Storyteller tour

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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.

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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.  If you would like to see your six songs here, just fill in the form:

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Just two songs left on this year’s Best Ever Alfie Boe Song countdown which means that there’s less than two weeks until Alfie starts his Summer Together tour with Michael Ball.  If you haven’t got tickets yet, click here.  I’m once again looking for guest reviewers so make sure you read to the end!

Song number two is a song that has featured twice before, in 2014 and 2015 and is this year’s only representative from Storyteller.  Rank Strangers is an American folk song from the early twentieth century which Alfie first sang on his Bring Him Home tour of 2012 and then recorded for Storyteller that same year.  Here is Alfie’s acoustic version from the Storyteller tour:

Rank Strangers was written by Albert Brumley, a musician and singer born in Oklahoma in 1905.  After studying at the Hartford Musical Institute, Arkansas,  Brumley toured with the Hartford Quartet and went on to write / copyright an astonishing 800 songs.  The most famous of these is I’ll Fly Away from 1932.  In 1970 he was inducted into the Country Song Writer’s Hall of Fame and his songs have been covered by amongst others, Bob Dylan, who I’m sure introduced Alfie to the song:

Alfie, I hope you know that this is true dedication on my part, to feature, yet again, Bob Dylan’s vocals on this blog!

Stay tuned next week for the reveal of the fans’ Favourite Song 2017!

With the summer tour so close, I’m looking for guest reviewers again – I need reviewers for all the shows except Greenwich so if you want to have a go, send a sample of a short review of either a concert or album via this form:

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...Wayfaring Stranger in New Jersey:

First heard on the Autumn 2012 US tour, Wayfaring Stranger featured on Alfie’s 2012 album Storyteller and became a set list staple of the eponymous tour.  The song went on to feature in the first two Best Ever Alfie Boe Song polls in 2014 and 2015 and signalled a clear progression towards the style of Alfie’s next album, Trust.  Here is Alfie talking about why the song was chosen:

The joy Alfie talks about here was much more in evidence on the Storyteller tour – this is the song from the Royal Albert Hall (thanks to Linda W):

The strong backing vocals from Seweuse and Lucy are the icing on the cake for me, not to mention Murray, Matt and Nick on guitar and bass and Richard on keyboard.  I defy to stay sitting in your seat and not dance around when listening to this!

Storyteller is available here:

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We’ve reached the half way point of our count down which means it’s only five weeks until the Ball and Boe Together tour starts!  The song at number five is a song that has been on the long list since the beginning but has only now made it to the top ten.  I’m talking about The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face:

Thanks to Annie for sharing this from Blackpool on the Storyteller tour.  Why has the song just now been voted into the top ten?  Not sure if I’m honest!  Perhaps that as we’re now revisiting Alfie’s repertoire for the third time, songs that have been previously overlooked are now been reappraised.  Alfie has sung this song live on countless occasions, right from the Bring Him Home tour, both American tours and Storyteller so this might be another reason as to why it has now appeared in the top ten.

The song was written by folk singer songwriter Ewan MacColl for Peggy Seeger before they were married although the song only became world famous when Roberta Flack’s version was used in the Clint Eastwood film, Play Misty For Me.  In the years since, there have been many, many cover versions, (all of them hated, at least those recorded before 1989, apparently by MacColl) but my favourite is George Michael’s version.  I may be biased in my choice as (before Alfie, yes there was such a thing). George Michael was my absolute favourite artist.

It’s rare that I find another artist’s version better than Alfie’s version but with this song, George’s phrasing edges it for me.  Certainly, it’s the best track on George’s album Songs from the Last Century.  Interestingly, in a long ago radio interview, Alfie picked George Michael as having a great voice and could have been even better if he’d gone down the route of vocal training.

First Time Ever I Saw Your Face is from the 2011 album, Alfie and is available here:

Alfie (alfie) album

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The fourth song of this year’s best ever Alfie Boe song poll is the first of our new entries to the top ten, even though it’s been on the long list since the beginning.  Taken from the 2012 album Storyteller, It’s Over went onto be used as the opening song of the 2013 tour:

Genius to start a set with a song called It’s Over.  The song was originally nominated by our sometime guest reviewer Roberta Kappus, who said

this song was the first song of the Storyteller concert and after travelling from the US to London I arrived at the Royal Albert Hall to hear It’s Over and that’s exactly how I felt – I hadn’t heard Alfie sing live for a while and I just thought, the wait is over

It’s Over was originally performed by Roy Orbison, who also co-wrote it, together with Bill Dees. Released in 1964 as a single (although later appearing on greatest hits albums), the song hit number 1 in the UK chart, surpassing it’s best chart position on the US billboard where it reached a high of number 9.

