Trust

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Another Saturday in June 2018 and another opportunity to spend an evening with the beautiful music of Alfie Boe, this time in Scarborough.  Alfie was there a year ago, almost to the day, with wet weather of biblical proportions but this time around, the sun shone, and so of course, did Alfie and his band, each of whom are brilliant musicians / singers and complement each other as well as Alfie.

Each of the three concerts I’ve attended this summer has been different, despite having a similar set list.  Fleetwood was magical and the experience of a lifetime, Kenwood was one of the smoothest Alfie concerts I’ve ever seen and Scarborough saw Alfie at his most relaxed, taking a couple of mistakes in his stride and having the audience wrapped around his little finger from the very first note. Changing the lyrics of Volare to “Oh Scarborough, beautiful Scarborough, the beautiful town by the sea, I know you’ve been waiting for me” didn’t hurt either!  There was banter aplenty, audience included and a fabulous moment for fan Geoff, singing his heart out on Keep Me In Your Heart.

Alfie likes to change up the set list with each concert he does, even if it’s only the running order but this summer, each concert has seen at least one new song.  Scarborough saw Alfie include Wild Flowers from Tom Petty and it was wonderful:

Another song new to me and I think I’ve found the next subject of Exploring New Music.

Other highlights included Run, which saw Alfie run around the entire audience, including up in the stands, You’re The Voice, featuring the support act Belle Voci (they also returned for Run), Ophelia, and He Lives In You.  Every time I hear Alfie sing this, I love it more.   Sing, Sing, Sing and A Pencil Full of Lead started the evening off with a bang and along with The Way You Look Tonight (one of my new favourites) assured me that the new album is going to be a corker.  Due out some time in November, it appears that as well as big band sounds, the album will also be exploring New Orleans rootsy, gutsy jazz – I can’t wait.  Alfie’s voice is made for rootsy, gutsy music – the last few tracks of Storyteller and Rosie on Trust demonstrate his mastery of this sound and it will be a treat to see what he makes of it.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind and a rollercoaster in one and I’m so grateful for all the supportive messages you’ve sent me  – I really do appreciate it. it’s also been a pleasure to meet so many readers over the last few weeks.  If you want to know more about what Jane did next, click here.  Alfie ha brought many wonderful things to my life and one of the best is the fabulous friends I’ve made.  Attending a concert is made all the more special by spending time with these wonderful ladies.  Thank you to Linda A, Linda W (me and the two Linda’s are now able to give guided tours around the North Bay area of Scarborough), Cecelia, Annie, Pauline H, Jean, Ayano, Mitsuko, Jennifer and Donna, Pat and Janet, Carole N, Sue, Barbara Watkinson, Roberta and Sharon for your friendship and company.

There will be another competition over the summer, to win a few signed goodies so make sure you’re subscribed to get first chance at entering!

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Wow, what a night we had in Fleetwood on Saturday! Before I’ve even started this review, I’ve run out of superlatives – Alfie was on phenomenal form, holding the audience in the palm of his hand from beginning to end and basking in the love shown to him by the town, love that was clearly reciprocated.

Throwing in songs that spanned Alfie’s most recent albums (Serenata, Trust, Classic Quad, Together and Together Again) and a selection of songs Alfie clearly loves, this felt like a very personal set list – there wasn’t one song that didn’t work.  Opening with Sing, Sing, Sing from his new swing album (November 2018), Alfie demonstrated a mastery of yet another musical genre:

Paolo Nutini’s Pencil Full of Lead was just one of several new songs we heard, along with Ophelia, Wichita Lineman, Islands in the Stream, with backing singer Tor (loved this one), Queen’s Spread Your Wings and Pinball Wizard / See Me Feel Me medley from The Who’s Tommy.  Would have liked to hear Pinball Wizard all the way through – even better, I’d like to hear Alfie singing this with the Kaiser Chiefs, who, to my mind, do the best live cover of this. Click here to see more videos from Linda Wellington and Annie Lloyd.

