore feel nearer and involved, never more so than in Bring me Sunshine. Forgive me but watching Strictly tonight I don’t think their dancing would score 10’s, but for the audience at Leeds they were Ginger and Fred. True fabulous traditional entertainment. Morecambe and Wise would be delighted.

It is not possible to end without saying that the diversity of genre and harmony were brilliantly complemented by the fabulous musicians from the London Symphony Orchestra, the backing singers and the creation of stunning inspirational back drops which were wonderfully arranged and harmonised in every sense of the word. The whole production team deserve exceptional praise.

Turning to Love Changes Everything –  yes it does. There is nothing better than fun, laughter and entertainment to demonstrate love and friendship, which we got in spades. This duo are for ALWAYS. “Together for ever “as the saying goes. We all like and admire their individual work and long may it continue but the value of them TOGETHER is a partnership based on mutual appreciation which is unique and fingers crossed will be around for a long time to come. Alfie has done some diverse and stunning work over the last year on his own as well as the Together recordings and concerts and I have never seen Alfie look so well and happy as when the Together concerts began last year. I also now listen to Michael most Sunday mornings interspersed with his musical theatre work in which I now take much more interest, so win win all round.

I end at the beginning: You’ll Be Back, please don’t Tell Me It’s Not True, we’ll follow you for A Thousand Years, please Don’t Stop The Beat and Run with the Wagon Wheel, answer our Prayer and we’ll send you Roses in appreciation of the difference you make to all of our lives. Thank you for the power, passion and integrity you bring to every performance.

Wow, what a fabulous review and I think you sentiments at the end go for all of us – thanks Barbara.

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Alfie Boe and Michael Ball moved onto Birmingham last night for the latest show of their Together Again 2017 tour and Kate Griffin was there to review for us:

Our night began with a thrilling meet and greet experience that was just wonderful. It was very well organised and everyone was getting a buzz from watching the boys as we each took our turn to be photographed with them and have a little chat. They were both relaxed, with Michael the more buoyant one whilst Alfie was a little more reserved and quieter. As we approached for our two minutes of their attention Alfie was so kind and gentle and softly spoken. He happily signed my photos and programme and chatted for a couple of minutes. I told him I was reviewing the concert and was expecting a good performance and he told me the end was a surprise to watch out for and to which Michael over heard and chipped in about Alfie getting all the attention as always! They spent about an hour overall with fans and left us all on a high in anticipation about what was to come.

The concert was beyond all expectations from start to finish. As the other reviewers have said before me if you thought Together was good and couldn’t be beaten, just wait until you’ve seen Together Again! Michael and Alfie appeared looking very cool and casual in skinny jeans and jackets with Alfie opting for biker boots and an untucked silk black shirt which I am sure set many hearts aflutter! Michael looked fitter than he has for some time and dressed to match Alfie making him appear younger and trendier. They came on to a wonderful backdrop made from a collection of photos of their year reminding us of their obvious bromance and love for each other.

The lyrics of You’ll Be Back from Hamilton set them giggling and the banter began; the lyrics unfolded with Michael singing “you belong to me”, to Alfie which gets Alfie making two finger signs at him in jest and then as the song goes on it ends up with Alfie on his knees at Michael singing “for ever and ever and ever”. We were treated to Hero which was just beautiful and then Tell Me Its Not True which brought out the richness and depth in both their voices. I felt it was quite a slow paced build up to a powerful ending which had the crowd bowled over by this point. As the songs were sung the backdrops were simple patterns and colours and beautifully enhanced their vocals and were perfect in setting the mood for each song. As we got to Not While I’m Around from Sweeney Todd the back drop turned blood red and the lighting filling the stage also red which helped portray the mood of this musical. As they sang this their caring and gentle sides was very apparent and I thought it came over how much love they have for each other and that they had each other’s back at all times.  The graphical backdrop for The Rose was a beautiful setting and the boys began to sing again quietly and softly. Michael showing his acting through song ability and Alfie being very gentle before their voices joined together to build up to the crescendo of a very powerful ending.

