Bring Him Home

All posts tagged Bring Him Home

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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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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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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As August winds to a close and Classic Quadrophenia in USA gets closer (less than a week!), it’s time for another look at your favourite Alfie Boe songs.  This week it’s the turn of Helen Linden, who first heard Alfie sing in 2010 at the Les Miserables 25th anniversary concert. Helen says “I’d never even heard of Alfie Boe up to this point – it was my then sixteen year old daughter who persuaded me to go with her to see Marius as she was a massive Nick Jonas fan.  That’s when I discovered Alfie and have been a fan ever since.

These are Helen’s six sensational songs:

Caruso, chosen “because I love the tone of Alfie’s voice for this dramatic song. It’s a powerful melody and how Alfie manages to fit in all the words, I’ll never know! It was a favourite of my Dad’s when Pavarotti used to sing it but I think Alfie does it better.”

Chitarra Romana, added to Helen’s list of favourites when Alfie performed it at the MEN arena in Manchester. It was just a joy to hear Alfie singing this upbeat song on the sofa with Murray and the rest of the band.

The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face, chosen because it’s one of Helen’s favourite songs and “when I heard Alfie singing the first line….followed by ‘I was sick’, I just roared with laughter. It took Alfie a while to get back ‘n the zone’ but love how he doesn’t take himself too seriously.”  I couldn’t find that particular video so I included another where he was clearly enjoying himself with a laugh.

Volare, chosen because “I just love this song and Alfie’s interaction with the audience during this one. I even brought Castanets to play during one of the shows!”

Love Reign O’er Me, from Classic Quad.  As Helen says, “not an easy song to sing but Alfie just nails it. And that last note. Well, what can I say?”  Having written about this song for to years now, I agree that there aren’t enough superlatives to do justice to Alfie’s voice on this song and indeed the whole album.

The song that started it all for Helen: “I first heard Alfie sing this back in 2010 at the O2 for the Les Miserables 25th anniversary concert. I’d never even heard of Alfie Boe up to this point.  But I was hooked, just like so many others after hearing Alfie Bring Him Home. It’s my favourite favourite Alfie song and I never get tired of hearing him sing it.”

Love Reign O’er Me and Bring Him Home now tie with A Living Prayer as the most chosen songs for your choice of Alfie Boe’s Six Sensational Songs and nice to see three new songs in this series.  Thanks Helen for sharing your songs with us.  If you would like to share your six sensational songs with us, please fill in the form:

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The latest in our series of Alfie Boe sensational songs comes from Lee Kelly.  Lee first became aware of Alfie shortly after the 25th anniversary Les Mis concert and was spellbound.  She’s since been lucky enough to see him live a few times and met him in New York on 28 February last year. In her words, she was a “quivering wreck”! These are Lee’s choices:

Trust, chosen simply because Lee loves the album.

Wayfaring Stranger – love the fun Alfie’s having in this video!  Lee chose this song because of the “haunting words”.

Tell Me It’s Not True, chosen as “Blood Brothers is my husband’s favourite musical and hearing Alfie sing Tell Me It’s Not True is wonderful”,

Run – Lee chose this as she has “always liked this song and Alfie takes it to another level”.

Bring Him Home, chosen as Lee says “Alfie makes every hair stand on end every time I hear him sing this” – I think we all agree!

Rank Stranger

Thanks for sharing your favourite songs with us Lee.

If you would like to share your favourite Alfie songs with us, please fill in the form!

The summer tour is over but no need to cry because we are in the rather unusual position of having lots to look forward to!  Performances in three countries, a new album, we’re in danger of being rather spoilt in the latter half of 2017.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at six more sensational songs, this time from Karen Rogers.  I first met Karen, very briefly, at a Storyteller album signing in London’s Oxford Street and since then we have run into each other at several concerts, culminating in a memorable evening in Bournemouth last year.  Ball and Boe were the warm up act for an absolutely hilarious evening with our Boe Buddies – how many Alfie Boe fans can you get into a single hotel room was the name of the game!  Here are Karen’s six songs:

A Living Prayer, which appears in this series for the fourth time now.  Karen says “I’m not religious in any shape or form but absolutely love this song. The words, even as a non believer are so very beautiful. The video that accompanies the song is lovely too and adds to the emotion.”

Bring Him Home at the 25th anniversary concert.  Karen says that she chose it because “as Alfie’s signature song how could I not include it? However the reason I chose it was because of the memories it evokes. I never thought I would get to see Alfie, live, in Les Miserables but when he announced he would be reprising the role in New York I knew I had to get there. I went with the lovely Carole Hunt and we saw him 4 times. Each time was as special as the first. The picture in my head of him sat at the barricade with Marius at his side asleep as he sings it brings tears to my mind every time. Very special times.”  We don’t have footage of his stage appearances so I chose this video as the next best thing.