As always, the band were amazing, with Murray, Dan and Tonksy being joined by Pete on guitar and Nigel on keyboards.  Backing singer Tor has also been with Alfie before, on the Together tours and the brass section were magnificent:

The addition of Pete seems to indicate that playing guitar for Alfie necessitates a lot of hair (Dan on bass needs to step into line) but both Pete and Nigel slotted right into the band whilst also bringing something new into the dynamic.  With only these few concerts lined up, let’s hope that we see more of Pete and Nigel in the future.

The song choice was weighted heavily in favour of those that could be danced to but of course Alfie found time for Bring Him Home, or Bring It Home as he said a lot of people call it (I once sat next to someone , in Blackpool of all places, who said I think he sings a song called Take Me Home – perhaps she was wishfully thinking!), preceded by the song he sang on Britain’s Got Talent, The Way You Look Tonight.  Both were outstanding, accompanied by one of the brass section and Murray, respectively; Alfie stayed in the Bring Him Home bubble a lot longer than usual and was clearly moved when he saw the audience reaction.

To the crowd’s evident delight, the second half started with Alfie and the band taking to the stage with the new Fleetwood Town FC strip, personalised in each case and as he did throughout the evening, did a shout out for Trinity Hospice, who were out in force with collection buckets.  Alfie is their patron and if you weren’t able to attend the concert itself, click here to see the excellent work they do.

When this homecoming concert was first announced it was clear that it would be a concert like no other and not to be missed.  Alfie singing in Blackpool is something special but Fleetwood is in a category of it’s own.  Throw in Jimmy watching from his upstairs window and Alfie’s Aunty Eileen almost stealing the show and you have the perfect evening.  Alfie thought so, asking “why haven’t I done this before, it’s great” and declaring that he definitely wanted to return and do it again – the roar of appreciation as he said this indicates there’ll be a ready and willing audience.  He was having such a great time, when it was finished (latest concert ever at 11.30!) he then popped into Highbury social club for a dance!  He’s come a long way from the Marine Hall.

On a personal note, it was lovely to see so many fans and special thanks to those who found time to say hello, much appreciated.  Wouldn’t have been the same without seeing so many friends, Paul and Pauline, Jennifer, Donna, Chelley, Linda Evans, Sonia, Pat and Janet, Carole, Karen, Jean, Nancy, Marj, Andrea, Carole and Eric, Jayne and Linda W (thanks for the videos).  Sue, Pauline, Roberta, Annie, Angie and Cecelia, not to mention my bestie Linda A made a fabulous night even more special with a great after party that went on into the wee small hours!

Before I go, can I ask a favour for Alfie and Michael?  They have made it to the shortlist for Album of the Year at the Classic BRITS and need your vote – please click here (UK voters only) to vote – thank you!

 

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Last night saw the first concert of Alfie Boe’s summer concerts, in Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow. Roving reporters Roberta Kappus and Annie Lloyd were there for thoughtsofjustafan:

Glasgow was simply everything anyone could have hoped for – two hours and fifteen minutes of Alfie’s musical talent, backed by an incredible band (there was no support act). There was no intermission and it was pure Alfie, covering what could be described as his greatest hits and more. It was musical heaven and as it was Alfie’s first UK solo performance since Leeds in 2015, to say it was well worth the wait would be an understatement.

Last night we were once again treated to Alfie’s amazing talent as he began with swing from his upcoming album. We then journeyed through Serenata, both Together albums and concerts, Trust and Classic Quadrophenia. He saved the best till last with a mix of country and rock and never before heard material from Alfie.  He was back on the guitar for Wagon Wheel, an amazing Glen Campbell medley and an Islands in the Stream duet with one of the female singers. Alfie has an amazing ability to sing a previously recorded song heard many times before and place his own mark on it. Once Alfie has sung it the song is never the same again.