Michael then declared he was worn out so let’s have a sit down. They messed around at this point making the audience laugh as Alfie feeds Michael water from his bottle and Michael leant his head on Alfie’s shoulder to which Alfie shouted “you’ve got makeup on me jacket” in his lovely Northern accent! As Michael announces the next song from the last tour Alfie pretends he hates it and they start joking about it as Michael rubs Alfie’s shoulder to remove the make up.  They then sang one of my very favourites, A Thousand Years from Twilight as huge floating candles filled the back drop to bring a beautiful ambience to the Arena. The song was both powerful and passionate and beautifully delivered.  More banter followed after this, which involved Alfie fidgeting with his microphone pack wires in the back of his shirt. Michael tried to help with Alfie then declaring the “wires gone up me bum!” The audience were in stitches and then with Alfie trying his best to get away from Michael with his stool they began chasing each other around. At this point Alfie suggested they put the lights on to see the audience.  Once on, he ran off as if scared by the number of people he can see and Michael claimed its “like we’re One Direction!” Love Changes Everything came next with yet more little funny moments between them that fit aptly with the lyrics. Alfie felt Michael’s knee and got the response “wait till I get you on that bus.” It is quite beautiful how Michael has let Alfie share his song and they made it a refreshing new version as enormous light bulbs float behind them on the backdrop.

For act two the boys appeared still in their jeans and boots but having changed into jacket and ties. After the opening couple of songs, Alfie teased the audience as he declared rumours that Michael has begged him to sing songs from a famous pop group which led the audience to think Wham is coming. Of course it was Queen and a simply stunning arrangement of songs which Alfie just rocked to perfection. That rock god came out as he climbed on the railings, arms in the air and encouraging the audience to scream and they brought the house down. Michael said let’s keep the party going as Alfie went off for a break, singing You Can’t stop the Beat to a backdrop of fabulous photos of him in the role of Edna Turnblad. The crowd were on their feet dancing by now as he told us he misses wearing a dress! He talked about the dream year he’s had with Alfie and how much he loves him as his best mate to share adventures with, leading nicely into The Impossible Dream.  As Michael left to a standing ovation, Alfie returned saying “hello, I’ve got a guitar”. He thanked Michael for the last twelve months saying he is a wonderful guy to make fun of.  A beautiful country song, Wagon Wheel, follows, confidently strumming and jamming with his fellow musicians.  Following was a dedication to our armed forces and Alfie asked us to put our torches on whilst he sung Run. It was evident why this won the poll for best live performance as the atmosphere was electric and most poignant. It was a beautiful moment.

The ending was like the best party you have ever been to, with such a happy atmosphere that you never wanted to end.  To finish off, we were so lucky to be sitting next to Alfie’s sister Pauline. She was delightful and happily chatted away to us about Alfie. She is clearly one very proud big sister who constantly referred to him as her “Baby Brother”, beaming the whole way through the concert and bursting with pride. She says he is a very humble man, who gets nervous but adores making people happy . She said that what we see is what we get with Alfie and that he is exactly the same at home as we see him on the stage. Which brings me back to my big sis who I took as my guest. She loved every moment and tells me today that it was a wow concert that she could watch over and over again. I think Alfie has just gained another fan!

Thank you to both Michael and Alfie for such a wonderful, heart-warming and entertaining night. Also to the backing singers, musicians and orchestra. From beginning to end, what a superb evening of wall to wall entertainment.

Thanks Kate for a great review.

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Three dates in (next stop Birmingham) and Alfie Boe and Michael Ball are on fine form on their Together Again tour 2017.  The lovely Claire Shorter and her mum, Janet were there for us last night and bring us their review below.  As Claire says herself, she entered into the Together venture not really knowing Alfie, but thought that if Michael loves Alfie and his work, then it was bound to be great. A year on and Claire now adores them both and even shared a laugh about with Michael at the Brighton meet and greet. As Claire and Janet went to say hello to Michael, he looked at Claire and said “go on over there to the one you left me for”, pointing at Alfie.

