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The penultimate date of Alfie Boe and Michael Ball’s Together Again 2017 tour was in Nottingham and Heather Moore was there to review it for us:

One word: wow! Alfie and Michael know how to put on a show. The Arena was packed for the duo’s return to Nottingham. Last year they played the Royal Concert Hall three times  and I was lucky to see them twice. I also saw them in Lincoln in the Summer and saw Alfie in the brilliant Carousel at ENO.

It was great to watch the gents tonight and I have to say this is the best I have seen them together; they are always wonderful but tonight they excelled their already high standards.  The show started with a montage of photos of the pair’s travels and backstage the song from Sunset Boulevard fitted the bill perfectly.

The first half had many stand out moments, from The Rose, a duet on Love Changes Everything, He Lives in You from the Lion King and A Thousand Years. I also really liked the song Hero, one I haven’t really played much but will do in future. I also liked You’ll Be Back although it makes me want to spend money on a ticket to see Hamilton.  Alfie and Michael mix classics with more recent hits and both have great taste in music hence the Queen medley. Both also have great banter, with various jokes around The Robin Hood Energy sign (sponsors of the arena) and both swore at times in a good natured way of course. It was very funny and the audience lapped it up. Both gents seemed very at home on the stage and enjoyed wowing the crowd.

The second half was like going onto the second layer of chocolates – the audience wanted more and the audience got much more. The solo spots were fab , Michael’s version of the Impossible Dream gained a standing ovation. Alfie’s version of Wagon Wheel was sublime but his walkabout during Run stole the show. He really wowed the crowd and his performance was heartfelt. Other highlights from both were Bring Me Sunshine and New York, New York.  I enjoyed the Les Miserables medley especially Master of the House and Alfie, you made me sob again during Bring Him Home which was  just perfect. One Day More brought the section to a close and once again I couldn’t help thinking I would like to see Ball’s Javert to Boe’s Val Jean, especially after Michael’s version of Stars, so special too. The pair are so well matched and their sense of fun ending in the Wham Medley is captivating and catching – dancing in the aisle ensued. You could tell Alfie enjoyed tonight and with the final winter show at the O2 the two friends will go separate ways but I hope after the solo projects next year we have a together three. These gentleman are having a blast and this radiates into the audience.  Ten out of Ten.

Thanks for another fabulous review Heather.

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SPOILER ALERT: This review contains details of the Together Again tour.

Ball and Boe’s Together Again Tour 2017 moved onto Scotland at the weekend, with the first show in Glasgow.  Here is Pauline Hyland’s review:

Michael and Alfie performed to a full arena on a bitter cold evening and although the audience took a little while to totally warm up and relax and respond, but when they did they were very appreciative and vocal. The show is fast and furious, full of energy but offering a lovely mix of the slow and the fast song, a variety of tone, tempo and content. Covering 33/34 songs the concert covered a cornucopia of emotions, joyous, tear jerking, warmth, amusing, together with dance, repartee and comedy. Credit must go to – yes Michael and Alfie – but also the musicians, the fabulous orchestra, the very glamorous backing girls, the sound technicians and the lighting, projectionists and the creative minds that produced the background screen. Special mention must go to the production of this as each song was beautifully and symbolically portrayed on screen; a real work of art. The highlights for me are the big songs and of course the solos, but every minute Alfie is on the stage is a highlight for me. Does all that sound too good to be true? Well yes there were little mistakes, a few hiccups with sound but all in all an excellent show.

Into the first half and Michael asked Alfie “Are you going to do the plug? Christmas with Ball and Boe 29 December.” Response: “Oh I forgot we are being recorded so I can’t swear”. Two minutes later Alfie to Michael – “ You won’t let me say a bloody thing”. This leads to the scene with the stools, and Michael sending love to Alfie. “ I love this man for a thousand years.” Michael’s hand on Alfie’s leg, as they get to “one step closer”, Alfie’s stool moves. Candle lights on the screen herald the start of yet more banter from Michael – “we have shared everything over the last 18 months”, Alfie’s face is a picture, “in fact “Michael says “there is very little we haven’t shared.” Moment of audience participation, Alfie comment, “we shared a bus, take your hand off my hip”.