The addition of Tommy after Quad was a fantastic surprise and a massive crowd pleaser; he really hit his stride from this point, loosening up and clearly enjoying playing the music he loves alongside fantastic musicians who out played any orchestra.

Yes he did sing Bring Him Home, to a standing ovation, but not before teasing the audience that he was going to sing from Les Mis, instead launching into You’ll Be Back from Hamilton, accompanied with stories of his time on Broadway.

A fantastic night that can only be even bigger and better in Fleetwood.

Another fabulous review from two star reporters – roll on Fleetwood!

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Another edition in our occasional series of Six Sensational Songs and this time it’s the turn of Audrey Buchan,  Yet again, the strength of Alfie’s repertoire is shown as Audrey has chosen three songs that have not been chosen before.  I have to say that Audrey was a little naughty with her choices – she actually chose seven but one is not available as a video so it was easy to miss out!

If I can Dream, from Storyteller – love this video, as it shows Alfie in his element with such talented musicians.

Shine a Light, also from Storyteller.  

Forever Young, from Trust. A magical evening and the one and only time we have heard Alfie sing practically the whole Trust album.  Alfie was “knackered” at this point as he had previously been dancing, and had half the audience up there with him!

A Living Prayer, Onward – one of our most popular choices in this series.  Beautiful.

Santa Lucia, La Pasione.  To be added to the very long list of songs I would love to hear live.

Addio Sogni Di Gloria, Serenata – another glorious evening at the Royal Albert Hall.

Thank you Audrey for sharing your Six Sensational Songs with us – I really enjoy researching this series!

If you would like to share your Six Sensational Songs with us, please fill in the form:

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Earlier this year, we looked at the pleasures of meeting Alfie Boe and it was so much fun to see so many photos of Alfie’s lovely fans.  On the back of that, I asked you to send in your photos and experiences of meeting Alfie and you didn’t disappoint!

Starting us off are two ladies who shared photos with Alfie at a stage door and the Trust album signing in London.  Kate Griffin first ran into Alfie at the Les Mis stage door and this is what she says:

My very first meet with Alfie was quite by chance at the stage door when he appeared in Les Mis. My husband and I travelled to London to see the show and happened to be passing the back of the theatre prior to the show. As we walked by we spotted Alfie on the other side of the street as he dived in to a bar! We thought that was it and he was gone but he must have been looking for someone as he immediately came back out again and crossed the street toward us. I was so excited as I think you can see in my face! He was quite happy to spend a minute or two chatting and posing! I’ve been so lucky to since have had two official meet and greets and another stage door greet at Carousel as well as the HMV signing last year. So I am truly blessed and lucky to be able to say I’ve met him a few times and had that arm around my waist for photos and seen close in to those gorgeous brown eyes!

The second story is from Lesley Armstrong and her photo is from the Trust album signing:

Lesley Armstrong HMV 2013

Lesley says

I have had the opportunity to meet with Alfie on many occasions, and he never fails to bring me joy as it’s a reminder of how hard he has worked to get to where he is today in his profession. He is the best opera singer Britain has ever produced, and is so humble & wonderful to his fans. He puts you immediately at ease and the tongue tie you feel disappears and you break into a huge smile just being around him. I am feeling less tongue tied the more I meet him trying to relax and just take in those rare special moments with him that seem to pass so quickly so touchable to be prepared if you wan’t to ask that specific question or get that special photo of you both together. Alfie is the only man who could make me travel the world just to see him; even for just 5 minutes I would be there to support him. He’s our treasure and a wonderful entertainer.

Thank you Kate and Lesley – treasured memories indeed!

There are still meet and greet packages available for Alfie’s solo UK shows – click here for details.

If you would like to see your own photo and story here, then please fill in the form!

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Three months into my 2018 new year resolution to listen to more music and this time, I’m looking at an artist introduced to me by Alfie but suggested for this project by Gill Jansingh.  The artist is Warren Zevon and he wrote the song that has become my all time favourite song by Alfie Boe, the wonderful Keep Me In Your Heart.  Although the basics of the song are the same in both versions, it’s Alfie’s interpretation and voice that really shakes the buttons on my blouse – they’re perfectly safe with Zevon’s original!