The BIC was bursting at the seams, the lights went down and silence fell, you could feel the anticipation. The music started and the boys began singing As If We Never Said Goodbye, with photos representing the fabulous year they have had appearing on the screen; from cuddling a koala, the Blackpool HMV signing and the great picture of the boys with their chopper. They then arrive on stage, looking and sounding amazing. Next is You’ll Be Back, the bromance banter and giggles begin and it is clear to see they really are each others favourite subject. Alfie tried to get the security lady to sing along but she was having none of it, so funny. This was followed by Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher and Higher. Both pulled out the moves and Alfie had a twinkle in his eye gesturing out to the audience.  They then sang Hero, chosen by Alfie – the melodies are so beautiful and I love watching Michael miming the words as Alfie sings his section.  Next was Tell Me It’s Not True from Blood Brothers, which is always a crowd pleaser, followed by Some Enchanted Evening, with Alfie sounding magical when he starts singing and Michael continues this when he joins in. When they sing Not While I’m Around, it is clear that they truly feel this about each other, they have each others backs. The winks that they share during the song are beyond cute.

The Rose comes with beautiful graphics on the screen, hearing them both sing this and Love Changes Everything is so refreshing. I love how Michael sings these songs but two powerhouses brings yet another dimension to the performance. One of my favourites from the Together tour was A Thousand Years so I was pleased to hear this again, the way they sing this song is nothing but perfection. The banter then continues and Alfie has to look after Michael; who would have thought I would be seeing Alfie wind Michael on stage! Watching Michael follow Alfie and his chair around the stage was amusing too. These two are so cheeky and mischievous and I love it.  My favourite section has to be He Lives In You followed by You’re The Voice, the audience loved it and Alfie was jumping around the stage like Tigger, he certainly has a lot of energy. I have a short commute to work and I make sure I listen to track 4, 5 and 12 of the new album, so although I was missing Evermore I was in my element singing and clapping along.

It was then interval time and unfortunately someone was taken ill at the beginning so there was a slight delay. When Michael and Alfie returned to the stage they sang the West Side Story medley beautifully (albeit I am not a big fan of the song Maria), there were also great visuals that accompany the medley. Before they continued to the next song Michael asked the audience to join them in wishing the gentlemen who had fallen ill, well. Michael confirmed the gentlemen was ok and Alfie joked that guys would do anything to get out of seeing the show!  The boys recent Royal Variety performance was then discussed, Alfie knew the dance but not the words and Michael knew the words but not the dance, however it was hilarious as Michael dropped a swear word and they both giggled most of the way through. They really do bring the audience sunshine. New York ,New York was next, but a seated version, it is great to hear it a different way, although I think all the fans are desperate to get up and have a dance.

Next comes a Queen medley and they do Freddie proud. The person next to me announced ‘they really are rock gods’! We were then treated to a bit of Edna and Michael pulled the gyrations out of the bag! In case we weren’t sure, Michael also confirms ‘I still bloody love Alfie Boe’. Michael’s second solo piece was The Impossible Dream, which always gets a great reaction. Michael is right, dream and dream big. Michael then left the stage and Alfie came on with his guitar, the band then joined him for Wagon Wheel, a song choice inspired by his late fathers love of that type of music. Such a great arrangement with the solo instrumentals, I felt like I was in a hick town, jamming with the locals. Alfie will be pleased to hear I caught the security lady having a little boogie to this song! We were treated to Run, a song Alfie dedicates to service men and women. Although I enjoyed Tiny Dancer the night before, I love Run, so emotional and strong.

Then it is the one that a lot of the crowd have been waiting for, Les Mis the medley is amazing and has a slight twist to how they have done it before. Although you don’t want the medley to end, it needs to as I think a lot of people forget to breathe. In the finale, One Day More, there was a lady on her feet waving her scarf, I love seeing other people showing their enjoyment and appreciation in such a way. Then the boys were gone and what a reaction they were given by the crowd, cheering, stomping feet, clapping and then the boys appeared again for the Prayer, wow, what an ending…..or is it….no, Michael’s dream then comes true…..he checks Alfie has gone then starts with the Wham medley, but Alfie just can’t resist, joining in. George Michael would have been dancing along with them. Those moves… Alfie braves it by standing on the piano but there is nothing stopping the boys, they really do end on a high leaving the audience with a huge smile on their faces.

