This is now my fourth instalment of my 2018 resolution to listen to different types of music and for this month, I’m taking inspiration from Alfie again.  In a recent Instagram chat from Hong Kong, Alfie was listening to Chris Cornell, former lead singer with Soundgarden and Audioslave and I thought this would make an excellent choice for April.

Cornell sadly passed away in 2017 but was one of the leading lights of the grunge movement that came out of Seattle in the late eighties / early nineties and the early music of Soundgarden certainly reflects that, as well as the heavy metal and rock roots that are present throughout Cornell’s music.  Before I began listening to Soundgarden for this piece, I have to say that I wasn’t altogether aware of much of the band’s music…or rather, I was aware of the general sound (like Alfie, this music was a big part of my later teenage years) but not of Soundgarden in particular.  I definitely couldn’t have named any Seattle based bands other than Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and my only knowledge of Cornell was You Know My Name, the theme for 007’s Casino Royale.

I began by listening to 1988’s Ultramega OK and the sound instantly transported me back to my student clubbing days – guitar riffs, raw, powerful vocals and the driving rhythm that makes you dance.  Cornell’s vocals remind me of Robert Plant at times but he really comes into his own on the blues tinged Smokestack Lightning:

Moving onto 1994’s Superunknown, the music and lyrics become much darker and touched by feelings about depression and are quite bleak.  The album allows Cornell’s vocals to shine through much more (he has regularly been voted best rock vocalist by peers and fans alike) and as a whole, hangs together than previous albums.  Black Hole Sun and Fell on Black Days are great tracks, along with Day I Tried to Live.

Before coming back to Soundgarden, Cornell formed Audioslave with members of Rage Against the Machine and their self titled album first album was released in 2002.  When listening, I felt that this album was much more cohesive as a sound, with my favourite tracks being Like A Stone, I Am The Highway and Be Yourself.  Although I can appreciate Cornell’s music and voice through his collaborations with others, it’s his solo work that really shows his talent.  In particular, I liked Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart and The Promise:

I can hear Alfie singing many of these songs, as he definitely has the voice for rock (looking forward to finding out about Boston Pops) but it would be even lovelier to hear his take on these two solo songs.

Cornell’s solo album Higher Truth and others are available here:

If you would like to recommend any music to aid my 2018 resolution of listening to more music, fill in the form!

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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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The third song in our countdown is the first of the three new entries to this year’s poll.  From Ball and Boe’s second number one album, Together Again, the song in at number eight is He Lives In You:

Taken from the stage version of Disney’s The Lion King, and also opening the sequel, Simba’s Pride, He Lives In You was one of Alfie’s choices for Together Again.  Since his first child was born, Alfie has tended to choose at least one song per album for his children, so I’m wondering if this was the case for He Lives In You – I really should have asked him when I interviewed him last year!

He Lives In You was written by South African composer and musician Lebo M in conjunction with Mark Mancina and Jay Rifkin, originally for the album Rhythm of the Pride Lands, music inspired by the original Lion King movie.  The song then went on to appear in the stage version as They Live In You (first act), before returning as He Lives In You in the second act.

Together Again 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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After the nominations and the voting, now we find out which Alfie Boe live song the fans have chosen as their favourite – or rather, we find out in ten weeks!  Coincidentally, by the time we have counted down in reverse order, Alfie’s Fleetwood Homecoming concert will almost be upon us.  Looking forward to it everyone?  I know I’m not the only one with a habit of wishing away their lives in anticipation of the next Alfie concert!  If you’ve not got a ticket yet, click here.

The song in at number ten this year is a song that returns to the top ten after a year long gap, having previously been voted in at numbers three (2014) and seven (2016).  From Serenata, here is Buona Sera:

Written by Peter de Rose and Carl Sigman (Sigman also wrote the lyrics to the English version of Arrivederci Roma), most people will be familiar with the Dean Martin version:

However, the song was first recorded by Louis Prima. Prima was a big band, swing singer of the mid twentieth century and Buona Sera was one of a long line of hits. Incidentally, Prima is the voice of King Louis in Disney’s The Jungle Book.

Serenata is available here:

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Another UK summer concert has just been added to Alfie Boe’s schedule – Alfie will appear at Henley’s By The River Festival on 11 August 2018.

The festival is in association with Classic FM and will also feature Sir Karl Jenkins, classical guitarist Milos and, I suspect most popularly, soprano Laura Wright, who toured with Alfie back in 2011/12.  Ever since, fans have been waiting to see the pair back together again, so I hope we see Alfie and Laura duetting.  Their version of Barcelona is regularly cited as one of Alfie’s best live songs.

Tickets are on sale now – click here to buy.

In news announced on Friday, Alfie will team up with Michael Ball again to sing at the Classic BRIT Awards, held at the Royal Albert Hall on 13 June and televised on 17 June.  Click here for tickets.

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Thank you for sending in your nominations for Alfie Boe’s Best Live Song 2018 – we have several new songs to add to the voting list! They are:

  • Wagon Wheel, nominated by Lesley Loftus, Sarah Buttifant, Lee Kelly, Lynda Dawe, Pip Pallett, Pat Davies, Linda Wellington, Pat Watterson, Wendy Lowe, Janet Hudson, Brenda Licence and Clare Shorter
  • You’re The Voice – Gill Jansingh
  • Tiny Dancer – Maureen Nolepa
  • He Lives In You – Debbie Hickmott
  • Keep Me In Your Heart – Lilian Evans and Alison Roseweir
  • The Prayer – Catherine Cheung and Kathryn Richards
  • A Thousand Years – Claire Shorter
  • Wham Medley – Pauline Young and Akiko Yonezawa

It’s now time to cast your vote – hurry, voting only lasts a couple of days this time!

Here are all the nominated songs to help you decide!

 

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Alfie Boe fans around the world are counting down to the summer concerts in the UK and something that’s become an annual event before a string of concerts is a poll to find out which of Alfie Boe’s live songs is the fan favourite.  Will any of the new songs we saw from Alfie on the Together Again tour make it into the top ten or will the out and out favourite of the last two years, Run, come out on top again?  Whatever happens, it’s up to you to nominate and vote, so let’s do it!

These are the songs already nominated from previous years:

 

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