As fans of Alfie Boe we are aware that he supports several charities that are close to his heart and one that we have recently heard from is Trinity Hospice, the hospice supporting adults and children on the Fylde Coast which is where Alfie is from.

At the unveiling of Alfie’s blue plaque at the Marine Hall, Fleetwood, Shirley Morgan from the hospice told us about Alfie’s support, both public and private and told us what that means for them, particularly for their fundraising abilities.  Supporting adults and children on the same site, each year Trinity needs to raise £5 million to keep going and they are always looking for new ideas.  The past few years have seen them run Trinity tea parties, with Alfie himself urging everyone to “put the kettle on and raise money for Trinity” and this year they are running a similarly themed event, Get Together.

As patron, Alfie is wholeheartedly behind this new initiative and says

There’s nothing I enjoy more than a get together with friends and family. The weeks I spend on the road makes family time so precious – and I’d ask everyone having their own get together this summer to think about supporting Trinity and Brian House by doing a little bit of fundraising at the same time – that makes it a real win-win.

Click here for a fundraising pack but here are just some of the ideas already:

sizzling summer BBQ

themed dinner party

girly lunch or boys night in

evening of G&T or cocktails

family garden party

movie marathon

thoughtsofjustafan will be hosting an online Alfie on YouTube marathon over the weekend of 15-16 July – click here to join in the fun!

 

 

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!

 

Alfie Boe and Michael Ball last night bid farewell to their very own summer of love at the first night of the 2017 Greenwich Music Festival and as with the other dates, held the audience in the palms of their hands.  The title of this piece is Summer of Love and it’s been a joy to see so much love surrounding this tour of outdoor venues; love for Alfie and Michael from fans and on social media, love from Alfie and Michael for the fans and also the almost epic scale bromance between the two. This may be the first show of this tour that I’ve seen but I’m sure that Alfie and Michael have not missed any opportunity to spread the love and gratitude to fans and each other for the absolutely fantastic year they’ve had.

Although Greenwich was my only show of this tour, I’m so glad that I was able to be there for the last one – last nights are very special and I wasn’t disappointed.  How could I be when my favourite song, Keep Me In Your Heart (come on, you know my favourite line by now!) was included, along with last year’s Best Alfie Boe Live Song, Run.  Of the rest of the changes, I was most impressed by Luck Be A Lady (from one of my favourite old style musicals) and of course the addition of One Day More to the end of the Les Mis medley – just when you think Alfie can’t get any better, he does.  At this rate, I’ll need to research lots more superlatives with which to describe Alfie’s voice – for now, I’ll just say that for me, he was perfection last night.

The song that surprised me the most was the encore of You’ll Never Walk Alone which I have never really felt an emotional connection to.  Last night though, the theme of unity and standing strong through adversity spoke to me and the tears came.  Michael had earlier spoken very movingly about the troubled times we find ourselves in and it strikes me that You’ll Never Walk Alone is the perfect song to reflect our unity and strength – none of us have perfect lives, after all, despite what we say on social media!

Earlier in the day, Alfie and Michael had presented an award at the 02 Silver Clefs in aid of Nordoff Robbins and Alfie, an ambassador for the charity, spoke a few words during his solo slot about their work – click here to find out more about music therapy from Nordoff Robbins.

Now if all this sounds somewhat sombre, the concert did contain the usual amount of humour from these two likely lads, as can be seen from the beginning of A Thousand Years – rear of the year anyone?

Alfie and Michael’s Summer of Love may be over for the time being but it won’t be long until we see them again for Together Again 2017 and before that, Alfie will of course be seen as Jimmy in Classic Quadrophenia (click here for tickets).  Until then, we’ll have to be content to send the boys all our love – we’ve loved these two weeks!

Special thanks to Linda Wellington for taking such fabulous videos for us all to share and to my two reviewers, Cecelia and Barbara.  And I must give a special mention to the Boe Buddies I had the good fortune to spend the Greenwich concert with, particularly Margie who is here from Australia via Paris.

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Tonight is the last concert of the 2017 Together Tour but before we get to that, Alfie and Michael performed at Scarborough in what a local newspaper called biblical conditions – it was very wet!  One of our previous reviewers, Barbara Wren was there:

Singing and dancing in the rain, Alfie and Michael just got on with it and wow, what a concert and evening it was. For me Alfie could sing the phone book and I would be happy, so sitting in the rain was not a problem and clearly I was far from on my own ( I do have to add that there is no one else I would do it for). Bonded together by our love of Alfie and Michael the evening was far from lost and everyone I spoke to absolutely loved the concert, though without doubt one that everyone will never forget.