Of Zevon’s albums, I concentrated on three for this post, the eponymous 1975 album, 1978’s Excitable Boy and The Wind, released just before his death in 2003 (Keep Me In Your Heart is from The Wind).  Of the three, although liking elements from all, my favourites are Warren Zevon and The Wind.  Encompassing musical genres such as country, rock, folk, pop and blues, Zevon’s own style is somewhat harder to describe; in this respect at least, he reminds me of Alfie’s eclectic musical career so far.

There are several outstanding songs on The Wind, namely Numb As A Statue, Prison Grove, El Amor De Mi Vida and Rest of the Night, that showcase Zevon’s talent as a lyricist.  Please Stay and Rub Me Raw are also little gems, while Knockin on Heavens Door is one of the best versions of the Dylan classic that I’ve heard.  Prison Grove sounds like an old chaingang style song, similar to the rhythms of Rosie, from Alfie’s Trust album, while Rest of the Night is a great dancing tune which exhorts us to just enjoy life while you can – “we’ve got the rest of the night”.

Zevon’s eponymous album of 1975 has some cracking tunes and eminently singable lyrics, even if the meaning of what you’re singing takes you by surprise on occasion.  Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me, also a hit for Linda Ronstadt, is a song with great danceability and simple yet powerful lyrics that take a somewhat dark turn, as does Carmelita, which beguiles with a country sound whilst Zevon sings about addiction.  Sleep When I’m Dead, surely an anthem for would be rockers, has a definite edge of punk.

Excitable Boy was the least successful of the three albums I concentrated on for this post and also seemed to contain the most pop / rock sound.  Having said that, there aren’t that many albums that reference the Biafran war early on – Zevon was certainly an intelligent lyricist who knew how to tell a story as well as make the listener think.

One of the most enjoyable parts of listening to music recorded a while ago is working out the musical influences; I could hear Springsteen, Dylan, Johnny Cash and Eric Clapton amongst others and yet I know that many of you will hear different things again.  What do I take from Warren Zevon? The joy of music written for the sheer joy of writing and recording and not with one eye on the sales market, and it seems that his music was a critical success right from the start with the sales being a little harder to come by.  This is perhaps due to the intrinsic difficulty of categorising the music so this would be a good moment to remind ourselves of Alfie’s perception of music: it’s either good or bad.  And Warren Zevon’s music is good, very good.

The Wind and other albums are available here:

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Only a few days until March begins which means we’re moving closer to seeing Alfie Boe perform live, either in the US in May or back in the UK over the summer.  In the meantime, let’s take a look at Tricia Howard’s Six Sensational Songs.  Tricia, like all of us who have done it, says she found it “so hard to narrow it down to even six songs as I get chills just about every single time I hear his voice. I had to pull out all of my Alfie track lists to decide.”

Bring Him Home.  Tricia says  “I am pretty sure this is going to be on just about everyone’s list (and for great reason – it is “his song” after all). My first Alfie experience was him in the 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Mis playing Valjean  It was also my introduction to Les Mis in general and when he came out and sang that song…. my entire emotional psyche was shaken. His connection with the piece is so genuine – it’s one of the most unbelievable musical experiences I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. I’m an actress and opera singer as well, and his vocal control in this song is impeccable which just adds to it all.”

Again from Les Mis, Who Am I, chosen because the first time Tricia saw Alfie live was at the Imperial Theatre reprising the role of Valjean and she got front row centre orchestra seats.   Tricia says “when he sang this song onstage he was making eye contact with me the whole time and I was there mouthing every word with him. He truly is a gifted actor – it’s not all just about his voice, it’s everything.”

