I’ve been writing about and supporting Alfie Boe for almost six years now and I can honestly say that he changed my life…irrevocably and for the better. Because of Alfie I have made lifelong friends (those Boe Buddies know who they are), have changed careers, have had a bestselling eBook, have built up a professional reputation and also a new business.
Therefore, (and I can’t believe I’m writing this) the time has come for me to move on from thoughtsofjustafan. Alfie has a new management company who are amazing and will look after both him and his fans and this has made it possible for me to take the opportunity to spread my wings in new directions. Thoughtsofjustafan will stay online and will be carrying on as is for a few weeks yet – for a start, thoughtsofjustfan is helping Alfie raise money for one of his newer charities, Rays of Sunshine so keep an eye out for that. It’s my last one so please help me to share some love for them and donate.
I will always support Alfie and his music – not least from my new project, Angry Baby Music and I’ll always be grateful to have met so many wonderful people through the years. I’ll still be going to concerts so no doubt I’ll see you there!
Stay tuned for more news on what I’m doing next – and if you want to keep up with me in the future, check out my other ventures:
Cast your minds back to the summer of 2016 and thoughtsofjustafan’s summer playlist, for which I teamed up with Flo at Angry Baby. One of the featured artists was Albert Man; fast forward to February 2017 and Man has a new EP, Nothing of Nothing Much. Through a series of serendipitous events, I was lucky enough to attend the launch show for the new EP at a hub of London’s live independent music scenes, St. Pancras Old Church, Kings Cross. This venue looks and sounds beautiful and is the perfect setting for an intimate gig – next time though I hope it’s summer as it was absolutely freezing! You know it’s cold when not only most of the audience but also half the support act keep their coats on throughout.
The best thing about hearing independent musicians perform live is the wealth of live performance experience they have. Touring their music is often the best and sometimes only way to get their music heard and produces a well honed sound that usually manages to sound raw and authentic at the same time. Luckily, Albert Man was not an exception to this rule, playing a set comprised of songs from his previous album, Cheap Suit, and the new EP, with David Bowie and an as yet unreleased song thrown in.
The highlights were Diamond in the Rough, a co-write with one of the supporting acts, Joe Garvey, and You Had Me At Hello. Angry Baby Music recently reviewed Nothing of Nothing Much and says of Diamond in the Rough
What do we miss when we’re looking for perfection? Taking a philosophical turn, Diamond In The Rough questions the value of love vs money, when plenty of the former can’t seem to compensate for a lack of the latter. Showcasing the bitterly poignant side to Albert’s vocals, the track builds from the simplest scaffolding of story-telling, leaving recollection space for the listener’s own experience.
Given that this was a co-write with Joe Garvey, who also played on the EP and was a support act, I would have liked to see him join Man on stage for this song. However, it was still a stonking song. You Had Me At Hello featured Louize Carroll on vocals and she also features on the live version (recorded in Dublin last year) of the song that comes as a bonus track on the EP. Angry Baby’s review says
Opening with tinkling chords and introducing Collette Williams’s delicate vocal harmonies, You Had Me At Hello is a testimony to love at first sight. With a classical/country crossover flavour, beautifully supported by Sarah Lynch’s violin (previously heard with Mumford and Sons, Ed Sheeran and The Strokes, to name a few), this is a reflection on the million little things that make relationships last – right from the first hello. If you’re looking for a song to dance to at your golden wedding anniversary, this could well be it.
Click here to read the rest of Angry Baby’s review and to get a FREE Cheap Suit track. This is one of the songs from Nothing of Nothing Much, Riding Shotgun:
Man will be playing more live gigs in the near future, check out where here.
Man had two support acts, Craig Gallagher and the aforementioned Joe Garvey. Gallagher’s guitar led ballads had the crowd singing along while Garvey, as the second act on stage was a joy from beginning to end; funk, jazz, pop and rock sizzled from the band and ensured that the crowd was pumping for the main event. Garvey was nominated in the Unsigned Music Awards 2016 and is surely someone to watch for the future.
I recently heard some great new music from Angry Baby and I wanted to share it with you – thanks Flo!
Being a fearless storyteller is a great starting point for any contemporary folk singer. Add to that the creativity to build stand-out instrumentation topped by a voice that is uniquely sweet and complex and you have all the ingredients you need for a breakthrough folk album.
That’s what I found in Kelly Oliver’s Bedlam, released on boutique indie label Folkstock Records on 6 March 2016. It’s no surprise that she is already a favourite with the UK’s Folk Radio station and legendary music presenter Whispering Bob Harris.
Before you read on, Kelly Oliver is giving a FREE download of her song Lay Our Heavy Heads from Bedlam to Angry Baby readers – just click here to hop over to Angry Baby and get your free track.
Raised in Hertfordshire, Kelly Oliver’s Celtic heritage shines through. Lay our Heavy Heads is a timeless love story that gives the album a flavour of ‘Once the Musical’ – appealing to anyone’s inner musical theatre geek, especially mine!
I guess that Kelly comes from a tradition of strong women. Miles To Tralee, which Kelly wrote for her grandmother, tells a first generation immigrant story of struggle, against a backdrop of love and tragedy, and it’s clear that the young woman who is the subject of the story is a force to be reckoned with. Go Granny!