Into the second half, and more dialogue from Michael – “Alfie and I enjoyed dancing at the Royal Variety Show at the request of Miranda Hart.” No response from the audience so Alfie turns full face to the audience and says “MIRANDA HART” and only then does the audience respond. Alfie then tries to persuade the audience that he took the lead with the Bolshoi Ballet.  Michael – “Will and Kate send their love “. After two minutes of banter Michael announces that the audience won’t need to see the dance (Manchester he did forget the moves and stood covered in confusion), I know the words he says but not the dance moves.  Alfie “Ladies and Gentlemen I know the words and the dance moves. You want to see the dance?”. Yes of course we did. Bring Me Sunshine was perfectly performed with style and vigour, Michael taking a very low bow on completion, beads of sweat pouring from his brow.

Alfie’s solos spot was a highlight: Alfie entered and walked down stage, guitar in hand followed by “his band”, Murray et al. Alfie’s comment was “how to make an ass of yourself with a guitar”.  After some tongue in cheek sarcastic comments about Michael, he said “ I love him to pieces – that’s support” He then talked about his Dad and the influence on his music and his Dad’s love of country music, finishing up with “playing guitar in opera didn’t work”.  The sound man came on and fiddled at the back of Alfie who moved suggesting he’s had his bum pinched. His guitar connected, he said “now can I press play”.  Wagon Wheel was played and sung beautifully by Alfie, a catchy country song with chorus opportunities for the audience. Alfie took a back seat during the middle of this quietly strumming along as each individual band member was given their bit of solo playing.  Alfie made his intro to his next song a recognition of the work done by all the armed forces past and present and dedicated this performance to them. For Run he asked for torches on phones to be lit and the arena looked amazing. Part way through the song he jumped off the stage and made his way round the theatre. Sadly though the screen showed him singing no sound was coming from his mike. The backing group and the musicians was all that could be heard. This really was sad, in Manchester it worked brilliantly. Alfie left via the floor exit to really great response from the audience.

I have used words such as beautiful, amazing, fabulous, I was just totally lost for words – there just aren’t enough words in the dictionary to describe their performance. I and everyone in the audience both in Glasgow and Manchester just did not want this to end due to a truly professional performance of flawless, harmonious voices performed in a relaxed and easy atmosphere, the audience witnessing an obvious close and respectful partnership of friends. The love these two performers have for each other, for music and for their audience was evident from start to finish. I loved it, the freedom, the flow seamless (well almost) from one song to another, the mistakes, the banter, the mickey taking, the well rehearsed insults and responses – it was great. Such freedom and fluidity, no stuffiness or pretence doesn’t just happen, it comes from careful thought, planning, imagination, lots of hard work, team work and most importantly talent. Talent was on show in abundance.  A brilliant, brilliant show  and I am so sorry I didn’t book every performance.

Thanks so much for a lovely review Pauline.

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SPOILER ALERT – This review contains details of the Together tour

Can you believe the Together Again 2017 tour is almost over?  Just three dates left – whatever will we do then?  Luckily for us, Alfie Boe and Michael Ball are have plenty of TV and radio appearances to keep us going over Christmas.  In the meantime, let’s enjoy Barbara Wren’s review from Leeds.

Leaving the First Direct Arena in Leeds I was absolutely overwhelmed, the atmosphere and warmth was wonderful and despite the freezing cold Yorkshire night outside, the love and friendliness stayed with me, and are my overriding memory. Driving home I started to reflect on the concert and wondered whatever was I going to write. So much has been written so brilliantly about the set list and music in the concerts to date, by some fabulous reviewers and I felt lost for words on how I could follow without simply repeating. The guys are so professional and well rehearsed that we all get the very best they can give at every concert.

That said, there was something really special about this concert at Leeds and it very quickly become clear that so many other people felt Leeds was something special. I chatted with many fans who had been at Manchester on Thursday evening and also other concerts who felt Leeds had surpassed expectation in every way. It didn’t take a genius to work out it was the intense atmosphere, warmth, love and friendliness which built with every song, and the sincerity and depth of Alfie and Michael’s friendship, which as always was palpable to make Leeds extra special. Comically endorsed by Alfie calling Michael a bastard on a couple of occasions when he was teased by Michael who dropped the unexpected on him despite the brilliant well rehearsed comedic sketches. (Love Alfie’s giggle).