Throughout the whole show, you can tell they really respect each others friendship and talent. They are also so grateful to the the fans, the interaction with the crowd is great, the smiles that beam, the winks that melt hearts and the waves that make you feel part of their journey. I am proud to be a fan and am very privileged to have shared some fantastic experiences with them.  A lovely thing about the concerts is meeting up with friends and also meeting new people. I sat two seats away from 92 year old Mary who wanted me to pass the message on to Alfie and Michael that they were amazing, she also said she would race me to the stage door!  Thank you also to everyone who is involved in putting on the show, whether it is the musicians, backing singers, Murray, Callum or anyone behind the scenes, you all do a great job.

Michael and Alfie, thank you both for bringing such joy to so many people and stay fabulous.

Wow, a fabulous review Claire and Janet, thank you so much!

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Most fans of Alfie Boe and Michael Ball have been keen to see the pair tour again since the end of the last tour in December 2016 and I am no exception.  After reading Carole Hunt’s wonderful review of the opening night, Cardiff, I was doubly excited to head down to Brighton and I was not disappointed.  Heather Crosskey, a guest reviewer from 2016 was also there and has added her review to mine.

Throughout 2017, in the numerous interviews and promotional appearances, as well as the concerts, it has been clear that Alfie and Michael share a very warm bond of friendship and this collaboration has been nothing but good news for them both.  This feeling is very much reflected in the structure and atmosphere of this set list and show – each song chosen shines a perfect spotlight on their voices, combined or solo, whilst also highlighting their friendship and differing personalities.  This change is apparent from the start when Alfie appears in jeans and black shirt (untucked) as opposed to the suit of last year.   However, the glitzy shoes that caused such excitement amongst fans have gone – perhaps they looked good but weren’t comfy?  We’ve all been there Alfie!

Musically, the highlights for me were the duet of Michael’s signature song, Love Changes Everything, Hero (a song I’m warming to each time I hear it), He Lives In You and the Queen medley.  You might think this list isn’t very long and you’d be right – although these were undoubted highlights, they don’t come close to the Les Mis medley, You’re The Voice and the Wham medley.  I can safely die happy now I’ve heard and seen Alfie singing and dancing  the music of Wham, just sensational and I’m a bit hoarse today after singing my heart out to these songs.

Seeing as many fans came to both Michael and Alfie through Les Mis, the pair have kept a medley in the set list but it’s much different than last year.  Backing singers, Ulrika, Tor and Emma do a phenomenal job on At The End Of The Day before Alfie and Michael return with I Dreamed A Dream and a new addition, Master of the House.  As with the  summer concerts, the medley ends with One Day More but in between, we see two solo spots: Michael’s beautiful rendition of Stars and Alfie’s Bring Him Home.  I am extremely lucky to have heard Alfie sing his signature song on numerous occasions and although I love it, there are other songs I love more.  Last night, however, and perhaps because I haven’t heard him sing the entire song for a couple of years, Alfie sang so movingly he brought me to tears for the second time, the first being He Lives In You.

Although all the songs I have mentioned were special, for me, the icing on the cake (or doughnuts, I heard they like doughnuts?!) was Alfie’s two solo numbers.  Both new for the tour and in those moments, as well as Queen and Wham, I felt I was truly seeing Alfie at his happiest and best.  For those who saw the Storyteller tour, it was akin to that.  Tiny Dancer was extraordinary but Wagon Wheel was just joyous:

It was also fantastic to see Alfie putting himself out there with a guitar – and doesn’t he play well these days?

Overall, it was a totally joyful experience and left the audience feeling on cloud ninety nine – love, love, loved it!  And now over to Heather:

There is a sense of brotherhood between these two giants of the music industry. Their voices blend together, there’s no competition between them. Neither man trying to take the spotlight, and gives a wonderful, relaxed feeling to the
proceedings. The choice of songs is inspired – audience participation is guaranteed and encouraged. There are songs from the new album, a song from Hamilton, and songs from other West End hit shows.