From the beginning, true professionals Alfie and Michael appeared at the top of the stage at the end of Somewhere with huge smiles and made fun of the driving rain and wind coming at them as they approached the front of the stage. The concert was off to a fabulous start. As the driving rain increased many of the song lyrics took on a whole new meaning. Clearly wishing there was sunshine Over the Rainbow  and Tell Me It’s Not True to name two. Alfie certainly warmed things up with That’s Alright Mama and as the Elvis set ended I have no doubt there would be towels at the ready and warm drinks as they left the stage for the interval.

Seated back for the second half after meeting up with Annie Lloyd and Pat Watterson we chatted with water dripping everywhere. The audience were buzzing, some had left but not many, everyone in the front sections were well up for it which was testimony of their loyalty to Alfie and Michael and respect for all the artists on stage who just got on with it.  The swing set was fabulous, as the guys looked out at the rain which was getting heavier and sang (also giggling) about the Stairway to Paradise, and cuddled up to keep warm through Me and my Shadow  then letting rip with Luck be a Lady  and New York, New York  to the delight of the audience.

Alfie and Michael’s solo slots took some guts as the rain, now very much heavier was driving towards the stage.  Alfie ditched his jacket and gave all he had, working at the front of the stage in the pouring rain as he got the audience to participate in Keep Me in Your Heart which was fabulous, and then leaving us breathless with Run, a song I truly believe, Nobody Does it Better than Alfie.  As Alfie retreated to dry off, Michael took over with his always wonderful, sincere and powerful delivery of Gethsemane and Love Changes Everything, to the audience’s delight. The James Bond Set bringing the concert to an end as always was spectacular.

On behalf of all the fans and everyone who attended last nights concert I would like to thank Alfie, Michael, the orchestra, backing singers and the whole crew for pulling off a brilliant concert in such desperate conditions. It was a wonderful evening despite the monsoon engulfing Scarborough.

 

Thank you Barbara for a wonderful review – although this might be one of the rare occasions when I’m not sure I wanted to be there in the rain and wind!

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As we come to end of the Summer Together Tour 2017 (just one date left), it’s once more time to indulge ourselves with six of Alfie Boe’s most sensational songs.  This time they are chosen by Anne Norberg, who, like Alfie, is a Lancastrian now resident in the USA.  These are Anne’s choices:

Run, chosen because “the VE Day celebration was the first time for us hearing Alfie sing this and it was so very poignant and moving. I would dearly love him to record this song.”

Forever Young at the US Memorial Day show 2015, chosen because “watching this on TV made my heart burst with pride and I clapped and cried. (I know many of you can relate). I had friends in other States all watching it too so it was something I could share with them. He displayed such presence, and commanded that stage. I love the way it built up slowly to that magnificent climax.”

Don’t Stop Me Now at Gary Barlow’s New Year’s Eve TV special, chosen because “Just WOW! Alfie was having so much fun and the audience were so involved and well, THAT VOICE! Pure energy and fun. Our boy can sing anything! It gives me burst of energy just to re-listen to this every time.”

Who Am I – Anne chose Alfie singing this at the 25th Les Mis concert but as it keeps disappearing due to copyright issues, I’ve chosen this 2011 TV version instead.  Anne’s reason for choosing the original is  “because I love the audience response when they first hear that incredible two, four, six,oh, one!!! And I would just be so excited for him when I was there in person each time!”

A Living Prayer, chosen because “the most amazing, beautiful voice cuts right through to my soul. And now I’m also aware of the purity of his younger voice then compared to the depth and richness it has now. I love both voices.”

Barcelona, with Laura Wright, chosen because it’s “spectacular, and another one of his power songs. He’s said this is a difficult sing and so I love his ability to master anything!”

Thanks Anne for your choices.  A Living Prayer is the most popular choice of your songs, having been chosen three times altogether, with only one song (Forever Young) appearing on the overall list.

