Song number three is last year’s number one, Love Reign O’er Me from Classic Quadrophenia (CQ):

This song, perhaps more than any other from Classic Quadrophenia, shows off Alfie’s vocal strength and versatility.  The high notes are just majestic, there’s no other word for it, whilst the quieter moments have such warmth and restraint.  Anyone who has been lucky enough to see Alfie sing this live will attest to the power of his voice.  Hearing it at the premiere of Classic Quad at the Royal Albert Hall was one of the best musical experiences of my life.  Quite simply took my breath away.

The song was originally performed by Roger Daltrey but here is Pete Townshend at Symfunny 2 last month:

Anyone who gets the chance to hear Alfie sing CQ in its entirety should grab it with both hands – he is absolutely sublime in the role.  As and when those chances become available, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Classic Quadrophenia is available here:

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For one night only, Alfie Boe and Michael Ball played to a US audience in New York City.  Our NYC reporter, Roberta Kappus was on hand and kindly sent this review:

After a four and a half month hiatus from the Together tour, Alfie Boe joined Michael Ball last night for the only US performance of this UK sellout show. Alfie’s return to the stage was as though he had never left. It was a show and performance worthy of Broadway. The singing was priceless, the dancing precisely synchronised  and the overall evening just amazing.

Alfie’s versatility and talent were on display throughout the show from the opening song of Somewhere to the closing song of New York, New York which was greatly appreciated by the New Yorkers in the audience and by the sound of the applause by many others. In between there was a full array of songs running from the classic Les Mis medley to Elvis Presley’s Suspicious Minds, a personal favourite, to Love Reign O’er Me, another favourite.  Two more additions to the UK set list were Anthem and Luck Be A Lady Tonight.  All were brilliant additions – if some songs were dropped I could not name them. Through the magic of Alfie’s voice I was just transported from one enthralling song to another during this incredible evening. There were numerous standing ovations, amongst them Anthem, Love Reign O’er Me, and the Les Mis medley.

Throughout the show Alfie was totally relaxed, very comfortable in his role as singer and entertainer and very much enjoying himself. Towards the beginning of Love Reign O’er Me there was a problem with the piano which Alfie noticed instantly. As technicians rushed onto the stage Alfie very comfortably went into several minutes of comedic ad libbing. Alfie was so successful in distracting the audience that several people around me thought it was part of the act. To me it was another example of Alfie’s assurance as an entertainer in capturing and holding the audience’s attention regardless of circumstances.

Anyone who had not previously seen this show would not have noticed that some of the comedic moments had been dropped. However the poor woman leaving for the ladies’ room was spotted and asked why she had not gone before the show by Alfie.  Alfie’s trouble mounting the chair and Michael’s assistance in the first act was replaced by Alfie simply sliding off a stool. However Michael’s praise of Alfie had Alfie running back onto the stage to give Michael a big kiss on the cheek to much laughter.

The show took place just 24 hours after the Manchester attack and before the show began, a moment of silence was observed.  Another sombre moment was acknowledged during the Bond medley when Sir Roger Moore’s (who passed away yesterday) photo was shown.

It was truly lovely to have Alfie in New York again. He more than lived up to the expectations I had from seeing Together in the UK. I was not alone as the audience showed its appreciation through numerous standing ovations. For me Alfie’s versatility as a singer, actor and entertainer was highlighted by the fact that I had just seen him ten days ago in English National Opera’s Carousel. I am still overwhelmed by the transition I witnessed from Billy Bigelow to Alfie Boe. What an evening to remember. Thank you, Alfie Boe and please come back.

Thank you Roberta for a truly wonderful review – New York, New York was the perfect song to end with.

Together is available here:

Click here to buy tickets for their Summer and Winter UK tour dates.