Using the opportunity in their solo slots both Alfie and Michael expressed personally and so sincerely, their thanks and appreciation to the audience. Also very poignantly, the lyrics of some of the songs on the set list related to some of the dreadful things that have happened in the country this year, the effects on families and the work of our services and armed forces. First Michael’s powerful and emotional delivery of The Impossible Dream which received the wonderful and so deserved ovation followed by Run which of course is one of the special songs Alfie dedicates to express his appreciation of our Armed Forces and Servicemen that keep us safe. This is where I am lost for words. The emotion in Leeds was palpable, the power and delivery was incredible and with tears in my eyes I glanced round to see I was by no means on my own. Leaving the stage to sing and walk amongst the audience, Alfie took the whole experience to a new level; his own wonderful way of saying I am with you and I care. For me personally it meant so much. The lights from phones across the auditorium were spectacular and created the perfect atmosphere and backdrop to some wonderful moments for many fans. I do hope this again this is a tour highlight for Alfie. It is true that a picture says a thousand words. No more so than in Linda Wellington’s fabulous video. Thank you so much Linda.

I think it is also worth noting that the design of Leeds arena is fantastic for this as the seating through all the levels is a wide fan shape semi circle meaning that no one is so far back and therefore feel nearer and involved, never more so than in Bring me Sunshine. Forgive me but watching Strictly tonight I don’t think their dancing would score 10’s, but for the audience at Leeds they were Ginger and Fred. True fabulous traditional entertainment. Morecambe and Wise would be delighted.

It is not possible to end without saying that the diversity of genre and harmony were brilliantly complemented by the fabulous musicians from the London Symphony Orchestra, the backing singers and the creation of stunning inspirational back drops which were wonderfully arranged and harmonised in every sense of the word. The whole production team deserve exceptional praise.

Turning to Love Changes Everything –  yes it does. There is nothing better than fun, laughter and entertainment to demonstrate love and friendship, which we got in spades. This duo are for ALWAYS. “Together for ever “as the saying goes. We all like and admire their individual work and long may it continue but the value of them TOGETHER is a partnership based on mutual appreciation which is unique and fingers crossed will be around for a long time to come. Alfie has done some diverse and stunning work over the last year on his own as well as the Together recordings and concerts and I have never seen Alfie look so well and happy as when the Together concerts began last year. I also now listen to Michael most Sunday mornings interspersed with his musical theatre work in which I now take much more interest, so win win all round.

I end at the beginning: You’ll Be Back, please don’t Tell Me It’s Not True, we’ll follow you for A Thousand Years, please Don’t Stop The Beat and Run with the Wagon Wheel, answer our Prayer and we’ll send you Roses in appreciation of the difference you make to all of our lives. Thank you for the power, passion and integrity you bring to every performance.

Wow, what a fabulous review and I think you sentiments at the end go for all of us – thanks Barbara.

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Spoiler alert: This review contains details of the Together Again Tour!

Alfie Boe and Michael Ball moved onto Birmingham last night for the latest show of their Together Again 2017 tour and Kate Griffin was there to review for us:

Our night began with a thrilling meet and greet experience that was just wonderful. It was very well organised and everyone was getting a buzz from watching the boys as we each took our turn to be photographed with them and have a little chat. They were both relaxed, with Michael the more buoyant one whilst Alfie was a little more reserved and quieter. As we approached for our two minutes of their attention Alfie was so kind and gentle and softly spoken. He happily signed my photos and programme and chatted for a couple of minutes. I told him I was reviewing the concert and was expecting a good performance and he told me the end was a surprise to watch out for and to which Michael over heard and chipped in about Alfie getting all the attention as always! They spent about an hour overall with fans and left us all on a high in anticipation about what was to come.

The concert was beyond all expectations from start to finish. As the other reviewers have said before me if you thought Together was good and couldn’t be beaten, just wait until you’ve seen Together Again! Michael and Alfie appeared looking very cool and casual in skinny jeans and jackets with Alfie opting for biker boots and an untucked silk black shirt which I am sure set many hearts aflutter! Michael looked fitter than he has for some time and dressed to match Alfie making him appear younger and trendier. They came on to a wonderful backdrop made from a collection of photos of their year reminding us of their obvious bromance and love for each other.

