Boston Pops

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With less than two weeks until Alfie Boe’s Homecoming concert at Fleetwood, we’re down to the last two songs in our quest to find the fans favourite live song 2018!  Number two is a song that has only been sung live by Alfie, not recorded and it was a total surprise when Alfie appeared on TV on 31 December 2013:

Of course, it’s Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now and it’s a real corker, showing why Alfie’s version is making it’s third appearance in the live song poll.  In three years, it’s never been lower than number three.

We know that the music of Queen is important to Alfie and he was recently performing some with the Boston Pops.  Click here to see some tracks on YouTube.

Next week we look back at the top ten and reveal the song you chose as Alfie’s best live song.

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Alfie has just begun a hectic schedule of events with two nights at the Boston Pops – and regular guest reviewer, Roberta Kappus was there for us.  Here is what happened on Tuesday:

How can you not be totally entranced by a man who gives his all to every performance, whether it be for five minutes or two hours? Rock the Pops may have been a Boston Pops production but there is no doubt that the star was Alfie Boe.  Alfie rocked Boston brilliantly, totally deserving Keith Lockhart’s praise as “the most absurdly versatile musician I’ve ever met.”  We all knew that about Alfie but it was nice of Lockhart to acknowledge it.

The opening featured some Pete Townshend songs, starting with Baba O’Riley.  Appropriately Alfie’s next two songs were from Classic Quadrophenia which Alfie and Lockhart had performed at Tanglewood.  Perhaps to show the significance of Quad Alfie wore the same outfit as he had during that tour including the pin on the jacket.  His songs were 5:15 which was amazing and Love Reign O’er Me, performed with an intensity that only Alfie can achieve. Then a switch to The Rolling Stones and You Can’t Always Get What You Want and Sympathy for the Devil. Hauntingly beautiful and indicative of Alfie’s versatility was Nights In White Satin done as an instrumental with Alfie offstage over voicing it.  As usual, intermission came much too soon. The whole show went way too fast as is usually the case with Alfie’s performances.

The second half featured Led Zeppelin’s Goin’ To California, Who Wants To Live Forever (stunningly beautiful), We Are the Champions and the encore Sweet Home Alabama. With both We Are the Champions and Sweet Home, Alfie vigorously signalled to the audience to join him in singing and to get out of their seats; they did both. Standing ovations followed.

The Symphony Hall is a rather intimate venue and Alfie showed his ability to adapt to any environment.  He did not have the full stage for his performance but only the section that would comprise the very centre stage.  Alfie made full use of this area, bounding from one side to the other and constantly going to the edge of the stage and waving to familiar faces in the audience. There is no doubt that Alfie loves performing and certainly enjoys his audience. He includes them whenever possible and shows it throughout every performance.

Thank you Alfie Boe for an evening that only could have come from you.

Fabulous review Roberta – thank you!

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It’s shaping up to be busy few weeks in late Spring / early Summer for Alfie Boe; as well as the cruise, and a scattering of UK concerts, he is now announced for two concerts with Boston Pops as part of their spring season.  The concerts take place on May 15 and 16, Rock the Pops with Alfie Boe and tickets go on sale on Monday 26 February, 10am EST, click here.

As we know from Classic Quadrophenia, rock music combined with a symphony orchestra produces a simply sensational sound, one that particularly suits the operatically trained tenor of Alfie.  Suggested tracks include those from Pink Floyd, The Who, Queen, the Rolling Stones and Alfie’s favourites, Led Zeppelin but I’m sure there will be lots more to enjoy too!  Alfie has of course performed with Boston Pops recently, rocking Tanglewood with Pete Townshend’s Classic Quadrophenia. 

Hopefully, some of the fans Alfie gained from his Tanglewood performance will be able to return to see him again, not to mention those US fans who are super keen to see more and more of Alfie in concert.  You never know, perhaps the future will see Alfie perform at other symphonic venues across the USA?

Tickets are on sale from 10am EST 26 February – click here.

