The day was here, no more days to wait, the Alfie Boe and Michael Ball Together tour was finally underway and my first opportunity to see the two in action was the second night, at the Bournemouth International Centre. It seems as if I’ve lived and breathed this tour since tickets went on sale back in May and although the anticipation was immense, it wasn’t until my first ticket dropped onto the door mat this week (talk about cutting it fine Ticketmaster!) that I really allowed myself to think about hearing Alfie and Michael sing live together for the first time. Although I have been aware of Michael and followed his career for a long time (indeed it was him who introduced me to Alfie via Sweeney Todd and Les Mis) and been to see him in concert a few years ago, I admit that I was curious and slightly concerned as to how his voice would blend with Alfie’s in a live setting.
I needn’t have worried – from the first note to the last, Ball and Boe were outstanding. Starting with Somewhere, with both off stage and progressing through more tracks from Together as well as nods to Sinatra, Elvis and James Bond, Alfie and Michael complemented each other beautifully and yet highlighted their differences too. Michael’s Elvis was from the later years, although I do love his song choice, The Wonder of You, whereas Alfie’s That’s Alright Mama was the closest we got to rocking Alfie, complete with guitar! The harmonies were gorgeous and the arrangements were clearly chosen to enhance the strengths of both voices and their very different approaches to singing which meant a perfect balance between the two throughout the whole concert. My favourite Together song was A Thousand Years but the finale of the Les Mis medley was absolutely spine tingling – immediately after the concert I mused that I would have liked to have heard Bring Him Home all in one go but on reflection, it was actually really lovely to hear a new way of performing a song I’ve heard lots and neatly finished the Les Mis segment, coming after the soaring vocals of I Dreamed A Dream. The encore of You’ll Never Walk Alone was also pretty special…what it will be like in Liverpool with the Kop choir I can’t imagine.
As befits two vocal giants, each had their own segment of the show and Michael gave a superb performance of Gethsemane before leading into his trademark song, Love Changes Everything. He must have sung that song thousands of times in his career but it was still magical. However, for me, the two highlights of the night came with Alfie’s solo spot. Come on, you’re not surprised by that, are you? Firstly, came my favourite song which contains my favourite line (yes, the one that goes “buttons on your blouse”) and I had to restrain myself from jumping up from my seat there and then. Luckily, Alfie had us all up on our feet singing and dancing anyway so I was a happy bunny. Here is Keep Me In Your Heart from Cardiff, thanks to Linda W for sharing:
I was even happier when Alfie went on to perform the fans favourite Alfie Boe song in our recent poll, Love Reign O’er Me from Classic Quadrophenia. Although I don’t think anything could match the intensity of that first performance at the Royal Albert Hall in 2015, last night was a close second for me. Sitting exactly in front of Alfie (I couldn’t have got a better seat if I’d tried) I could see the intense concentration and vocal technique necessary for that level of performance which once again bowled me over. Judging by the roar of applause from the almost packed arena, I wasn’t the only one either.
Overall, my first Ball and Boe concert was a triumph and I can’t wait to see where they take it by the end of the tour (I have a few more opportunities to judge). The show itself was very well rehearsed and choreographed, although I’m pleased to report that not everything went perfectly in that regard. You know you’ve been at an Alfie concert when something goes wrong and Bournemouth was no exception. Alfie’s long time MD Murray Gould and fellow guitarist, Sam, had to play a very long intro to A Wonderful World due to Alfie’s repeated corpsing and even when he eventually got the first line out, it was through gritted teeth as he was still inclined to giggle helplessly. Michael of course was no help, openly laughing until he cried. Michael and Alfie have chemistry in spades and this was abundantly clear in the banter between songs, as was the mutual respect with which these two fabulous singers hold each other.
Alfie and Michael’s new album, Together was released on Friday and is available here:
Click here to see remaining dates on the tour.
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