Alfie Boe and Michael Ball moved onto Birmingham last night for the latest show of their Together Again 2017 tour and Kate Griffin was there to review for us:
Our night began with a thrilling meet and greet experience that was just wonderful. It was very well organised and everyone was getting a buzz from watching the boys as we each took our turn to be photographed with them and have a little chat. They were both relaxed, with Michael the more buoyant one whilst Alfie was a little more reserved and quieter. As we approached for our two minutes of their attention Alfie was so kind and gentle and softly spoken. He happily signed my photos and programme and chatted for a couple of minutes. I told him I was reviewing the concert and was expecting a good performance and he told me the end was a surprise to watch out for and to which Michael over heard and chipped in about Alfie getting all the attention as always! They spent about an hour overall with fans and left us all on a high in anticipation about what was to come.
The concert was beyond all expectations from start to finish. As the other reviewers have said before me if you thought Together was good and couldn’t be beaten, just wait until you’ve seen Together Again! Michael and Alfie appeared looking very cool and casual in skinny jeans and jackets with Alfie opting for biker boots and an untucked silk black shirt which I am sure set many hearts aflutter! Michael looked fitter than he has for some time and dressed to match Alfie making him appear younger and trendier. They came on to a wonderful backdrop made from a collection of photos of their year reminding us of their obvious bromance and love for each other.
The lyrics of You’ll Be Back from Hamilton set them giggling and the banter began; the lyrics unfolded with Michael singing “you belong to me”, to Alfie which gets Alfie making two finger signs at him in jest and then as the song goes on it ends up with Alfie on his knees at Michael singing “for ever and ever and ever”. We were treated to Hero which was just beautiful and then Tell Me Its Not True which brought out the richness and depth in both their voices. I felt it was quite a slow paced build up to a powerful ending which had the crowd bowled over by this point. As the songs were sung the backdrops were simple patterns and colours and beautifully enhanced their vocals and were perfect in setting the mood for each song. As we got to Not While I’m Around from Sweeney Todd the back drop turned blood red and the lighting filling the stage also red which helped portray the mood of this musical. As they sang this their caring and gentle sides was very apparent and I thought it came over how much love they have for each other and that they had each other’s back at all times. The graphical backdrop for The Rose was a beautiful setting and the boys began to sing again quietly and softly. Michael showing his acting through song ability and Alfie being very gentle before their voices joined together to build up to the crescendo of a very powerful ending.
Michael then declared he was worn out so let’s have a sit down. They messed around at this point making the audience laugh as Alfie feeds Michael water from his bottle and Michael leant his head on Alfie’s shoulder to which Alfie shouted “you’ve got makeup on me jacket” in his lovely Northern accent! As Michael announces the next song from the last tour Alfie pretends he hates it and they start joking about it as Michael rubs Alfie’s shoulder to remove the make up. They then sang one of my very favourites, A Thousand Years from Twilight as huge floating candles filled the back drop to bring a beautiful ambience to the Arena. The song was both powerful and passionate and beautifully delivered. More banter followed after this, which involved Alfie fidgeting with his microphone pack wires in the back of his shirt. Michael tried to help with Alfie then declaring the “wires gone up me bum!” The audience were in stitches and then with Alfie trying his best to get away from Michael with his stool they began chasing each other around. At this point Alfie suggested they put the lights on to see the audience. Once on, he ran off as if scared by the number of people he can see and Michael claimed its “like we’re One Direction!” Love Changes Everything came next with yet more little funny moments between them that fit aptly with the lyrics. Alfie felt Michael’s knee and got the response “wait till I get you on that bus.” It is quite beautiful how Michael has let Alfie share his song and they made it a refreshing new version as enormous light bulbs float behind them on the backdrop.
For act two the boys appeared still in their jeans and boots but having changed into jacket and ties. After the opening couple of songs, Alfie teased the audience as he declared rumours that Michael has begged him to sing songs from a famous pop group which led the audience to think Wham is coming. Of course it was Queen and a simply stunning arrangement of songs which Alfie just rocked to perfection. That rock god came out as he climbed on the railings, arms in the air and encouraging the audience to scream and they brought the house down. Michael said let’s keep the party going as Alfie went off for a break, singing You Can’t stop the Beat to a backdrop of fabulous photos of him in the role of Edna Turnblad. The crowd were on their feet dancing by now as he told us he misses wearing a dress! He talked about the dream year he’s had with Alfie and how much he loves him as his best mate to share adventures with, leading nicely into The Impossible Dream. As Michael left to a standing ovation, Alfie returned saying “hello, I’ve got a guitar”. He thanked Michael for the last twelve months saying he is a wonderful guy to make fun of. A beautiful country song, Wagon Wheel, follows, confidently strumming and jamming with his fellow musicians. Following was a dedication to our armed forces and Alfie asked us to put our torches on whilst he sung Run. It was evident why this won the poll for best live performance as the atmosphere was electric and most poignant. It was a beautiful moment.
The ending was like the best party you have ever been to, with such a happy atmosphere that you never wanted to end. To finish off, we were so lucky to be sitting next to Alfie’s sister Pauline. She was delightful and happily chatted away to us about Alfie. She is clearly one very proud big sister who constantly referred to him as her “Baby Brother”, beaming the whole way through the concert and bursting with pride. She says he is a very humble man, who gets nervous but adores making people happy . She said that what we see is what we get with Alfie and that he is exactly the same at home as we see him on the stage. Which brings me back to my big sis who I took as my guest. She loved every moment and tells me today that it was a wow concert that she could watch over and over again. I think Alfie has just gained another fan!
Thank you to both Michael and Alfie for such a wonderful, heart-warming and entertaining night. Also to the backing singers, musicians and orchestra. From beginning to end, what a superb evening of wall to wall entertainment.
Thanks Kate for a great review.
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