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Saturday 2 September was the first date on the five date US tour of Pete Townshend’s Classic Quadrophenia. Two years on from the world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall, the show bounded onto the US stage at Tanglewood and featured the Boston Pops orchestra and choir, conducted by Keith Lockhart (Robert Ziegler, original conductor of both the concert and recording, will replace Lockhart for the remaining dates).  This concert was something that many US fans had hoped fervently would happen and our regular stateside reporter, Roberta Kappus, was among them.  Here is her review:

It was apparent early on that the audience was familiar with both Quadrophenia and it’s classical partner as  they not only knew all the words but also the music as evidenced by the applause  and verbal approval at several points before the vocals began.  I love the orchestration.  It is lush, lavish, rich and Lockhart and the Boston Pops did it justice. The audience showed its knowledge and appreciation throughout by cheering and applauding as certain segments achieved the anticipated expression and/or punch.

People had driven hundreds of miles to see this. They had come from other countries. For most of them Pete Townshend and Billy Idol were the drawing cards; Boe was an unknown quantity even though a Classic Quadrophenia album had been released two years earlier. Reflecting this, both Townshend and Idol were greeted on stage by thunderous applause.  However, with the power of his voice and intense energy Boe held his own when performing with these two giants; indeed, as Townshend has said on several occasions most of the vocal work falls to Boe.  The mutual respect Townshend, Idol and Boe have for each other was palpable during the performance. As someone else commented, we watched “…a world class tenor slide on his knees across a stage ending up at Pete’s feet.” It was an evening filled with amazing moments and this was one of them.

It was also an evening marked at certain points with camaraderie and just plain fun.  Part of Boe’s choreography is a side to side bounce going from one foot to the other.  This, along with other jumps and spins that Boe has frequently incorporated into other performances propelled Boe around the stage last night with Townshend and even Lockhart joining in from the podium.  Townshend went so far as to add a ballet spin with one arm curved over his head at the end of a side stepping moment and then gave Boe a kiss on the forehead before leaving the stage.  When I saw Boe at the stage door after the show (he was kind enough to stop and sign programmes and tickets) I asked him if he had had as much fun on stage as it seemed. He responded that this performance had been a lot of fun for all of them.

Looking back it almost seemed as though the first half had been a test which Boe and Lockhart had passed.  After the intermission they returned to the stage together to huge applause which had not been there at the start of the programme.  During the second half the audience was more than ready to help by singing the rest of the songs. Anyone familiar with Boe knows he loves audience participation and this was no different.  He was signalling with hand gestures for people to join in which they did; the audience was singing the choir’s parts, Boe was responding and everyone was having a good time.  Lockhart even joined in, clapping along while conducting.

Climaxing the show was Love Reign O’er Me with its brilliant symphonic intro.  Boe’s vocal power and range, his intensity, his immersion into the part resulted in a performance that can only be described as an unequalled tour de force that brought the audience to its feet where they remained through the curtain call, the presentation of the flowers to all the principals (with everyone but Fuller and Lockhart tossing them into the audience) and the encore which was The Real Me with everyone on stage singing it.  The standing ovation continued through everyone’s departure from the stage including the orchestra and choir. It was as though a spell had been cast over everyone inside the Shed and no one wanted to be the first one to break it.

Wow, what a fabulous review Roberta, sounds like everyone had a great time…and I’m sure Alfie came away with a lot of new fans.  Here’s a short video from the evening:

Classic Quadrophenia is available here:

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Two years after the triumphant world premiere of Pete Townshend’s Classic Quadrophenia (CQ) Alfie Boe and Billy Idol return to join Townshend in a limited run of US dates (click here for tickets).  Kicking off at Tanglewood on 2 September, the show will play two nights (9 – 10 September) at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York before finishing at The Greek Theatre, LA on 16 September.  Keith Lockhart will conduct at Tanglewood with the Boston Pops Orchestra and this will be familiar to Alfie as he has previously worked with both, when he recorded with them for their 2005 Christmas album, Sleigh Ride.  The original CQ conductor, Robert Ziegler will conduct for the other performances.

