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The first night of the Australian Ball and Boe tour is over and before the show moves on to Melbourne, here is Margie McKay-Lowndes’ review.  Many of you will know that Margie has three times flown to London from down under to see Alfie in concert, so it is all the more fitting that the first review of the first show is hers:

Right from the get-go our boys held the audience in the palm of their hand. Somewhere and Tonight kicked us off with For Once in My Life rounding off the lively beginning, the audience now clapping to the rhythm and singing along. It was very clear that Michael and Alfie were happy to be here in Brisbane in our beautiful Concert Hall, which was almost filled to capacity: the stalls were booked out, and about half the balcony.

All the renditions were powerful and moving; the first of many highlights was You’re the Voice. There was an audible collective gasp of surprise and pleasure from the audience, who sang out every word of this moving, powerful, unofficial Aussie national anthem. The Ball and Boe rendition is destined to makes waves across the nation, I’m sure. Into the Elvis medley, where the audience were standing, dancing, clapping and loving every moment. The boys were having a great time as well, with all the sound on point, (at least to my ears). The orchestra was a mix of UK and Aussie musicians with Murray there as well. The back-up singers delivered particularly melodious harmonies – a very warm sound.

During all of this fabulous feast of music the fans in the front (where I was blessed to be seated about 1.5 m from where they were singing all evening) were enjoying it hugely, having not only met the stars at the Meet and Greet, but also meeting each other. Most of the fans that I met were Michael Ball fans, who were happy to have ‘discovered’ Alfie as well, although I met one elderly fan who was Team Alfie through and through, and there were certainly several Alfie fans front and centre in the hall. The Meet and Greet was well organised with about 40 people lining up. We had an opportunity to have something signed, a professional photo taken, and were welcome to mill around until the whole thing was finished. I had intended to say welcome to Brisbane etc, but ended up telling them about a whole of other things they were probably not interested in!! It was so great to see Alfie again and I must say, both of them seemed to be in glowing good health.

The second half was even better than the first, if possible. They impressed with Stairway to Paradise, Me and My Shadow (hamming it up through the ‘dancing’), Luck be a Lady and New York, New York. Onto the Bond Medley: this one impressed my friend who had kindly purchased a ticket for me before discovering I had also purchased a ticket for myself – so she brought her husband and voila! they are now confirmed Alfie Fans. They just loved it. Keep me in your heart and surprisingly, Free Falling, a tribute to Tom Petty, was a highlight, as was Michael’s Gethsemane, which again brought the crowd to its feet. The fellow sitting next to me had his dream come true when Michael sang Love Changes Everything and of course, the Les Mis medley just blew everyone away. A Standing O brought them back for You’ll Never Walk Alone. Walking out of the hall, the conversations around me were very positive. Everyone seemed to be blown away and there was long queue for the CD, which sold out!

Off to wind down with my friend and her hubby over a glass of bubbles while we kept an eye on the Stage Door to see if they would make an appearance, but alas no. However, we couldn’t fault the whole evening – as the man on my other side (as well as Michael’s tweet) said – it just doesn’t get any better than this!!

Thanks so much Margie for a wonderful review.

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Another Saturday night, another city, this time Sheffield, another concert and another guest review, this time from Joan Rowe.

What more is there to say about this wonderful pair which has not already been said?  I have been privileged  to see Alfie and Michael once each before but nothing could prepare you for what we experienced at the Sheffield City Hall last night – my ears are still ringing!  There was less banter I think than clips of other concerts I have seen but that may be because this was a slightly different audience and if I may use the term the venue is a little more intimate having only 2000 seats.
We were amazed at the power of Alfie’s voice singing Love Reign O’er Me and then on to the absolute sweetness of Bring Him Home. We were then hurled into the seduction of Michael and the anguish of Gethsemane.
These two gentleman have such a rapport between them it comes across beautifully.  Alfie and Michael made it to the stage door but only briefly; Michael explaining they had a long journey to Bournemouth.  I will leave the last word to Michael: Alfie has a voice that would make angels weep.  Every one of us last night would agree.