Love Changes Everything, sung as a duet, was moving and earned the guys a standing ovation. Having only heard it sung by Michael in the past, the addition of Alfie’s voice and harmonies took an already beautiful song to an entirely new dimension.  We were treated to a bit of soft shoe shuffle as Michael and Alfie performed Bring Me Sunshine – the song they sang at the Royal Variety Performance. Michael and Alfie each had a solo slot – we saw Michael relive his time in Hairspray with You Can’t Stop the Beat and then slow everything down with The Impossible Dream, which felt really emotional.  A medley of songs by Queen was great fun and again had the audience joining in. The evening ended with the most beautiful arrangement of The Prayer, sung in both English and Italian – I’m not ashamed to say it reduced me to tears. Then, just as we all thought it was time to go home, a final medley, this time of Wham songs had us all dancing, clapping and singing. A wonderful finale to an awesome evening.

If you’ve got a ticket to the Together Again 2017 tour then you’re in for a treat – it’s fabulous!

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Ball and Boe’s Together Again tour started on Thursday in Cardiff and regular reviewer Carole Hunt was there for us:

Think you’ve heard it all from Messrs Ball and Boe over the past twelve months? Well, think again. They’re back and with it they are bigger, better, and bolder than ever before. Add the word ‘badder’ to that list in the best possible sense and you have the formula for a show with a gloriously long set list by two performers who have created something quite astonishing. They are more relaxed and their infectious love for their craft and performing in front of a live audience is abundantly clear.

The set is just about the same as previously, except for the back screen being one large element instead of split into three and the opening overture, played whilst Alfie and Michael begin in their familiar format of singing off stage, is accompanied by a plethora of photos of them including the selfies they took on stage at the end of each concert last winter and summer – so watch out for yourselves! As If We Never Said Goodbye opens the show followed by (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher, the latter being a surprise inclusion but got the audience in upbeat spirits from the start. Then, from the Together Again album – You’ll Be Back, Some Enchanted Evening, Evermore, Not While I’m Around and The Rose. A duet of Michael’s signature song Love Changes Everything was amusing and Alfie picks it up with effortless ease. I was thrilled to hear A Thousand Years still included in the set as it fast became one of my favourites last year, and Hero came next with He Lives In You. John Tonks’ solo on drums during the latter number was incredible and clearly enjoyed by them both, although I think Alfie was itching to take over! As the tempo increased on the song so did his energy levels and they didn’t look back for the rest of the show.

The second half began with a medley from West Side Story accompanied by graphics on the back screen evocative of the opening of the original film which set the tone beautifully. Bring Me Sunshine was gorgeous with the added delight of an unprepared dance routine that they had done at the Royal Variety show last week which brought giggles between them but was made even more endearing with it being less than perfect. Whether they will perfect it as the tour evolves I don’t know but there was something very captivating about it with the rough edges.

New York, New York was followed by one of many surprise inclusions and something totally inspired – a Queen medley. If there is one man who can come anywhere near to doing Freddie Mercury justice it’s Alfie and you can sense the joy he feels in singing those genius and powerful songs – It’s A Kind Of Magic, Radio Gaga, We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions. Rock star Alfie was unleashed, possibly onto a partly unsuspecting audience who were not so familiar with that side of him and “that nice man from Les Mis” filled the stage as only he can with epic vocals and boundless energy.

Their solo spots were a refreshing departure from what they had done in previous shows but still showcased their ability to perform yet more musical genres. Michael chose a tribute to David Bowie in Life on Mars and You Can’t Stop The Beat from his time in Hairspray. Alfie’s choices were unexpected – Wagon Wheel, a country song performed whilst he played the guitar and accompanied by a handful of musicians around him. The last time we saw him with a guitar in his hand was during the Storyteller tour 4 ½ years ago and I am happy to report that he has clearly worked very hard since then and appears very comfortable indeed. His choice of Tiny Dancer, an Elton John song , was inspired by hearing its original composer performing it on a grand piano in his back garden.

A new and updated medley from Les Miserables was as uplifting and emotional as it should be, given it is being performed by two of the most famous and formidable voices ever to be associated with arguably one of the best musicals ever written. The backing singers did a wonderful job with At the End of the Day, and Michael delivered an impassioned Stars before Alfie gave us a full length, towering Bring Him Home. Whilst Michael was performing Alfie sat in the half light off to one side preparing himself, no doubt getting into that ‘bubble’ that he talks about. The way that Michael in particular looks at Alfie when he is singing solo is fascinating and captivating to watch, he seems to be in total awe. A final blast of One Day More brought tears to my eyes.