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In the twenty first century you might be forgiven for thinking that there’s no such thing as new sounds in music; after all, haven’t we already invented everything?  In most cases the answer might be yes but having listened to US band Kolars, it’s clear that the future of music innovation is well and truly kicking.  Their eponymous debut album, released this week, is a riot of genre defying songs that embrace country, guitar led Americana, glam rock, blues and folk music to name but a few.  Throw in new wave and punk and you start to see why the band (husband and wife Rob Kolar and Lauren Brown) describe their music with terms such as glam-a-billy, space blues and desert disco.  I spoke to them via skype last week and Lauren described this musical journey as “the way music is going in general – there are more genres and sub genres now, mixing genres to create new ones”.

The album is a product of Rob and Lauren coming together as a duo after the demise of their previous band, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister and as already mentioned, represents many different genres derived from numerous and somewhat eclectic musical influences.  I asked both about their musical influences and Rob in particular, as the writer, named just about every type of music since the 1950’s – and what he didn’t, Lauren did.  As a writer, Rob says he is influenced by a lot of UK music as well as blues and this is reflected in the construction of the songs on the album.  Upon first listen, the album is clearly innovative musically but strip that away and the songs are well constructed that would work perfectly well as acoustic tracks.  The opening track, One More Thrill, exemplifies this – and look out for fabulous drumming from Lauren:

Rob says about the origins of One More Thrill, “it started out on acoustic guitar and then turned into a kind of Springsteen anthem and then new wave and punk elements were added.  I learnt to be open to all genres of music and not be pigeon holed”.  I can definitely say that this album cannot be pigeon holed!

Taken as a whole, all the songs have a strong percussive element which is to be expected with one half of the band having such a distinctive drumming style – when asked about the music she didn’t like, Lauren’s answers were all related to artists with “awful drum sounds”.  Additionally, catchy hooks mean that you’ll be hearing the songs for days afterwards.  The glam rock influences are apparent too and it’s no surprise to learn that Rob’s favourite period musically turns out to be “glam rock, T Rex, Bowie, it includes pop, great hooks and then you’ve got the androgyny, fun fashion, great drum sounds”.  A couple of the songs have definite Bowie moments but with this album, just when you think you’ve got a handle on the music, the tracks take a sharp turn into something totally different. This album challenges you musically whilst remaining very listenable.

Kolars is available here:

Catch Kolars at their remaining live dates – click here.

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With just over a week since Alfie Boe ended his acclaimed run in Carousel, fans could be forgiven for being  a bit lost; however, the arrival of number four in our Best Ever Alfie Boe song poll means that we’re only a few short weeks away from seeing Alfie performing in the summer Together tour. Of course, if you’re a US based fan and can get to New York City tomorrow evening you could see Alfie (and Michael Ball) very soon – click here to buy tickets – you know you want to!

Song number four in our countdown is one that occupies a very special place in my heart – and many of yours too it seems – and means that I will forever be associated with buttons on blouses!  Dipping out of the top ten last year, Keep Me In Your Heart made it’s debut at number two in the 2015  poll.

This is of course Alfie’s version of Warren Zevon’s 2003 song and you can find out more about the original here, as well as seeing the fan video that Alfie made.  Alfie has performed Keep Me In Your Heart at many concerts since it was released and usually incorporates an audience singalong; rarely, aside from the Huawei Winter concert in December 2014, does he perform the song ‘straight’.  An exception was the last night of the Together tour:

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We have arrived at the half way stage of the fourth annual Alfie Boe best ever song poll and number five is a song that, having reached the top of this poll in 2015, missed the top ten altogether last year.  I’m of course talking about Addio Sogni Di Gloria:

From the 2015 album, Serenata, this song showcases Alfie’s glorious voice to perfection – one day I hope to hear him sing it again.