We can never get enough of Alfie singing Bring Him Home and to hear Michael singing Empty Chairs is an experience everyone should enjoy so thanks to Linda W for sharing:

Thanks Joan for that review.

If you would like to send a message to Alfie and Michael to be given in a card at the end of the tour, click here!

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The Together tour last night stopped in Newcastle and our guest reviewer, Barbara Wren was there for us.  These are her thoughts on the evening.
From emotion and romance to rock and legendary numbers, Together has it all and last night was no different. Alfie and Michael were absolutely wonderful. From the very first note of Somewhere to the last note of You’ll Never Walk Alone the audience was  enthralled.
With no absentees from the audience  to tease there was little chance for the guys to play and extract ‘the Michael’ and the stage was very much too high to try jumping off, but the banter and fun they have become famous for just rolled on, much to the audiences delight.  This also gave Alfie the chance to respond to Bradley Walsh’s banter on yesterday’s This Morning programme. Balls and Boetox anyone? I am sure Alfie loves the part of the naughty boy that Michael keeps in check, as in Me and My Shadow, though last night Alfie had trouble focusing as Michael happily tried to distract him.  All good fun.
When it comes to the music, what can I say?  I think we are running out of complementary adjectives and superlatives. Alfie and Michael are really at the top of their game and demonstrating it in every way, both in harmony and their individual performances – wow!  Together their harmonies complement each other wonderfully, my favourites, being Incurably Romantic, Tell me it’s not True and the Rat Pack medley. The audience was alive with delight at Alfie’s version  of Mr Presley’s That’s Alright Mama and completely with Michael as he swung his hips to Just can’t help Believing.  Along with the Rat Pack numbers this is different for Alfie, but delivered with style and originality. Michael gave an enormous performance of Mack the Knife and Alfie’s Ain’t That a Kick in the Head was brilliant. And what about the dancing? Watch out Alfie…Strictly will be recruiting in the new year!
Where else can I go? From the drama of John Barry’s Bond arrangements to the passion of the unique arrangement by Claude-Michel Schoenberg of Les Miserables and the legendary Phantom of the Opera, Tell me it’s not True from Blood Brothers and A Thousand Years from Twilight, magnificent memorable performances by Michael of Gethsemane from Jesus Christ Super Star and Alfie’s Love Reign O’er Me.  It is a privilege to experience such power and emotion as the full extent of their voices touch everyone .
It was a fabulous evening and I can’t leave out compliments to the National Symphony Orchestra, Murray Gould , Sam Richardson, Neil Angilley and the ladies in the backing group – they were magnificent. Together with Michael and Alfie they really made the sum of the parts add up to be greater than the whole. A truly professional and entertaining show which left everyone feeling good.
This tour just keeps on giving. The other key ingredient is the sincere friendship and respect between Michael and Alfie along with the fun and mischief they are getting up too.  I was lucky enough to meet them before the show at the meet and greet.  The rapport between them is palpable and lovely to see. Whilst waiting to meet them, which  was organised in an orderly fashion it occurred to me that it was like waiting to see Santa Claus. When I said this to them, Michael offered to sit me on his knee, but I hate to tell him that all I want in my Christmas stocking is Alfie!   As an avid people watcher I was fascinated by the audience getting to know each other and who was a fan of Alfie or Michael. One thing is for sure, by the end of the evening there was a huge cross over taking place with many Michael fans totally head over heels for Alfie and Alfie’s fans the same with Michael; little surprise that our fan club numbers are increasing rapidly.  I heard a few people singing or humming the tunes of a few songs on  way back to their cars, a sure sign of a good show.
Altogether a wonderful show that has given so much to so many. Hopefully we will see Together Again in the not too distant future.
What a fabulous review Barbara – thank you!
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Wednesday night in Blackpool was followed by Friday night in Manchester and luckily, our New York roving reporter, Roberta Kappus was in Manchester and has just sent her guest review.  This is Roberta’s second visit of this tour and she must be a strong claimant to the title of fan who has travelled the most miles on multiple trips to see Alfie.  The fan who has travelled the furthest will always be Margie who has twice flown from Australia to see Alfie in concert…rumour has it she’s thinking about visiting again for Carousel.  Hope so Margie!  How fitting that these two fans (and I’m proud to say, friends as well) first featured on thoughtsofjustafan over three years ago, when I wrote about Alfie’s Fan Family.