The lyrics of You’ll Be Back from Hamilton set them giggling and the banter began; the lyrics unfolded with Michael singing “you belong to me”, to Alfie which gets Alfie making two finger signs at him in jest and then as the song goes on it ends up with Alfie on his knees at Michael singing “for ever and ever and ever”. We were treated to Hero which was just beautiful and then Tell Me Its Not True which brought out the richness and depth in both their voices. I felt it was quite a slow paced build up to a powerful ending which had the crowd bowled over by this point. As the songs were sung the backdrops were simple patterns and colours and beautifully enhanced their vocals and were perfect in setting the mood for each song. As we got to Not While I’m Around from Sweeney Todd the back drop turned blood red and the lighting filling the stage also red which helped portray the mood of this musical. As they sang this their caring and gentle sides was very apparent and I thought it came over how much love they have for each other and that they had each other’s back at all times.  The graphical backdrop for The Rose was a beautiful setting and the boys began to sing again quietly and softly. Michael showing his acting through song ability and Alfie being very gentle before their voices joined together to build up to the crescendo of a very powerful ending.

Michael then declared he was worn out so let’s have a sit down. They messed around at this point making the audience laugh as Alfie feeds Michael water from his bottle and Michael leant his head on Alfie’s shoulder to which Alfie shouted “you’ve got makeup on me jacket” in his lovely Northern accent! As Michael announces the next song from the last tour Alfie pretends he hates it and they start joking about it as Michael rubs Alfie’s shoulder to remove the make up.  They then sang one of my very favourites, A Thousand Years from Twilight as huge floating candles filled the back drop to bring a beautiful ambience to the Arena. The song was both powerful and passionate and beautifully delivered.  More banter followed after this, which involved Alfie fidgeting with his microphone pack wires in the back of his shirt. Michael tried to help with Alfie then declaring the “wires gone up me bum!” The audience were in stitches and then with Alfie trying his best to get away from Michael with his stool they began chasing each other around. At this point Alfie suggested they put the lights on to see the audience.  Once on, he ran off as if scared by the number of people he can see and Michael claimed its “like we’re One Direction!” Love Changes Everything came next with yet more little funny moments between them that fit aptly with the lyrics. Alfie felt Michael’s knee and got the response “wait till I get you on that bus.” It is quite beautiful how Michael has let Alfie share his song and they made it a refreshing new version as enormous light bulbs float behind them on the backdrop.

For act two the boys appeared still in their jeans and boots but having changed into jacket and ties. After the opening couple of songs, Alfie teased the audience as he declared rumours that Michael has begged him to sing songs from a famous pop group which led the audience to think Wham is coming. Of course it was Queen and a simply stunning arrangement of songs which Alfie just rocked to perfection. That rock god came out as he climbed on the railings, arms in the air and encouraging the audience to scream and they brought the house down. Michael said let’s keep the party going as Alfie went off for a break, singing You Can’t stop the Beat to a backdrop of fabulous photos of him in the role of Edna Turnblad. The crowd were on their feet dancing by now as he told us he misses wearing a dress! He talked about the dream year he’s had with Alfie and how much he loves him as his best mate to share adventures with, leading nicely into The Impossible Dream.  As Michael left to a standing ovation, Alfie returned saying “hello, I’ve got a guitar”. He thanked Michael for the last twelve months saying he is a wonderful guy to make fun of.  A beautiful country song, Wagon Wheel, follows, confidently strumming and jamming with his fellow musicians.  Following was a dedication to our armed forces and Alfie asked us to put our torches on whilst he sung Run. It was evident why this won the poll for best live performance as the atmosphere was electric and most poignant. It was a beautiful moment.

The ending was like the best party you have ever been to, with such a happy atmosphere that you never wanted to end.  To finish off, we were so lucky to be sitting next to Alfie’s sister Pauline. She was delightful and happily chatted away to us about Alfie. She is clearly one very proud big sister who constantly referred to him as her “Baby Brother”, beaming the whole way through the concert and bursting with pride. She says he is a very humble man, who gets nervous but adores making people happy . She said that what we see is what we get with Alfie and that he is exactly the same at home as we see him on the stage. Which brings me back to my big sis who I took as my guest. She loved every moment and tells me today that it was a wow concert that she could watch over and over again. I think Alfie has just gained another fan!

Thank you to both Michael and Alfie for such a wonderful, heart-warming and entertaining night. Also to the backing singers, musicians and orchestra. From beginning to end, what a superb evening of wall to wall entertainment.

Thanks Kate for a great review.

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SPOILER ALERT – This review contains details of the Together Again tour!

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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SPOILER ALERT: This review contains details of Alfie and Michael’s Together Again Tour!