The song was originally recorded by Italian singer Luciano Virgili and written by Italian Carlo Innocenzi who wrote music for many Italian films from the 1940’s onward.  Translated, the title means Goodbye, Dreams of Glory and the poignancy of the song sits effortlessly against the glorious soaring melody.  The version I’ve chosen is by Giuseppe Di Stefano, whom Alfie has referenced as being a favourite of his in several interviews.  Not having listened to Di Stefano before I heard Alfie talk about him, I’ve now listened to a fair amount of his work and I have to agree with Alfie – Di Stefano has a wonderful voice:

Serenata is available here:

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The ride on the ENO Carousel with Alfie Boe and Katherine Jenkins is over and despite the sadness that it’s over, I’m left with an overwhelmingly lovely bunch of memories from these five weeks; Alfie was on top form as Billy Bigelow, I’ve had some fantastic stage door experiences and best of all, I got to share it with fabulous friends.  It also seems that Alfie thoroughly enjoyed the experience, judging from Instagram:

The role of Billy Bigelow will remain with me for the rest of my life. Thank you to all who helped me channel this complex character. I love bringing role to life but as a performer, we must remember “You’ll never be bigger than the show you’re in.” And my favourite line in the show is “Don’t be scared of people who don’t like you, just try liking them!” Love to you all.

Great choice of favourite line Alfie – perfectly demonstrates the overall theme of Carousel, redemption.  Thinking back over the shows I’ve seen, I think it is the story of redemption that will stay with me as much as the nuanced performance that Alfie gave, especially the further the run went on.  Alfie’s vocals were of course immaculate, that was never in doubt, but to see the subtle changes in his performance was something special and showed he really understood the flawed character he was portraying.  I’m really hoping that this is not the last time we see Alfie in a musical or even, a return to an operatic role.

Now, the competition winners! To celebrate both Carousel and thoughtsofjustafan’s third birthday, I’ve got five signed Carousel programmes to give away and the five lucky winners who knew that Alfie recorded Barcelona with Katherine in 2014 are:

Rhonda Greenwood

Pat Davies

Simmi Parkinson

Hazel Mackel

Jo Sorsby

Congratulations – send me your address details and I’ll get them sent out.  Here are Alfie and Katherine singing Barcelona in Edinburgh:

Alfie can next be seen at the New York City Center on May 23rd  – performing with Michael Ball, for one night only – click here to get your tickets now.

I’ll finish with one of my favourite moments from these five weeks – forgive the indulgence!

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The BBC today announced the ambassadors for their third annual BBC Music Day which takes place on 15 June (rescheduled from 9 June due to the unexpected general election).   Alfie has been named as one of the 2017 ambassadors alongside Shaun Ryder, Ozzy Osbourne, Will Young, The Courteneers, Miles Kane, Jazmin Sawyers, YolanDa Brown, She Takes The Gun and Mica Paris – each year so far, the event has had different ambassadors. Ricky Wilson of The Kaiser Chiefs took part in 2015.

The aim of the event is to celebrate music and unite communities and generations with a host of music events around the UK – Texas will play a free concert in Glasgow on 9 June whilst 800 children in Bradford will try to break the world record for Tamboo Bamboo on Music Day itself.  Perhaps more to Alfie’s liking will be the children’s world drumming record attempt in Portsmouth.  Additionally, schools will be taking part as will bell ringers all around the world.

Alfie said about the event:

As someone from a classical background, who is a fan of rock, folk, funk, it’s wonderful to see artists and fans up and down the country celebrating the diversity of genres we have in UK music

Alfie is the perfect example of someone who is not constrained by genre – as we well know, he has the versatility to sing a wide range of styles and has introduced many of us, myself included to many new singers and styles of music.  He’s the perfect choice for a music ambassador.

The exciting part for Alfie fans is that he will be unveiling his very own blue plaque at the Marine Hall, Fleetwood! Times to be announced but if you fancy a day trip to Fleetwood, tomorrow’s the day.

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Number six of the 2017 Best Ever Alfie Boe Song is the only song from Alfie’s 2016 collaboration with Michael Ball, Together:

Anthem did not feature on the set list for the live shows but obviously made an impression on fans – I know that many fans have wanted Alfie to record the song for a long time.