What can one say about a show (Together) and two men (Alfie Boe and Michael Ball) about whom so much has been written already.  Sixteen shows (out of thirty) later the magic, the vitality and the electricity is stronger than ever.

As in all the venues to date,  after the brief Somewhere intro the two came bounding down the stairs to very enthusiastic applause and shouts. They had barely started Tonight when the audience joined right in with everyone feeling that this was no ordinary night. The singing was outstanding as always. It amazes me that these two singers are so extraordinarily brilliant venue after venue.

The evening had its comedic aspects, highlighted by a trip to the loo by Matt, a guest in a front row seat. Alfie was quick to spot him, pointing him out to Michael and the rest of the audience. Michael demanded to know why Matt had not gone before the show.  Matt’s reply was lost to audience laughter but from that point on it was obvious the show was not going to continue until Matt returned.  Alfie jumped off the stage and took Matt’s seat.  Michael followed and the house brought up the lights.  Matt finally returned walking casually down the center aisle. At this point Michael had started voicing concern as to how he was going to get back on stage.  After several attempts by Alfie to hoist Michael onto the stage several volunteers were recruited from the audience.  Michael made it back…Alfie easily lifted himself back onto the stage and the show continued.

As a footnote I would like to mention Keep Me in Your Heart with which everyone is familiar.  While you all probably know the audience participation part I don’t remember the orchestra being mentioned.  Alfie’s only accompaniment for this song is the piano and MD Murray. The rest of the orchestra is standing, clapping and joining in with the singing. It is a full participation song.
All in all there simply isn’t a better evening’s entertainment. My sincerest thanks to Mr. Alfie Boe and Mr. Michael Ball.

Thanks Roberta – not just for the great review but also for mentioning my favourite song at the end.  I agree, it’s so good to see the orchestra up and dancing and playing during Keep Me In Your Heart – they had to be encouraged at Bournemouth but as the tour has gone on, it’s become a part of the show.

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This is a bumper week for guest reviews here on thoughtsofjustafan – Nottingham earlier, Manchester and Glasgow to come but before that, Carole Hunt returns with her take on Alfie and Michael at Blackpool.

Blackpool welcomed Fleetwood’s favourite son back home on 23rd amidst an extraordinary outpouring of love and affection on all sides. This particular concert always had the capacity to be rather special and it certainly did not disappoint on any level. The set list has been mentioned in previous reviews so I won’t go through that again in detail but it was certainly an opportunity to observe some of the nuances and other elements of the performance.

Both Michael and Alfie appear to be loving the ‘stool section’ and the swing numbers,  which for Alfie fans is something new.  He had, yet again, a fit of the giggles before going into What a Wonderful World and a shout out session with Fleetwood FC fans which then turned into Oh I do like to be beside the seaside . He managed to pull it back and sing the correct song but not after several failed attempts. Giggling Alfie is fabulous and his laugh is so infectious. Before he kicks off the Elvis section, it’s as if removing his suit jacket and rolling up his shirt sleeves is the release he needs to unlock those vintage Alfie moves and probably make a few of the uninitiated in the audience sit up and take notice. What an absolute joy to see him having the time of his life performing as the man who has had such an influence in his life.