Ball and Boe’s Together Again tour started on Thursday in Cardiff and regular reviewer Carole Hunt was there for us:

Think you’ve heard it all from Messrs Ball and Boe over the past twelve months? Well, think again. They’re back and with it they are bigger, better, and bolder than ever before. Add the word ‘badder’ to that list in the best possible sense and you have the formula for a show with a gloriously long set list by two performers who have created something quite astonishing. They are more relaxed and their infectious love for their craft and performing in front of a live audience is abundantly clear.

The set is just about the same as previously, except for the back screen being one large element instead of split into three and the opening overture, played whilst Alfie and Michael begin in their familiar format of singing off stage, is accompanied by a plethora of photos of them including the selfies they took on stage at the end of each concert last winter and summer – so watch out for yourselves! As If We Never Said Goodbye opens the show followed by (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher, the latter being a surprise inclusion but got the audience in upbeat spirits from the start. Then, from the Together Again album – You’ll Be Back, Some Enchanted Evening, Evermore, Not While I’m Around and The Rose. A duet of Michael’s signature song Love Changes Everything was amusing and Alfie picks it up with effortless ease. I was thrilled to hear A Thousand Years still included in the set as it fast became one of my favourites last year, and Hero came next with He Lives In You. John Tonks’ solo on drums during the latter number was incredible and clearly enjoyed by them both, although I think Alfie was itching to take over! As the tempo increased on the song so did his energy levels and they didn’t look back for the rest of the show.

The second half began with a medley from West Side Story accompanied by graphics on the back screen evocative of the opening of the original film which set the tone beautifully. Bring Me Sunshine was gorgeous with the added delight of an unprepared dance routine that they had done at the Royal Variety show last week which brought giggles between them but was made even more endearing with it being less than perfect. Whether they will perfect it as the tour evolves I don’t know but there was something very captivating about it with the rough edges.

New York, New York was followed by one of many surprise inclusions and something totally inspired – a Queen medley. If there is one man who can come anywhere near to doing Freddie Mercury justice it’s Alfie and you can sense the joy he feels in singing those genius and powerful songs – It’s A Kind Of Magic, Radio Gaga, We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions. Rock star Alfie was unleashed, possibly onto a partly unsuspecting audience who were not so familiar with that side of him and “that nice man from Les Mis” filled the stage as only he can with epic vocals and boundless energy.

Their solo spots were a refreshing departure from what they had done in previous shows but still showcased their ability to perform yet more musical genres. Michael chose a tribute to David Bowie in Life on Mars and You Can’t Stop The Beat from his time in Hairspray. Alfie’s choices were unexpected – Wagon Wheel, a country song performed whilst he played the guitar and accompanied by a handful of musicians around him. The last time we saw him with a guitar in his hand was during the Storyteller tour 4 ½ years ago and I am happy to report that he has clearly worked very hard since then and appears very comfortable indeed. His choice of Tiny Dancer, an Elton John song , was inspired by hearing its original composer performing it on a grand piano in his back garden.

A new and updated medley from Les Miserables was as uplifting and emotional as it should be, given it is being performed by two of the most famous and formidable voices ever to be associated with arguably one of the best musicals ever written. The backing singers did a wonderful job with At the End of the Day, and Michael delivered an impassioned Stars before Alfie gave us a full length, towering Bring Him Home. Whilst Michael was performing Alfie sat in the half light off to one side preparing himself, no doubt getting into that ‘bubble’ that he talks about. The way that Michael in particular looks at Alfie when he is singing solo is fascinating and captivating to watch, he seems to be in total awe. A final blast of One Day More brought tears to my eyes.

The finale came with The Prayer , delivered with high emotion and passion and, unlike the CD recording, they went for the very big finish with Alfie hitting that note as only he can. But a finale is not a real finale with Ball and Boe these days until Michael has come back on alone, seemingly pleased that Alfie had gone so that he could sing A Different Corner, only to have him pop up behind him and both of them launching into – yes folks, they really did do it at last – a Wham medley. It was a joy to seem them on that stage just letting go and the entire audience were on their feet caught up with their infectious excitement and dynamism. Where else could you expect to see a Fellow of the Royal College of Music belting out Wham songs on top of a white grand piano?

It was a very special evening indeed and I have no doubt that the tour will evolve as it goes on, but the unpredictability and excitement of an opening night was one to savour. This may be the last we hear from Ball and Boe as a duo for a while and we are excited to hear where their individual paths will take them next, but ‘Together’ they certainly brought fun, sunshine and love to Cardiff.
Breathtaking review Carole – thank you so much!

