What a fabulous show James Morgan and Juliette Pochin, aka known as Morgan Pochin, put on this week at Symfunny, proving music and comedy are a natural fit. Although it’s fair to say that Alfie Boe fans were looking forward to seeing him sing live the most (the entire front row was peopled with Alfie fans), the whole evening was a joy from start to finish.
Al Murray proved to be the perfect host for the evening; I had heard that he has a great reputation for quick fire repartee with the audience but had not anticipated being part of it! I suppose sitting on the front row of a comedy gig does lend itself to being picked on so I was relieved when Al picked on my lovely friend Linda (one of the famous Two Linda’s). However, my relief didn’t last long as she was asked who she brought with her which then led to me…cue several laughs about teachers (Linda) and school dinners (me). Still, poor Steve the banker came off far worse although he was a great sport.
Of the other comedy acts, Jason Manford and Armstrong and Miller were my favourites. The only thing I can possibly say about Armstrong and Miller’s act is that it was fiendishly funny but unmentionable in polite conversation! Suffice to say I will never look at train toilets in the same light ever again. Jason Manford was also very funny, even if he did call Alfie’s fans “relatively normal”. However, his best bit came when he sang Volare with Alfie Boe, successfully reducing Alfie to giggles several times which reminded Alfie fans of his days appearing with Alfie on his Bring Him Home tour in 2011 / 2012. Thanks to Linda W for sharing this video (and watch James Morgan when Alfie misses his entrance):
In total, Alfie sang four songs: Wheels of a Dream, which most of us thought we’d never hear live again so thanks Alfie, Mamma, Volare and Mambo Italiano. A week later and Mambo Italiano is still going round in my head – I don’t think Alfie will have any trouble at all selling huge numbers of his next album, Serenata. Seeing Alfie and James Morgan work together again on songs they had just recorded was also special.
Other musical highlights were Rebecca Ferguson’s acapella version of Amazing Grace and Juliette Pochin singing Carmen. It was a delight to hear Juliette and also to see her and James working together on what has been a highly personal and emotional project. James and Juliette conceived the idea for Symfunny after James was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s just over a year ago. After keeping it a secret for a while, they finally decided to use their talent and contacts in the entertainment world to raise some money and awareness for this disease. Just before the interval, the audience was shown a short video of another sufferer of early onset Parkinson’s, Shamsa, and her husband and daughter. Shamsa was only 28 when diagnosed and her bravery in showing us her life is amazing. James recorded an audience shout out to her and her husband, Sarfraz, so I hope it made them smile.
The evening was rounded off with Al Murray and Alfie leading us all in a rousing rendition of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. The perfect musical end to a concert that began with James conducting Good Vibrations which shows that he at least has a sense of humour about his situation.
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