Kelly’s own life story proves that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Proud of her working class roots, though clearly not constrained by them, Kelly was travelling the world when, one day in Rio, she resolved to make her living from her music. It’s a gutsy decision, especially for someone who pours herself into her lyrics and doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects. But with courage in her genes, we shouldn’t expect Kelly Oliver to do any less than challenge us with her stories, while giving us music that entertains and enchants.
The title track Bedlam doesn’t pull any punches. Just to prove that folk music is built on the tough stuff of human existence, Kelly Oliver brings us the hellish scenes of Victorian mental asylums and the cruelty meted out to women suffering from post-natal depression. Cheery it ain’t, but social justice isn’t won with pretty poems.
Bedlam delivers contrast too. Within the Celtic vibe and theme of feisty women, Jericho could (in my head anyway) have been written for a Disney princess – specifically Merida, from Brave, all grown up and ready to claim her man. ‘I’ll fight off any girl in town, for him I’ll break the walls of Jericho down‘.
In the City tells a contemporary story of urban love and violence through mediaeval imagery of hunting and dancing, while The Other Woman explores a love triangle, proving that some themes are timeless.
Die this Way, brings us full circle to themes of social justice through a migrant’s eyes ‘Daddy, I don’t wanna stay here… why is there screaming and shouting and shooting…lets move away…they won’t let us in, why would they keep us out here …like a dog in the rain?‘. The final song Rio ends the album on a high note, something a little more cheerful, upbeat and optimistic to finish on,which you can expect to hear many more times as we near the start of the 2016 Olympics.
With such a creative, inspiring and thought-provoking selection of songs, Bedlam is definitely an album that no self-respecting music collection should be without. I have a feeling Granny is proud.
I asked Kelly what advice she would give to someone just starting out with their music. As you might expect, her advice reveals the steel in her spine:
‘Hopefully anyone starting out in music is passionate about the music they create and perform, which is the best place to start!
An important lesson I’ve learned is to make the most of your social media – engage with and respond to your fans and get your music online so that it can be listened to and shared. Invest in good promo photos and album cover photos – these get shared more widely than you might initially think!
I’d say try not to compare yourself too much to other musicians on the scene. Every musician is following their own personal path, and it’s more productive to focus on your own musical journey and concentrate on what you personally want to achieve as a musician.
Expect rejection and learn to brush it off instantly – it’s what I’ve done from the very beginning and it’s been the most valuable piece of advice that I’ve ever received. Saying that, it’s also important to keep an eye out for opportunities and take them wherever you can. I personally celebrate every small victory and, for me, that makes every day of being a musician fulfilling.’
Producer Harvey Weinstein said “… who better to take over the role than Alfie Boe? Known for his exquisite tenor voice, he’s also a superb actor whom we’re thrilled to have as part of the family.”
Director Diane Paulus went on to say “It is very exciting that our next J.M. Barrie will be Alfie Boe, whose breadth of experience and enormous musical talents I know will make him a thrilling Barrie. I can’t wait to work with Alfie and to welcome him to our company at the Lunt-Fontanne.”
Alfie himself said “I can’t wait to join this wonderful show and cast. I’m so excited. Just a little disappointed I’m not Tinkerbell” – glad to see the sense of humour is still intact!
So, how do we feel about Alfie taking on the role of JM Barrie in this new musical? When the rumours first surfaced this week, there were a fair amount of tweeters suggesting that while Alfie has a wonderful voice, he’s not right for the part. Looking closer at these tweets, it seems that most of the concern revolved around Alfie’s age as the previous performers in the role have been younger; add in the casting of a younger Sylvia and you can see why the comments were made.
However, what if the casting of a actor who is the same age as Barrie when he wrote about Peter Pan were to redefine the role? To answer this question, I turned to Angry Baby Music’s Flo Bannigan, who recently chose Finding Neverland as one of her Top Ten Shows of 2016. This is what she had to say:
Alfie is currently the same age as JM Barrie when he first wrote about Peter Pan so he is the perfect choice for the role. So far, younger actors have been cast but having someone older might mean a change of emphasis on the way the relationships are played out. The main relationship centres around that of Barrie and Sylvia but I’m intrigued to see how Alfie’s portrayal brings out Barrie’s relationship to the children – many reviews of him in Les Mis have specifically mentioned the authenticity of Alfie’s relationship with little Cosette. Different actors bring different aspects to the same character, no actor wants to take on a new role and play it exactly the same as all the others who went before.
When Alfie stepped onto the stage at the O2, he transformed the role of Jean Valjean forever. This was underlined when he stepped forward during the Valjean quartet – there was a definite sense of the baton having passed and a new style of JVJ was born from a different genre of performing arts. Before that, if you had asked ardent Les Mis fans whether JVJ could be played by an opera singer who wasn’t big and full of muscles they would probably have said no. That all changed after the 25th anniversary concert. Why shouldn’t he do the same for JM Barrie in Finding Neverland?
Thanks Flo. So, as Alfie so successfully redefined one of the most iconic roles in modern musical theatre, what if he could do the same for a new musical like Finding Neverland? How amazing would that be!
In the meantime, have you entered the Alfie Boe Les Mis Goodie Bag competition yet? Click here – good luck!