With less than three weeks to go until Alfie Boe and Michael Ball start their Together Again 2017 tour, I’m on the hunt for concert reviewers.  Last year, Cecelia Powell, Samantha Davis, Heather Crosskey, Heather Moore, Carole Hunt, Roberta Kappus, Christine Firby and Barbara Wren wrote some wonderful reviews and I’m hoping that there will be some more guest reviewers out there this year.

If you would like to review a concert on the Together Again Tour, please fill in the form with a mini review of the album and I’ll notify the winners at the end of next week:

Click here to see some of the reviews from 2016.

Last week I gave you the opportunity to win a signed CD / DVD deluxe Together Again album and I asked you which Disney songs were included on the album.  Sixty of you knew that He Lives In You and Evermore were Disney songs, as well as Once Upon A December from Anastasia (although as Anastasia is a bonus track, I did take answers that just included Lion King and Beauty and the Beast).

I’m delighted to say that the random number generated belongs to Sue Ashton – well done Sue!

Also, the winner of the Elizabeth Marvelly album on which Alfie duetted on Stranger in Paradise is Vehbiye Yoncu – well done!

Sue and Vehbiye, please click here to send me your contact details.

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The 2016 Together tour has finished and the rush of anticipation for the next one has already started – anyone excited yet?  Before that, we’ve the small matter of a couple of reviews to sort out and here is the first of these and the last of our guest reviewers, Christine Firby who reviewed Sheffield for us.

December 12th and Ball & Boe were back in Sheffield giving a packed City Hall a second helping of their sensational show and me, my first experience of the joy that is the Together tour.  Having seen Alfie several times I knew what I’d be getting from him, but Michael was a mystery – this being my first time seeing him live. Turns out he was a magical mystery, a wonderful performer, warm, friendly, cheeky enough to give as good as he gets from Alfie and in possession of a voice that can more than stand it’s ground when paired with Alfie  or be stunning on its own as was shown in his show stopping rendition of Gethsemane.
From the moment the lights went down and the amazing orchestra began to play Somewhere, there was a buzz of excitement all around and when Alfie and Michael appeared the audience erupted with joy and delight.  From this exuberant start the fun and fantastic performances just kept on coming – some late arrivals coming in just after Somewhere were immediately spotted and picked out for good natured ribbing with Alfie stating ” Don’t sit down, we’re finished.” Lessons to be learnt – don’t be late to or go to the loo during an Alfie / Michael gig – you will be spotted and put in your place!
The bromance banter and hilarity continued throughout giving a wonderful contrast to the magnificent musical numbers.  A particular highlight came just as Alfie was getting on his stool to sing Wonderful World / Over the Rainbow, as he sat down the stool cushion gave a loud squeak like a whoopie cushion, Alfie gave a confused look and then proceeded to bounce up and down with his mic pointed at the seat as it produced more squeaks, he said something like “It’s the stool, not me” to which quick as a flash Michael replied ” I think it’s the curry” – so typical of these two to come down to childish toilet humour – needless to say the audience were in stitches.
As for the musical numbers – oh boy can these guys sing!!  Every number was a joy to hear and in some cases see too – the soft shoe shuffle to Stairway to Paradise and the Me and My Shadow routine were quite something to behold! From the gentle beauty of Speak Softly Love via Tell Me It’s Not True (so stunning it had me trembling) to Elvis (rocking and Vegas) and the swing of Ain’t That a Kick in the Head and Mack the Knife, there was something to appeal to everyone, and with so many amazingly beautiful performances it’s nearly impossible to pick just one favourite – so I’ve picked three.
My musical highlights are, as mentioned earlier, Michael’s show stopping rendition of Gethsemane – if anyone doubts Michael’s ability as a singer / performer they need to see this and they will change their mind – vocally and emotionally powerful to the point that Michael was visibly drained at the end this performance truly showed how talented Michael  is, especially coming as it did straight after Alfie’s tour de force performance of Love Reign O’er Me – my second musical highlight.  Powerful and emotionally charged as only Alfie can make this song whenever he performs it, this time was extra special with Alfie’s soaring vocals perfectly matched to the heartbreaking Quadrophenia video on the backdrop and Murray Gould’s outstanding guitar solo – a perfect spinetingling storm of a performance. Finally mention must be made of the Bond Medley.  Ball & Boe were made to record a Bond theme and this proves it – a stunning combination of Michael channelling his inner Shirley Bassey and Alfie’s finesse and sheer vocal skill – holding the last note of Thunderball for what seemed like forever, much to Michael’s awe and approval – judging by the smile he gave.
Needless to say there was also plenty of audience participation from the full on singalong and dancing of Keep Me in Your Heart (well done to the men in the women vs men warm up – they were rather good!) to the arm waving of Love Changes Everything and my turn as Fleece model!!! Can’t believe I was the one asked by Alfie to stand up, put my fleece on and turn around so everyone in the audience could see it and that I actually did it!!! (if anyone recorded this I’d love a copy) and of course the amazing encore of You’ll Never Walk Alone with everyone standing, joining in with full voice and phone torches twinkling in the air – a beautiful end to a beautiful, emotional and stunning evening of entertainment finished perfectly by getting a wave back from Alfie and Michael as their tour bus pulled away from the stage door and we hardy fans who had waited waved them off.
It was a spellbinding night and hopefully we will hear more musical magic from Alfie and Michael very soon as this fantastic collaboration deserves to run and run.
Thanks Christine for a fabulous review – and thanks also to all the other reviewers along the way, it’s been wonderful to get your insights.
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Hot on the heels of my review of Saturday Night at the London Palladium is my first guest reviewer, Cecelia’s post about Sunday night which she has dubbed Stairway to Paradise!