If you want to see Alfie’s version on DVD, the Storyteller DVD is available here:

storyteller dvd

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… one of my favourite songs, Angie, at Dartford:

I fell in love with Alfie’s interpretation of the Rolling Stones’ song the first time I heard it and was thrilled to find it on his Storyteller album.  I was less thrilled to find it was no longer part of the Storyteller repertoire by the time the tour came to its last week – but I can’t grumble, that tour was amazing from start to finish.

I’ve written before about how Alfie has introduced me to other music and Angie is another example of this.  Although I’d been listening to the Stones for years, courtesy of my elder sister, Angie had somehow passed me by and I looked it up after hearing Alfie’s version.  So glad I did, (Wild Horses knocks spots off it though:

Storyteller is available on both album and DVD:

storytellercd

storyteller dvd

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…the Storyteller tour of Spring 2013:

Thanks to the talents of (mostly) Linda W and Nikki Lewis we have a lot of videos from this tour so you can see nearly every song that appeared on the set list.  This was the first time I had ever been to multiple concerts by the same artist…all in the same week!  Those of you have done the same at various times will know that each and every concert is different; each concert has moments which belong entirely in that moment and add to the atmosphere and excitement of a tour.

Other than the concerts themselves, the memories that stand out for me are the freezing weather outside the Royal Albert Hall (typical for this tour to coincide with the coldest Spring for fifty years), the search for the stage door in Blackpool which was worth it when Alfie stopped on both nights, meeting new friends hitherto known only via social media and most of all, the laughs and sheer joy of shared experiences with fabulous friends.  I’ve been lucky enough to do this again since 2013 and thankfully we get to do it all again this year, with the added bonus of Michael Ball.  Hope to see some of you there.

Storyteller is available here:

storyteller dvd

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…Emilia Mitiku! The result was a close run contest in the end with Emilia just edging it over Laura Wright, although the two did trade places once or twice in the few days before the poll closed.

I must confess at this point that I’m happy with this result as Emilia is my favourite too.  That may be something to do with the fact that I didn’t see Laura on tour with Alfie as I do really like Laura’s voice (I have her most recent album) and I have also interviewed her and she is lovely.

So what was it about Emilia that we all liked so much?  For me, she was part of that wonderful Storyteller tour where I finally met so many Alfie fans after much anticipation on social media.  I attended four of the last five concerts and it was a week that I’ll never forget, so many happy memories.  We were only slightly familiar with Emilia’s music as she had been announced late the previous year but that quickly changed as many people who saw more than one concert were happily singing along to most of her set by the end of the tour.  Emilia has a beautifully melodic voice that adapts to many different styles; sometimes her voice could be mistaken for country and Dolly Parton, at other times it sounds as if jazz is her natural home.  Her album is one that I listen to a lot.  Another reason that I love Emilia is that she sang one of my favourite Alfie Boe songs ever, Dimming of the Day (thanks to Linda W for sharing):

And here she is singing one of her own songs:

Emilia previously made the top five of the Alfie Boe Favourite Duet so it’s doubly nice to see her on top this time! She is the daughter of renowned Ethiopian singer Teshome Mitiku and grew up listening to the smoky tones of Etta, Ella, Eartha and Billie but her first brush with musical fame came via the pop world.  In 1999, Emilia Rydberg as she was then known, had a world wide smash hit with Big Big World.  That sound is light years away from the largely self written I Belong To You.  Of this musical journey, Emilia says “These melodies were probably always there, they just took their time getting out”.

Emilia Mitiku’s album, I Belong To You is available here:

emilia mitiku

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It’s polling time again!  It’s been a while since the last poll (in fact, we have to go back to last year when we voted for the second annual Best Alfie Boe Song) so we’re well overdue.  So far in our polling history we’ve found the answers to such conundrums as Alfie’s Best Look, Fans Favourite Duet, Fans Favourite Classical Video and Best Live Song but the question I’m now asking (thanks to Jan Fitzgibbons for suggesting it) is

I know, it’s a tough one!  Or then again, it might not be a tough one – you might have a firm favourite already.  It doesn’t matter if you saw all or none of the performers as we are lucky enough to have the Alfie Boe YouTube page to view all three performers (click here).

Laura Wright was of course the support act for Alfie’s first headline tour, Bring Him Home (sadly for me, before I   was a fan), Emilia Mitiku came in for the Storyteller tour and last but not least, New Zealand trio Sol3 Mio supported Alfie on the Serenata tour.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a closer look at all three acts. I do have my own favourite but I’m not going to reveal it yet!

For the purposes of this poll, we’re only looking at the main support acts for Alfie’s three headline tours of the UK so apologies to all Matt Lucas and Jason Manford fans – we’ll come back to them at a later date.

To help you decide between Laura, Emilia and Sol3 Mio, here are six videos, one each with Alfie and one by themselves (Laura’s videos show Alfie’s cheeky side and watch out for Alfie’s incidental joke at Emilia’s expense too!):

One of these videos contains one of my all time favourite Alfie songs – do you know which one?

The Storyteller and Bring Him Home tours are available on DVD:

Alfie BHH DBD

storyteller dvd

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