If you would like your choice of six sensational songs to appear here, please fill in the form:

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Alfie Boe and Michael Ball’s Together Again summer tour is now into it’s final few days and we haven’t had a review yet!  Thanks to Cecelia, here is her take on Hampton Court:

Having spent a glorious day at Hampton Court that culminated in an Alfie concert two years ago with my daughter Cassie, when this venue appeared on the Together Again summer schedule it was inevitable that we return. Well, whoever said you should never try to repeat a great experience was dead wrong! Of course, it wasn’t quite the same as this year Alfie was joined by the other half of his double act, Michael Ball. While I’m looking forward to these two doing some work independently, I have a feeling this act could run and run. They truly have become the musical version of Ant and Dec — and not just because of the facial similarities between Alfie and Dec. We all knew their singing was fabulous, but what about their comic timing? It just gets better and better.

Cassie and I arrived early in the day to meet up with pals and explore this beautiful palace once again. Funnily though, we ended up spending a fair bit of time in the gift shop — where a certain New Yorker had positioned herself in prime position to catch the sound check. Then later, fully sated from our picnic on the front lawn, we strolled into the courtyard (champagne glass in hand) with just enough time to greet some familiar faces before we had to take our seats.

What a magnificent setting this is for a concert. You can’t help but feel the history surrounding you and wonder what events took place in the concert courtyard over the centuries. I’ll bet it wasn’t all singing and dancing – although Henry VIII is reputed to have loved both! There were several times when the atmosphere combined with the music literally gave me chills. One such moment was during Anthem. Love it or loathe it for its nationalistic content, this is a hugely powerful number, and to listen to it in a place where kings and queens have plotted for power was extraordinary. I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if some of the palace ghosts had appeared. Surely Alfie’s voice soaring out into the night air could have reached them anywhere.

These palace concerts have no interval, so our boys just powered through the set list so as not to miss out any of the numbers. For them, I’m really glad that the temperature had dropped since the beginning of the week. I might add though that when Michael listed the reasons why he should hate his good buddy, he added the fact that Alfie doesn’t sweat. How that’s possible I don’t know! The man is a perpetual motion machine, and all that running and jumping and rocking and jiving is sure fun to watch. Michael, God love him, sweats enough for the both of them.  I’m sure you’re all aware by now that the set list pretty much follows that of the New York concert. Luck Be a Lady got everyone on their feet, and they stayed there all through New York, New York too.  As far as the boys keeping their eyes on the crowd, of course someone had to be caught out. In the middle of Keep Me in Your Heart as Alfie was dividing the “sha la la las” between the men and the women, he spotted a man walking and called him up to the stage. The guy did so very good naturedly, so Alfie didn’t torment him too much. Just a note or two, before all the men were asked to join in. Another funny moment occurred early on. Before the concert started, the wind had picked up on the front lawn. In the courtyard, we were quite sheltered and didn’t feel it as much. But, the stage, of course, was raised, and a gust of wind caught a violinist’s sheet music and sent it flying. Alfie, who was on that side of the stage, spotted it and ran and picked it up. Handing it back to the violinist, he quipped, “Is there anything else I can do for you mate? Would you like me to play for you too?” He then jokingly took the man’s violin and raised it to his shoulder for a moment before giving it back. Of course, the man laughed along with Alfie who patted him on the arm before continuing the concert. What always astounds me, is how both Alfie and Michael can go from giggling and bantering one minute to immersing themselves totally into a song. You can see the intensity on their faces and the fact that they have gone somewhere inside themselves. And then they’re back again for more banter and fun with each other and the crowd.

Now as for the singing itself, I can only say it was sublime. One of my highlights throughout this tour has been Michael’s Gethsemane, which we got to hear twice because he sang it for the sound check! The intensity of his performance is lightened by his banter and switch to Love Changes Everything. But on this night the song was particularly poignant as he made a point of commenting that he truly does believe this, and that we should remember it in light of the tragedies which have befallen our country over the last few weeks. As far as Alfie’s solos, I think we all thought we’d have no chance of hearing Run when he started singing Keep Me in Your Heart. But we were so wrong! For many of us I think it was the highlight of the evening. Powerful, raw, emotional, there aren’t enough words to express this performance. People lit up the darkness with their phones to add to the atmosphere. It was a truly magical moment, and I am so very grateful that I was there to hear it sung live.

And then, of course, there was the Les Mis Suite. The first time I heard this with One Day More added I wasn’t sure I liked it. It felt as though the latter had just been cobbled on. Not so any more. When Alfie’s voice soars into One Day More on the tail end of I Dreamed a Dream, it all works seamlessly. Listening to my favourite Marius and JVJ (albeit from different decades) together is the perfect finale for the show – especially when you know that encore is coming! Isn’t it amazing how both Alfie and Michael’s careers are so linked to Les Mis?