Doctor Jimmy, from Classic Quadrophenia – what a fabulous evening that was.  Karen says “I absolutely love this song for the totally shallow reason that Alfie says the f’ word!!! I know its awful to admit but I do. The raw emotion as he swears is amazing. As the wife of a Who fan who was totally bowled over by Alfie’s performance at the RAH I cannot put into words how special it all was.”

Run – Karen’s choice because “it’s a fabulous song with wonderful words but given the Alfie Boe treatment becomes an all time great anthem.”

It’s Only Love – another song that gets me up and dancing every time!  Karen chose it as she “absolutely adored Alfie on the Storyteller Tour. It is as a Rock God that I adore him the most.His performance of the song as he charged from side of the stage to the other, jumping on the speakers in those tight jeans was sublime.”

O Sole Mio / Now or Never at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  Karen says “again it shows his versatility as he goes from classic to rock and roll. The highlight for me of the Queens Jubilee. Rocking out in his tight black jeans (I do love him in tight jeans!) and lovely black shirt. Doing what no one expected him to do and bringing the house down in the process. Fantastic!”

Thanks Karen for six very different choices – I love seeing the songs people choose and the reasons why.

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We’ve done it, we’ve counted down to the 2017 Best Ever Alfie Boe song so let’s take a look at the top ten so far:

10 – Parlami D’amore Mariu

9 – In My Daughter’s Eyes

8 – Wheels of a Dream

7 – Forever Young

6 – Anthem

5 – Addio Sogni Di Gloria

4 – Keep Me In Your Heart

3 – Love Reign O’er Me

2 – Rank Strangers

And so that leaves only one song at the top and it’s no surprise that after two years at number four, Bring Him Home returns to the top:

This was the first time I heard Alfie sing Bring Him Home live.

Bring Him Home, is without question Alfie’s most popular and famous song.  The vast majority of fans who have come to know Alfie since 2010 (myself included) have done so through Les Miserables, Jean Val Jean and Bring Him Home – Alfie’s star really was born at the 25th anniversary concert.  Everything that has come since started on that day and ensures that Alfie will continue to sing Bring Him Home for as long as the demand is there…forever!  Of course the problem with this is I find it really difficult to write anything at all about Bring Him Home.   So, instead of my thoughts, let’s go back to what Alfie said about it in his autobiography:

It is such a spiritual song, it’s so special.  When Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil wrote it they must have been so excited…It is a prayer, it’s actually called The Prayer, it’s not officially called Bring Him Home and I treat it as such every time I sing it.  I pray.  That’s what makes it work.

Interestingly, when I interviewed Alfie for the Club 24601 series in 2015, although he mentioned Bring Him Home as being a great song, he actually picked the Soliloquy as the song with the greatest emotional and vocal range.

Thank you for sending in your suggestions and voting – I love seeing the different songs that make it into the top ten each year.  Enjoy the summer concerts – click here if you haven’t yet got a ticket.

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Recently returned from Cape Town where he created the role of John Crichton-Stuart in the new musical Tiger Bay, a role written especially for him no less, John Owen-Jones tomorrow releases a compilation album, Bring Him Home.  A mix of musical theatre songs taken from three previous albums,  John Owen-Jones (2009, Unmasked (2012) and Rise (2015), there are also three new tracks to delight fans: Maria, Why God Why and Suddenly.  In addition to this, John is soon to embark on a short solo tour of Wales – click here for dates and venues.  All in all, with Tiger Bay moving to Cardiff in November and a trip stateside in September, 2017 is shaping up to be a busy year for John.

Given his super busy schedule, it was a delight to catch up with John over coffee this week to talk about the new album although of course, you’ll forgive us if we strayed onto all things Les Mis.  Like Alfie, it was through Les Mis that I first became aware of John – the Valjean Quartet at the 25th concert to be precise.  Talking about that incredible moment where Alfie first starts singing, John says that “being in the room when we first rehearsed that and everyone’s hair was blow off when Alfie hit that top note”.  Lovely to hear that the other Valjean’s thought that as it’s the same for most of us too.  As for Alfie, Les Mis is the show in which John first rose to prominence; at 26 he was the youngest actor to play Valjean.  He says of this time on Broadway that “I was very lucky at 26 that I had the chance to play Jean Valjean and I grabbed it with both hands”.   Since then he has returned to the role several times, most recently on Broadway again and for a short run in Dubai and doesn’t rule out another stint in the future “if the opportunity is there again, why not?”

Of the three new tracks on Bring Him Home, one is related to Les Mis and that is Suddenly, the song that was added to the movie version and as yet, has not been recorded by many people.  As such, it sounds fresh and exciting which is no mean feat for a song from a thirty year old musical that everyone is familiar with.  In understated style, John calls the song ” a nice little tune” and it fits in perfectly with the theme of this album which draws heavily on John’s roles with both Les Mis and Phantom, both of which are huge in Japan.  John has played several sell out shows there and in once concert last year, John says that the audience refused to leave the auditorium until he came back for a further encore – the musical director came back on stage without shoes and socks!