Brindisi from La Traviata, with Natasha Marsh.  Tricia chose this because “this makes my opera heart SOAR. When I am on the subway listening to this song I am so empowered to get through the day. I always pretend I’m Natasha Marsh getting to sing alongside him.”  I’m with you on that one, Tricia.  This was on BBC’s Children in Need but the song is actually from Natasha’s album, although it later appeared on Alfie’s You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Dr Jimmy from Classic Quad.  Tricia chose this because “I grew up listening to The Who and this was always a favourite of mine. What I really love about this entire album is this is the type of music that Alfie LOVES to perform. He talks about it in his autobiography (he actually mentions both Billy Idol and Michael Ball in the book which makes my heart happy that he got to perform with them both) and I think it’s so amazing that he is living out his dream. He has such a wide range of talent.”

Tell Me It’s Not True, Blood Brothers, chosen because this was the first song Tricia ever heard of Alfie’s outside of Les Mis and it really sunk in that he was my all time favourite artist.

Rosie, from Trust (to my knowledge, still the only time Alfie has sung this live) at the Royal Festival Hall.  Tricia speak for all of us I think when she says “it just astounds me how wide his ability is. Not many people can go from Puccini to Elvis to Lloyd Webber to Sinatra and absolutely KILL ALL OF THEM”.

Thank you so much Tricia for sharing your song choices with us – just one new addition to the list this time but the inclusion of Bring Him Home means that it is now the most popular choice, taking over from Love Reign O’er Me.

If you would like to share your Six Sensational Songs with us, please fill in the form:

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Danny Boy in the Utah Senate and 9 February was proclaimed as Alfie Boe Day in Utah!

Danny Boy was featured on Alfie’s 2013 album, Trust and is the only version of this song that I’ll happily listen to – the version I like best is that recorded as part of the commemmoration of JFK’s assassination:

Although of course traditionally associated with Ireland, the lyrics were in fact written by an English writer!

Trust is available here:

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Half way through our hunt to find our favourite live Alfie Boe song and we come to another new entry into the top ten although Forever Young has featured quite heavily in the annual Alfie Boe Best Recorded Song poll.  The live version from the US Memorial Day concert 2016 was nominated by Sheila Currie who also chose it amongst her six sensational songs.

The song was written by Bob Dylan, an Alfie favourite, for his son and the lyrics are just beautiful, working so well for remembrance events.  In recent years Alfie has indeed performed this song twice at US and UK remembrance concerts so we have to go back to 2013 to hear the version that appears on Alfie’s album Trust:

Just love Alfie’s intro to this song – however many times you hear this anecdote, it’s still great!

Trust is available here:

Alfie’s new album, Together Again, with Michael Ball has just been released and is available here:

If you want to win a signed copy – make sure you’re subscribed to this blog to be in with a chance!  You also get four Alfie photos to download!

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August is traditionally a quiet time for Alfie Boe and his fans and 2017 is no exception.  How lucky then that we have Eliane’s Six Sensational Songs to keep us going!  Eliane is from Brazil and first started following Alfie after seeing him at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 – here are her six songs.

O Sole Mio / Now or Never – Eliane says “unforgettable, the first time I’ve seen or heard Alfie”.

I’m showing the clip of Trust instead of a full performance as Elaine fell in love with this and it’s now her ringtone!

Dimming of the Day – Eliane’s heart “gets tight, especially in the line ‘I see you on the street in company'” – I’m right there with you on that Eliane.

My Heart is Yours, chosen because Eliane “loves the sweetness and poetry of the lyrics” which as we know, were written by Alfie himself.

Parlami D’Amore Mariu, because Eliane “loves Alfie singing in Italian” – a lot of fans would agree!  This performance is from way back in early 2012.

For the third time, Love Reign O’er Me from Classic Quad has been chosen to be part of this series, making it equal to Fratello Sole, Sorella Luna and second only to A Living Prayer.

Thanks Eliane for your choices – yet again, I’m amazed that each selection gives us at least one song not nominated before.  Altogether we have chosen thirty nine Alfie songs – impressive!  If you would like to join the series, please fill in the form:

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