As a final note, I do think Together is the perfect name for this tour, and it can be again and again. These two extraordinary men have brought us all together. We sat next to a Michael Ball fan, who’d been Boed in the process. And I think that we die-hard Alfie fans have fallen under Michael’s spell too. You can’t help but smile when these two are “together”. In the process, more friendships have been made. I have a feeling Henry VIII would have loved these two at his parties. Here’s to the next one!

Thanks for a fab review Cecelia – felt as though I was there!

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The Journey is the second album from classical crossover artist Thomas Spencer and has been a long time in the making and reflects his desire to find his own voice in the crossover world.  I spoke to Thomas last week about the album and about his own personal journey through the world of music.

Thomas hails from a Derbyshire village and after music A level, decided to study acting in London.  A change of heart though saw him enrol for voice training at Trinity College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music before going onto a post graduate musical theatre course.  The logical outcome of all this was to work in musical theatre but when Thomas found that he was losing out to singers and actors with a bigger profile, his response was to try a different approach and began recording an album in his London flat with his musician / composer brother, Oliver.  Credere was the end product and the brothers quickly decided that they wanted to record another, using mostly their own material.  It’s unusual for classical crossover artists to record known material and although The Journey does contain this, the majority is (mainly Oliver’s) original compositions.  Of this choice, Thomas says “we wanted to find our own voice, our own material, our own style of music”.

The result is a unique sounding album that lulls you into thinking you know where this musical journey is going to take you; it’s only when you’re a few songs into the album that you realise this is not taking you in the expected direction at all which for me, is great.  There is something for everyone on this album, whether new to classical crossover or not although, as we know from Alfie Boe, there’s only two kinds of music, good and bad; part of what makes good music good is the unexpected (and goodness knows Alfie Boe in particular is nothing if not unpredictable) and it’s the original songs on this album that stand out.

The Journey is released on 23 June and this is a super busy time for Thomas as he is also coming to the end of a multi date project with choirs around the country.  Beginning in the middle of May, Thomas has been travelling the length and breadth of the country working and performing with community choirs.  Whether singing solos or as part of the tenor section, singing his own music or teaching and participating in workshops, Thomas says that “no two choirs sessions have been the same, each night is unique with differing abilities, ages, sizes…it’s nice to be kept on my toes”.  Most of the choirs have their own repertoire and Thomas gave a wry chuckle when he said that Bring Him Home and other Les Mis songs seemed to be perennial favourites with choirs – I expect he’s sung that a fair few times over the last few weeks.  Having said that, Thomas has also sung Gilbert and Sullivan and other musical theatre songs in the course of this tour and even learnt some Welsh folk songs courtesy of a week with Welsh male voice choirs.

When asked why a community choir tour, Thomas answered that “having sung in choirs all my life I felt it was a good way to get involved in community and to spend time talking about and performing music.  I’ve been lucky enough to train at some good places and it’s great to be able to share some vocal technique, biology of the voice and what I do before performing”.   Nearly all the songs on The Journey lend themselves to choral adaptations so it would be interesting to see if any of the choirs Thomas has worked with add any to their repertoire.

The Journey is available here:

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Will Barratt has been performing in London’s West End (Jersey Boys, Phantom, War of the Worlds, Producers) for a while now but he became someone to look out for amongst Alfie Boe fans when he understudied Alfie’s Billy Bigelow in ENO’s Carousel; he literally took over from Alfie half way through a show after Alfie came down with an ear infection.  Two more shows the next day followed, both to rave reviews. I interviewed Will after the end of the five week run and although he was quick to point out he had no expectation of performing the role, in the event that he did, said that “it was good to get on for a couple of shows together, like a preview and opening night in two shows”.  Additionally, Will said that although Alfie was sad to have to miss the show, he was “so pleased that I got on – he was dead happy for me”.  If you want to hear Will singing the soliloquy, click here for a pre-show talk and performance at ENO (soliloquy starts at 23m).

As Will’s only role in the production was to understudy Billy, I was keen to find out about the creative process and rehearsal period; how much was he involved?  It turns out that both Will and Molly Lynch, who understudied Katherine Jenkins as Julie, were as fully involved as Alfie and Katherine from day one.  Whoever plays the part, the blocking and direction is the same, it’s the thought processes of the actor that differs.  Will says that “Alfie, Katherine, Molly and I, we all got on, we worked through stuff together…Alfie was also going through the process of figuring out the role, he didn’t know what it was on day one either.  We were all doing it together”.