As the tour rolls on it is obvious that both singers are picking up new fans like the proverbial pied piper and this in part will be down to their two big solo numbers which have clearly been chosen to showcase their individual voices at their very best. Michael’s Gethsemane is a song I have always wanted to hear Alfie throw his colossal pipes at but Mr Ball does a very fine job indeed; it’s a huge sing for anyone and he pulls it off with high emotion and power.  I thought the superlatives for Alfie’s Love Reign O’er Me had long since run out and that he couldn’t possibly find anything more to give – wrong.  To witness this phenomenon is like being hit by the full force of an unstoppable freight train coming at you head on.  Where and how he finds more each time I just do not know, but he does and it has been an utter privilege to see him in full throttle with it once more when perhaps we thought there wouldn’t be room for it on this tour.  I love to watch how he goes off somewhere deep into his head with his eyes closed, like he does with Bring Him Home, so that he delivers it with full blown emotional impact and not just stunning vocals. Whilst the piano player was striking thunder into the opening section, Alfie stood at the head of the white grand piano with his hands stretched out on it, head bowed and eyes shut as if he was physically filling himself with the musical vibrations in preparation for the herculean sing ahead of him.

Everyone  loves a bit of Bond and the medley is fast becoming one of my favourite parts of the show.  The boys look dapper in their black suits and to my mind give Daniel Craig a run for his money.  The individual songs run seamlessly together and my only complaint is that the  Skyfall section in its current format is wickedly too short.  I can only imagine what Alfie could do with it given the notes he hits, a full version would be something astonishing.  And as for THAT note at the end of Thunderball….. chills!

The Les Mis medley is a piece of musical genius with each artist performing their most famous songs individually, which is exactly as it should be.  Their coming together on I Dreamed a Dream is a surprise at first but is a superb platform to show off the combined force of their voices.

We had more Alfie anecdotes than have been forthcoming in previous concerts. He explained how he and Michael had met during the ill fated Kismet production ten years ago and at one point he had been turning to his soprano to sing Stranger in Paradise and over her shoulder he was greeted with the sight of Mr Ball’s waggling rear end, with his pants around his ankles in an attempt to lighten proceedings. He also mentioned the fact that he used to work at the Opera House but was fired, and the guy who fired him was currently watching in the wings!  He said some heartfelt words to the home audience that wherever he is “I will always champion this place, I’ve got my feet firmly on the ground and will never forget where I come from”.

It is clear how much in awe each artist is of the other and this was never proved more so than when, after their final wave to the audience at the top of the staircase, Michael pushed Alfie forward then disappeared out of sight leaving him alone on the stage to soak up the applause and adulation. The car mechanic from up the road done good – you’ve come a long way Mr Boe!

What a fabulous review Carole – love the anecdote about Kismet!  Roll on Blackpool 14 December is all I can say!

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Into the third week of the Alfie Boe Michael Ball Together tour and it’s the turn of our Nottingham guest reviewer, Heather Moore to tell us her thoughts on the tour.  Heather has been a Michael Ball fan since she was twelve years old, first having seen him singing One Step Out Of Time at the Eurovision song contest.  Three years later, she first saw him live in Passion.  Heather found Alfie seven years ago via an early album and the DVD of La Boheme.  With all this in mind, it’s fair to say that hopes were high for Heather’s first concert of this tour.  This is what she says:

There was a buzz before Alfie and Michael took to the stage; everyone was looking forward to a great night and that’s what this twinkling twosome delivered.  Alfie was really bouncing off the audience and the Concert Hall seemed to suit him more than the Nottingham Arena where I had seen his concert two years before.  It felt more personal somehow and more interactive with lots of laughs on stage. Alfie even joked with the ushers.  Michael was enjoying himself too.  The reason we were all there was the music and these gentleman didn’t disappoint. The music choices were super, of course many of the songs from the new album, starting with Somewhere where we were transported into the musical theatre world. I loved A Thousand Years and the Wonderful World and Somewhere Over the Rainbow medley worked very well. The backdrops were fantastic too – the graphics added to the special feeling for the occasion.

I thought Michael and Alfie’s voices blended well together and it didn’t feel like they were competing with each other, instead they complimented each other.  I also enjoyed the solo spots.  Alfie got all the audience singing along to Keep Me In Your Heart – it was great fun watching Alfie bounce around the stage.  Michael used his spot to sing the very powerful Gethsemane and Michael’s story of watching Jesus Christ Superstar as an eleven year old was touching.  Of course Michael sang Love Changes Everything and of course the whole audience sang along.