Anthem is one of the most famous songs (although for me, I have more of an affection for the Elaine Paige / Barbara Dickson song I Know Him So Well) from the Tim Rice, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus musical, Chess, which opened in London in 1986 before closing three years later.  A subsequent Broadway production was much less successful.  Prior to either show, a concept album was released, from which Paige and Dickson’s recording derives as Dickson was unable to open in the London production.  The other leads, Paige, Tommy Korberg and Murray Head all appeared; Anthem is sung by Korberg’s character.

The song has become a musical theatre standard and has been recorded by many artists, usually male, but here it is with a female voice, Kerry Ellis, who recorded Come What May with Alfie a few years ago:

I’m thinking that Alfie would love this rockier version with Brian May on guitar!

Next week we’ll be half way to the top!

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As a leading lady of both London’s West End and Broadway, Rachel Tucker is used to being centre stage but always as part of an ensemble, never before as a solo artist.  All that is set to change however, with a thirteen date solo tour around the UK beginning in her home town of Belfast on 13 May.  The first date sold out quickly which was, as Rachel said when I interviewed her a month ago, “a real thrill…I don’t get back often so it’s great how quick the tickets went”.

Rachel is probably best known for long running roles in Wicked, having risen to fame as a finalist on the BBC One show I’d Do Anything, subsequently performing at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Birthday In The Park show in London’s Hyde Park and later taking on a range of roles in some of the West End’s best shows, before making her Broadway debut in The Last Ship, a new musical written by the rock icon Sting.

As an established musical theatre star, I was keen to find out if Rachel’s set list would mostly consist of songs from that genre.  Not necessarily so, although Rachel says she was “brought up on old classic Hollywood, Gene Kelly type musicals so there will be some musical songs there”.  Rachel went on to say that her own taste is rather more eclectic, a mixture of classic jazz, soul and pop and hopes that at least half the finished set list will be upbeat jazz and soul.  It transpires that in preparation for this tour, Rachel has been listening to a lot of music which might not be a surprise for a singer but in fact, she say she doesn’t listen to much music outside the theatre as it’s her job (I totally get that – reviewing music sometimes leaves me in a position to say no more).  Choosing a set list seems to be something less than a walk in the park too; Rachel said that she “didn’t realise how hard it would be.  After four weeks rehearsal we only just got to the point where we decided what the songs should be and in what order.  Some songs are amazing but don’t work amongst the rest of the set and we’re having some guest artists so in some shows the set list will be different”. Those recently announced as guests are Oliver Tompsett (Horsham and Live at Zedel), Samantha Barks (Live at Zedel) and fellow Wicked star Louise Dearman (Bury St. Edmunds).

As this is Rachel’s first excursion into a show where the emphasis is all on her solo performance, I was intrigued to find out how she would deal with possible nerves. Although pressure as a solo performer was mentioned, Rachel was quick to say that doing her own music was “much more satisfying, more thrilling as an artist” as opposed to being part of a show.  Additionally, Rachel thought she would feel more nervous than when part of a show, one reason being that in a lot of the venues, the stage is very close to the audience.  Having said that, Rachel has been singing in such places since she was a child and says that it makes it easier to “look the audience in the eye and tell a story”.

Rachel Tucker’s tour starts in Belfast on May 13 and continues until June 10 in Birmingham – click here for dates and tickets.

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This week sees the first of our two entries from Trust and is the third appearance in the Best Alfie Boe song top ten for Forever Young:

This was of course Alfie’s appearance at the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance in 2013 – introduced by presenter Huw Edwards as a “great friend of the festival”, Alfie has appeared numerous times, including last year with Michael Ball.

Forever Young first appeared in the top ten in 2015 at number nine, slipped back to number ten last year and now records it’s highest position – perhaps it will be even higher next year?

Alfie loves the writer of this song, Bob Dylan, but regular readers will know that he does absolutely nothing for me – I’m a lost cause I think!  It’s not the song, it’s the voice, so here is a version I liked more:

Yet another song I have had the pleasure of discovering thanks to Alfie – my musical education has gone in some unexpected directions in the last five years!

Trust is available here:

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