What a weekend it has been, starting with the arrival of our favourite roving New Yorker Roberta on Friday, ending up by chance in the same row as our favourite blogger at the Palladium on Saturday, and then returning last night for another slice of Malfie magic.  Trust me, from Michael’s opening notes offstage in Somewhere to those last combined, oh-so-stirring notes of You’ll Never Walk Alone, you’re under the spell of two consummate performers.  So often, seeing performers live can be a disappointment as the vocals fail to equal the recording.  With Alfie and Michael. it’s the other way around.  These two were meant to be on stage.
I thought Saturday night was fabulous and half the fun was meeting up with so many friends from far and wide.  But do you know what?  Last night was even better.  The boys seemed somehow more relaxed and playful, maybe because they hadn’t had a mad motorcycle ride across town.  Michael is sublime and Alfie is, for me, the voice that reaches the part that other singers don’t even begin to reach.  Together, these two really are a divine double act.
Highlights: Definitely Alfie’s Love Reign O’er Me.  It gave me chills when I first heard it sung on the Serenata tour and I get a tingle every time those opening chords are played.  The pianist was superb and I adored the fact that Murray was there to accompny Alfie with those masterful guitar riffs.  Having spoken to Murray the night of Classic Quadrophenia’s premiere, I know he was blown away by the music and Alfie’s performance so I’m so glad he got to be a part of this tour.  Another highlight was the power of Michael’s Gethsemane.  I wasn’t expecting that and found it extraordinarily powerful and moving.   Yet another highlight was Alfie forgetting the words to For Once In My Life early on because he was buy waving to people and he lost it completely when Michael helped him mount his stool for the beautiful What A Wonderful World / Over the Rainbow blend – it’s been such a while since I’ve heard that childlike Alfie giggle ring out.  It brought back find memories.  Of course, he got it under control and more than did justice to the songs…eventually!  And yes, there was even one mad Alfie dash when he leapt from the stage and ran around the stalls.
I’ve got to say I’m a sucker for Alfie the rock star, which I missed a bit on this tour so That’s Alright Mama was an absolute joy.  The Bond medley too was extraordinary and I thought that whoever worked out the staging did a great job.  The cleverness of the back projection throughout was stunning and the lighting shooting out over the stage on the beat as the Bond medley began perfectly captured the mood and set the scene for those oh so powerful songs.  The real surprise for me was how much I adored the swing section, which allowed the personalities of these two great buddies to shine.  Alfie and Michael perfectly captured the spirit of a bygone age, and they had such fun doing so. I didn’t want Me and My Shadow to end. Loved the choreography. So I guess I’m a sucker for a bit of soft shoe, too.  And then there was the Les Mis medley.  No words.
I feel privileged to have been able to have shared such a magical night, to have climbed that Stairway to Paradise and been swept away by the Music of the Night.  If you’ve caught the tour already, you know what I’m talking about.  If you are yet to go, I have a feeling these shows will only get better.  And if you can’t attend, you’ve got a TV special to look forward to in December.  Having thoroughly mixed my metaphors, I can’t help wondering where the Alfie train will be taking us next.  All I can say is, wherever it stops I’ll look for you at the station – because I haven’t been disappointed since I got on board.
Fantastically evocative review Cecelia – thank you so much for being my first guest reviewer!
Together is available here:
together-album-cover
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So, hot on the heels of the Alfie Boe Favourite Tour poll, Alfie this week started his mini UK summer tour 2015.  Or to be more precise, the first big show is planned for tomorrow evening at Hampton Court and the two concerts earlier this week were something  a bit more special.  Monday and Tuesday this week saw Alfie play two intimate concerts at the Culloden Estate and Spa, Northern Ireland and luckily thoughtsofjustafan had a willing reporter on hand to tell us how the two evenings went.  Here is Carole’s guest review of the two concerts:

“An intimate dinner & show with Alfie Boe” is what it said on the front of the menus for our pre-concert meal and that is certainly what we got. In anticipation of this Alfie experience we thought that it may be a little different and a bit special but the reality was quite simply magical. Our Boe odyssey to Belfast took us away for three days so that we could attend both nights.

Before the main man appeared we had a 30 minute performance by the Belfast Community Gospel Choir who were wonderful and got everyone in the party mood, you could tell they were as excited to be there as we were! The stage was very small and just a foot or so high so we knew we were in for a very up close and personal experience indeed. The band was the same as on the Serenata tour – Murray, Richard, Dan, Matt and John (aka Tonksy!) . Bit of déjà vu crept in as Alfie appeared to huge applause and launched into A Marachiare, Parliami d’Amore Mariu, Buona Sera, Volare and Mambo Italiano. The musical theatre section was Come What May, Wheels of a Dream and finally Bring Him Home.  Tuesday’s rendition was extra special as Alfie sang to Mark and Declan McMullan:

On Monday night someone had requested he sing Georgia, he got the first line or two out then dried up – cue giggles and a couple of unrepeatable words – he said he’d go back to it and would sing it all the way through before the night was out.  He did manage to get through it after somebody brought him out a laptop with the words googled, it was put on the floor so he got down on all fours to see a bit closer, then of course half way through the screen blacked out! Funny funny.

It was a thrill to hear two new songs from Quadrophenia, Sea & Sand and Drowned although on Tuesday he changed these to I’m One and Love Reign O’er Me. I am reliably informed that the band are working really hard on getting as big a sound as possible for some of these songs, particularly the Quad numbers, and somehow they are doing an amazing job recreating those big thumping orchestral accompaniments like the kettle drums on Love Reign. 

It was a joy to hear Run and the audience were in great singalong voice, I think this may become a staple of his upcoming summer dates.   On Tuesday members of the Gospel Choir came back on towards the end and accompanied him, really recreating that amazing moment at the VE Day concert.  The video shows the amazing crowd reaction:

On Monday night I thought I was going to burst when he launched into Don’t Stop Me Now as his encore (yayyy!!).  and he ended with Suspicious Minds (double yayy!!). His final parting gift to Belfast was a perfect acapella rendition of Danny Boy.

Most of the people we met were from Ireland and although they were fans many had never seen him live and never one to disappoint he gave them the full Boe treatment – ringing phones, chasing after loo-break escapees, selfies on stage with the band and it went down an absolute storm. One gentleman right at the front nipped out (never a good move at an Alfie concert especially if you’re sat under his nose) and while he was gone Alfie took his chair up on stage and rifled through his jacket to check for valuables all whilst continuing to sing. Cue confused man upon his return with nowhere to sit! At the end of Come What May, which is always a belter of a tune and done with such passion, he said it’s amazing what goes through his mind when he’s singing and all he could see were the cakes on one of the tables in front him (the mini muffins mentioned earlier!) so he jumped off the stage, picked up the plate and passed them round to the band, although he did managed to drop his on the floor! He was just introducing lovely Murray to everyone and a lady way at the back laughed out loud, so she was hauled up to the front and was sat on a chair right in front of Murray so she could watch and appreciate him while he played the next number. Lucky lady, poor Murray! A phone rang from behind the bar which was way over the back of the room and by then had closed, so he flew off the stage to try and answer it but didn’t make it in time!

Thank you to Carole for an amazing review; I hope she’ll do a few more for us!

The next concert review will be from Hampton Court – hope to see a few of you there.

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