 

Alfie says that he is “thrilled to be joining Classic Quadrophenia for a limited run of US shows” and I confidently predict that quite a lot of Alfie fans will be thrilled too!  Since CQ was announced as a project in late 2014, US fans have been extremely keen to see Alfie perform this music and I urge everyone with the slightest chance of seeing it to beg, steal or borrow but basically do whatever it takes to see Alfie in the role of Jimmy – I would love to see it again.  An added bonus is the presence of Billy Idol, who was a surprising highlight for me at the original show.

When I first interviewed Alfie about CQ, he had yet to perform the show and I asked him about the recording process.  Apparently, Alfie said, it took “a good few hours.  The sound is almost like a live recording of my vocals as it was really flowing, we were really in the groove”.  I asked Alfie how difficult it was to sing and although some parts are trickier than others, the most difficult for him was getting the emotional intensity right.  “It’s an emotional piece and you have to understand what you are singing and the emotional intent behind it and then you’re alright”.

The Who’s historic rock opera Quadrophenia was of course originally released as an extensive double album in 1973 and has stood the test of time as a conceptual work honouring the Mod movement. The album, later turned into a feature film and theatrical production, follows an angst-ridden young man in London who creates a new life for himself as a member of the Mods.  Talking about the classical incarnation, Pete Townshend says ““I’m thrilled to be bringing Classic Quadrophenia stateside through the month of September. Melding the contrasting sounds of Quadrophenia with a symphony has been a really unique and powerful way to reach a wide audience of classical and pop music lovers alike. I couldn’t be more excited to see it continue in the U.S.”

Tickets go on sale on 13 June – click here.

 

Saturday, September 2          Lenox, MA             Tanglewood

Saturday, September 9          New York, NY        Metropolitan Opera House

Sunday, September 10           New York, NY        Metropolitan Opera House

Saturday, September 16        Los Angeles, CA     The Greek Theatre

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Advent is upon us and we are fast counting down to Christmas!  It’s the time of year when we can listen to our favourite Christmas music without feeling guilty that it’s the wrong time of year so I thought that it was high time we revived thoughtsofjustafan’s Alfie Boe album of the month with Home for the Holidays.  In the absence of an Alfie Christmas album, I’ve been listening to the CD and watching the DVD for a good few weeks now – you’re not going to tell me I’m the only one surely?

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s (MoTab) annual Christmas concerts invite world renowned classical singers as their special guests (Bryn Terfel and Katherine Jenkins have appeared in recent years).  The concerts are filmed and shown on TV before being released on CD and DVD the following year – it takes a while to edit and it then makes sense to wait until nearer Christmas to release the finished product.  Alfie appeared at these concerts in 2012 which was made all the more special as he and Sarah have a home in Salt Lake City; one of the most moving parts of the concert was Alfie thanking the audience for “bringing me home”, a neat link in to his most famous song.

A few views for this video…a cool 1.6 million!

As much as I love Bring Him Home, my favourite songs from Home for the Holidays are I Wonder as I Wander and Angels, From the Realms of Glory.  The former features John Rutter’s arrangement (also seen on Alfie’s 2007 Onward album).  A behind the scenes interview with the musical directors of the concert shows that Alfie was initially reluctant to perform this song, but I’m so glad he did.

If you don’t yet own this on CD (and only 37% of fans did in our 2014 poll) then you are missing out.  It’s available here:

home for the holidays

Only 43% of fans owned the DVD which may have something to do with the fact that it’s not readily available in the UK.  Click below to buy from Deseret Books (where Alfie did a signing session the following year).  As far as I am aware, it’s playable in the UK – I bought it from Deseret and it works just fine.

home for the holidays

I have a copy of this album to give away to one lucky reader who can answer this question:

Who wrote I Wonder as I Wander?

The competition is now closed!  The lucky winner (picked at random) is Ann Warren!  Please click here to send me your details.

This competition is open to everyone, not just UK residents (although I can’t say whether you will receive it for Christmas, due to the vagaries of the postal system)!  I’ll even throw in a copy of Sleigh Ride, the Boston Pop album that features Alfie on O Holy Night!

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