Now, you might be wondering about the headline of this piece – Confessions of a Justified Sinner.  This is the title of Will’s self penned debut album, released in 2015 and showcases his seemingly effortless talent for singing, playing multiple instruments and song writing.  Of the songs themselves, Will says that “all the songs on this album contain bits of me, my life, history, wants and needs, aches and pains, ups and downs…they are my confessions”.  He leaves it up to us as to whether he is a justified sinner or not!

Being self penned, this album is not what you might expect from a musical theatre performer – there are a few songs that wouldn’t be out of place in a musical but on the whole, the songs are a mix of upbeat, rockier, pop and jazz with a hint of Americana that really get you up and out of your seat.  To me, a great song is one that you instantly sing along to or you can’t sit still to and both the opening track, Give Me Some Time and Demon, towards the end, had me up and dancing straight away.  These two songs, together with Fearless (below), a beautiful ballad and the almost Buble-esque Never Thought, are my favourite songs.  Interestingly, Give Me Some Time and Never Thought are songs originally written when Will was at school, just reworked and rearranged to give a more sophisticated sound.

Will’s fabulous voice handles all these styles with great versatility and is a joy to listen to.

Confessions of a Justified Sinner is available here:

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It’s no secret that Alfie Boe and Michael Ball, having had such a success with Together in 2016 are teaming up for a new album this year.  Now you can pre-order – and there’s a DVD available too!  Take a look at the video:

Click here to place your pre-order from the official store – what are you waiting for?

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Alfie Boe fans love to keep up with all things Alfie and one of the things that they often ask about is the charities he supports.  Alfie is either an ambassador or patron of several charities but one that is particularly close to his heart is the Trinity Hospice, located on the Fylde Coast.  Serving both adults and children, Trinity relies on fundraising to find all the £5 million annual costs.

Alfie became a patron several years ago after being approached by the fundraising team to see if he would consider becoming an official supporter of the hospice.  Alfie of course hails from Fleetwood – just up the road from the hospice – and press officer Shirley Morgan says they “were absolutely thrilled when we got not only a ‘yes’ , but the news that he would become a Patron”.  Since then, Alfie has supported Trinity with public messages of support which generates a lot of interest both locally and around the world; an example of this is the Trinity Tea Parties of the last couple of years in which Alfie urged everyone to “put the kettle on” raise money.  This aspect of Alfie’s support is crucial as donations increase dramatically whenever Alfie supports them publicly.  There is an increase in activity, which can be traced back to Alfie supporters who are a fabulously loyal bunch.  Many fans see it as a way of giving something back to a performer who brings them so much joy, and Trinity are very grateful for their generosity.

Aside from the public messages of support, Alfie also takes time to support Trinity in less obvious ways.  One such way was about a month ago,  when Shirley Morgan had a call from the nurses at the hospice to say that one of the patients – a long time Alfie fan – had become very ill, and her family had been talking about how much Alfie’s music had meant to her. She had even named her medicine pump after him! It was a Friday lunchtime, but Shirley called Alfie’s team at Vector, in the hope that a few words of support from Alfie could be passed along to the patient.  In Shirley’s words, this is what happened next:

I knew it was a big ask because he was due on stage in Carousel that night – but his team said they would see what they could do. I had to leave work a bit early to drive my son home from school, but as I stepped through my front door at 6pm my phone pinged. It was a message from Alfie’s team, and I immediately thought I must write it down and get it back to the hospice as soon as I can. But when I opened the email and looked more closely I realised it was actually a video, recorded for our patient that afternoon by Alfie, sending love and support. He said he would be thinking of her as he was on stage that night. I downloaded it onto my iPad and went back to the hospice. I wish I could tell you how much joy it brought, not just for the lady in question, but also for her family, who were at her bedside. If only I could have caught it on camera – she simply could not believe that he had gone to so much trouble and that she had him, talking directly to her, in her room, just as he was going on stage in London. It’s a moment I won’t forget. Sadly, she died a few days later. Her family gave me permission to share the story with you; until now we haven’t told anyone, but they want people to know how much it meant and what an amazing memory it has given them.

I don’t know about you but when I first heard that story I shed a tear or two, and I know I speak for all of you when I say a huge thank you to the family of the lady concerned and best wishes going forward.

As mentioned earlier, Alfie’s fans love to support his chosen charities so stay tuned as there will be more news about Alfie and Trinity in the next few weeks.

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