The orchestra and the singers Izzy, Tori  and Lauren were great although I would have liked them to have been brought in a bit more on the Les  Miserables segment but that’s only a small point.  The Les Miserables section got the first standing ovation of the night.  I also loved the Elvis and James Bond medleys.  Michael singing Skyfall was a highlight for me. The show ended all too soon but that’s what happens when you’re having fun! The closing song was my favourite ever song  You’ll Never Walk Alone and as we all stood and clapped and waved to the brilliant pair this was a fantastic end to a fabulous evening.

I have been a fan of these two for a long while and I will continue to follow these talented chaps for I hope many years to come.

Thanks Heather for a great review – here are Alfie and Michael singing Somewhere (thanks Linda W for sharing):

If anyone wants to see Alfie back in his opera days, La Boheme is available here (it’s in English and very accessible so don’t let the thought of opera put you off!):

la-boheme

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The Together tour is in full swing and last night it was the turn of Brighton and our guest reviewers, Heather and Sam.  Sam had never seen Alfie live and was unsure what to expect but needn’t have worried, from start to end it was magic and she didn’t want it to end.  Here are her and Heather’s thoughts:

When you hear that two giants of the music world are collaborating in an album and nation wide tour it tends to set the heart a flutter.  The Together Tour landed at The Brighton Centre on Tuesday 15 November and it was clear from the first note that it was going to be an amazing evening. A simple set, a small but well balanced orchestra and three backing singers set the scene.

There could never be any doubt that we were in for a real treat of an evening but as the show unfolded, we were blessed with not only wonderful music but fun and laughter. There was reference to the album and many of the songs performed are from Together. They also mentioned the memorabilia that is available for fans to purchase – from coasters and mugs to t-shirts and fleeces (all of which is, in my opinion rather expensive).  The entertainment was, as expected, first class.  The choice of musical numbers was inspired – songs from
Blood Brothers (Tell Me It’s Not True), Phantom and The Godfather were off set with wonderfully unexpected items such as What a Wonderful World and Over the Rainbow combined into one song – cleverly arranged and beautifully sung. In between the songs, the banter between Michael and Alfie had us laughing, at times almost to the point of tears. Mr Boe is something of a giggler – after singing Speak Softly Love, he struggled to tell us, through his giggles, that he nearly counted out loud before starting to sing at one point during the song. He had us in fits of laughter as he pretended to have trouble getting onto a stool, thus requiring assistance from a certain Mr Ball.  At various stages
throughout the evening it was evident that Alfie was trying to stifle a giggling fit. It was great to see both Michael and Alfie obviously enjoying themselves whilst entertaining a packed venue.
There were, for me, a couple of unexpected moments during the show – firstly, Alfie Boe does Elvis!! To hear a classically trained singer do rock and roll was a real treat. Secondly, I was amazed by Michael Ball’s passion. He sang a song from Jesus Christ Superstar which I have never heard performed outside that show and left me moved almost to tears.  It brought home to me just how good he is.  Each of our entertainers did a solo spot which enabled them to showcase their individual style. Audience participation was encouraged and we got stuck in with great enthusiasm.  Alfie had us almost singing harmonies while Michael, having said we couldn’t join in with Love Changes Everything, then invited us to do so.

I could comment on every song that was performed, but it’s easier to just say that the entire evening was pure magic. A simple set, with different graphics projected onto the back wall depending on the theme of the music, an excellent group of musicians and singers provided the perfect accompaniment to the awesome voices of Messrs Ball and Boe. The evening concluded with a compilation of songs from Les Miserables – a show where Alfie doesn’t sing Bring Him Home would be like the Royal Variety Show without the National Anthem! The encore was more of a sing along – the audience on their feet joining in with You’ll Never Walk Alone – a wonderful way to end a perfect evening.

Thanks to Sam and Heather for giving us their thoughts on Brighton – our next guest review will be from Liverpool.

Together is available here:

together-album-cover

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