As for the other new tracks, Maria was chosen as West Side Story was the first show in which John was ever on stage and is a song he’s always wanted to record as a result.  Apparently it took him this long to actually do it because his mum’s not keen on the song but “she can skip that one”.  Great choice of song – despite there being many versions of this song out there, John’s acting ability enables him to bring an emotional depth that is not always heard.  Similarly personal, Why God Why from Miss Saigon was the song John performed at his audition for drama school and is a song that he has performed live for a long time.

As mentioned earlier, next week sees John embark on a short solo tour of Wales and he says that the set list will consist of mainly musical theatre songs with one or two others in the mix as well.  A number of local choirs will be joining John, not to mention Rhys Meirion in Rhyl and other guest artists.  Sounds fantastic!

Bring Him Home is released on Sain Records on 9 June and is available here:

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Welcome to the fourth in the occasional series celebrating Six Sensational Songs from Alfie Boe – each post features six songs chosen by a thoughtsofjustafan reader and this time it’s the turn of Sheila Currie.  Sheila first became an Alfie fan after seeing him in Les Mis on PBS and recently saw him in concert in New York, also having the opportunity to wish him well before the concert!  Sheila says about Alfie:

I could pick many more than six songs, certainly. Alfie Boe is someone who will not pass this way again in my lifetime. His voice goes in my ear directly to my heart.

Here we go with Sheila’s songs:

A Living Prayer, also chosen by Betty Valentine, was chosen by Sheila because “this was on the first CD I bought of Alfie’s after his Les Mis performance on PBS. I loved the video especially. He takes this song of Alison Krause to a hymn like quality.”

If I Loved You, from Carousel – this one might be very popular amongst Alfie fans these days!  Sheila says “I sang this song growing up in school choir and it just pulls at my heartstrings.”

Bridge Over Troubled Water was chosen by Sheila as it ” reminded me of my early married life during Vietnam era. I loved it then just as much”.

Forever Young, chosen  because “Alfie’s reworking of this Dylan song to remind us of those who have sacrificed for us was incredible, especially the PBS Memorial Day concert”.

Fratello Sole, Sorella Luna, also chosen by Betty Valentine, was chosen by Sheila  because “this beautiful song reminds me of my voice teacher and her passion for Italian opera”.

Where’er You Walk.  As Sheila says “An old song but I can still sing it as if it was just yesterday.

Thank you Sheila for sharing your six sensational songs with us.

If you would like to see your favourite songs featured here, complete the form below, telling me your six songs and why they are your favourites.  

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Less than a month to go until American fans get the chance to see Alfie Boe and Michael Ball live in concert for one night only! The UK’s biggest selling artists of 2016, who scored the Christmas number one album no less, are appearing at the New York City Center on May 23 for one night only – tickets are still available, albeit going fast, so click here to ensure you don’t miss out.  Introduce a friend to the music of Ball and Boe – get two tickets and you get a copy of Together thrown in!

The duo have many US fans and are thrilled to have the opportunity to perform songs from Together – who knows, they might sing something that features on the next album! Alfie in particular, has ‘test driven’ a number of songs before recording in recent years.

So why New York you might ask.  One answer might be that both Michael and Alfie have appeared on Broadway and are well known by audiences there; furthermore, their chart topping album, Together, was recorded there last year. Alfie first appeared on Broadway way back in 2002 as Rodolfo in Baz Luhrman’s La Boheme; at the time, an operatic career beckoned and was duly embarked upon for the next few years before the life changing 25th anniversary concert of Les Mis came along.  It was Les Mis that brought Alfie back to Broadway in 2015, taking over from fellow Les Mis 25th star Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean for a five month run – he handed over to John Owen-Jones who was part of the Valjean quartet at Les Mis 25.  Following on from that, Alfie went into a short stint in Finding Neverland.

Michael’s first Broadway role was in 1990 when he originated Alex in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love (he also originated the role in London).   Then came a break of fifteen years whilst concert, TV and UK based theatre work took precedence although when he did return, in 2005, it was to two productions in quick succession – the first was for New York City Opera, Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience.  The role that took him back to a Broadway musical was Count Fosco in The Woman in White, again for Andrew Lloyd Webber.

For two such amazing voices, the set list for this concert could be endless, such is the variety of their repertoire but I would suggest that two songs guaranteed to make the final list are their most famous songs and ones that have been sung at almost every concert the pair have ever given: Bring Him Home and Love Changes Everything.

Bring Him Home as part of Les Mis Medley  – first night of the UK tour 2016:

Love Changes Everything:

If you’re looking to make the concert that extra bit more special, VIP meet and greet tickets are available too – click here.

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