This weekend saw the second and third performances of Pete Townshend’s Classic Quadrophenia, this time at The Met in New York. Just prior to this, Alfie and Pete appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, an appearance that gained Alfie a whole lot more fans, judging by the social media reaction.
For those of us not lucky enough to be there, our regular New York reporter, Roberta Kappus was in attendance and has sent us her review. This time, however, it’s a joint effort with Annie Lloyd and another regular reviewer, Cecelia Powell.
Saturday 9 September marked Alfie Boe’s debut at the Met and it was amazing. The vehicle, Pete Townshend’s Classic Quadrophenia, is unusual for the Met but with a symphony orchestra and choir conducted by Robert Ziegler and the power and range of Alfie Boe’s voice there is no doubt that the setting was right. The audience not only agreed but enthusiastically showed their appreciation throughout the show. People had come from thousands of miles and different countries to be at there and it was a diverse group: Robert Ziegler fans, Pete Townshend fans, Billy Idol fans, Alfie Boe fans and those who just really liked Classic Quadrophenia.
Alfie’s entrance was both typical Alfie and unique to Saturday’s show. He came bounding on stage at break neck speed, punching the air, jumping and leaping, going right into The Real Me. The audience loved it – the applause was instantaneous at Alfie’s appearance and at least five times during this song alone, the audience burst into further applause. Throughout, Alfie was in constant motion, completely owning the stage. He covered the whole area, moving left to right and back again and it’s a big stage. His jumping was spectacular, with legs going in different directions. That got a tremendous response. Alfie’s voice has never been stronger. Every word was clear. All the notes hit perfectly. This was Alfie in his element giving everything he had. There was no sign he was pacing himself for two nights in a row.
Not too long into the show the audience became part of the performance. Clapping with the music was encouraged and every time Alfie held out the microphone the audience responded. And in typical Alfie fashion he had the audience on its feet dancing along with the music. The audience was loving Alfie and Alfie was loving them back. F*@k was delivered at full force with Alfie at the front of the stage and a great deal of accompaniment by all of us. There was a slight mishap with Helpless Dancer which just added to a memorable evening. Alfie started with words from the middle of the song! This is sung with Pete who just continued on from where Alfie had begun, although as Alfie realised his error, he stopped singing and cued Ziegler to start again. To paraphrase Alfie if you are going to mess up make sure you do it at the Met. Turning to face the audience he loudly pronounced “I’m fired.” It was all handled very well and with great confidence by Alfie. There was no awkwardness involved and Alfie began the song again this time with the correct words and the audience applauding.
As can be expected, Billy’s entrance was greeted by loud applause and Pete’s appearance earned thunderous applause and a standing ovation. Pete was more intense than I have seen him in prior performances even breaking into a monstrous air guitar routine to the delight of all and mimicked Alfie’s dance steps as he had the prior Saturday at Tanglewood. Over the two years since the world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall, the relationship between Pete and Alfie seems to have moved on. At RAH Pete was the boss; Now, while Alfie may still be in awe of him they are clearly friends. Ziegler had his share of fans in the audience with a number of people standing and applauding when he first appeared on stage.
Finally, as the orchestra began the intro to Love Reign O’er Me it seemed as though there was a collective intake of breath from the audience in anticipation. Alfie more than nailed it. It was the best any of us have ever heard. The lushness of the orchestration, the richness and power of Alfie’s voice combined with the majesty of the Met made this the perfect venue for the song and it was more than appropriate that Alfie put his whole being into singing this. A thunderous standing ovation followed. It was truly an honour to be at there.
Thank you Roberta, Cecelia and Annie for a wonderful review – and let’s face it, it wouldn’t be Alfie if he didn’t mess up somewhere or other!
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