The finale came with The Prayer , delivered with high emotion and passion and, unlike the CD recording, they went for the very big finish with Alfie hitting that note as only he can. But a finale is not a real finale with Ball and Boe these days until Michael has come back on alone, seemingly pleased that Alfie had gone so that he could sing A Different Corner, only to have him pop up behind him and both of them launching into – yes folks, they really did do it at last – a Wham medley. It was a joy to seem them on that stage just letting go and the entire audience were on their feet caught up with their infectious excitement and dynamism. Where else could you expect to see a Fellow of the Royal College of Music belting out Wham songs on top of a white grand piano?

It was a very special evening indeed and I have no doubt that the tour will evolve as it goes on, but the unpredictability and excitement of an opening night was one to savour. This may be the last we hear from Ball and Boe as a duo for a while and we are excited to hear where their individual paths will take them next, but ‘Together’ they certainly brought fun, sunshine and love to Cardiff.
Breathtaking review Carole – thank you so much!

With less than three weeks to go until Alfie Boe and Michael Ball start their Together Again 2017 tour, I’m on the hunt for concert reviewers.  Last year, Cecelia Powell, Samantha Davis, Heather Crosskey, Heather Moore, Carole Hunt, Roberta Kappus, Christine Firby and Barbara Wren wrote some wonderful reviews and I’m hoping that there will be some more guest reviewers out there this year.

If you would like to review a concert on the Together Again Tour, please fill in the form with a mini review of the album and I’ll notify the winners at the end of next week:

Click here to see some of the reviews from 2016.

Last week I gave you the opportunity to win a signed CD / DVD deluxe Together Again album and I asked you which Disney songs were included on the album.  Sixty of you knew that He Lives In You and Evermore were Disney songs, as well as Once Upon A December from Anastasia (although as Anastasia is a bonus track, I did take answers that just included Lion King and Beauty and the Beast).

I’m delighted to say that the random number generated belongs to Sue Ashton – well done Sue!

Also, the winner of the Elizabeth Marvelly album on which Alfie duetted on Stranger in Paradise is Vehbiye Yoncu – well done!

Sue and Vehbiye, please click here to send me your contact details.

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Monday 13 November sees new musical Tiger Bay, open in Cardiff at the Wales Millennium Centre.  Set in the early 1900’s, the show tells the story of poverty and wealth in Cardiff’s Butetown through one young woman, played by Vicky Bebb.  Welsh musical star John Owen-Jones plays John Stuart, Third Marquess of Bute in a role written for him.

When I spoke to him earlier this year around the release of his compilation album, Bring Him Home, John said that to have a part written for him was “a long held dream”.  With Tiger Bay, John also had the opportunity to be involved in a new musical right from the beginning as the show initially premiered in Cape Town in March / April this year.  This  experience was different to other shows that John’s been it was “more like a long workshop with rewrites and changes” as opposed to slotting into a long running show.

One such long running show was Les Miserables, where he most recently took over from Alfie Boe on Broadway.  John enjoys a good relationship with Alfie and joked about Alfie and Ramin Karimloo (Jean Valjean before Alfie) that “they did what I originally did and then I went and showed them how it was supposed to be done.”  Click here for our Les Miz Broadway reviews to see if you agree!

Whilst on the topic of Alfie (John knowing Alfie and me writing this blog, talking about Alfie was inevitable) we talked about the infamous night at the Royal Albert Hall when Alfie pulled John up onto the stage to sing Bring Him Home.  Of that night, John said “I wished I hadn’t had two pints of lager but it was absolutely unplanned and terrifying but perhaps the beer was helpful.  I couldn’t believe Alfie had the balls to do that.”  That was my very first Alfie concert and because of that magical moment, one of the most memorable:

John, of course, also starred in another iconic long running show, Phantom of the Opera as well as a recent short revival of The Wild Party.  When asked, John’s dream roles include Sweeney Todd, George in the Park, Man of La Mancha, Into the Woods and Company.

Tiger Bay opens on 13 November – click here for tickets.

John’s latest album, Bring Him Home is available here:

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