Tag Archives: festival of Remembrance

Helen Bird’s Six Sensational Songs

This week, we’re looking at Helen Bird’s Six Sensational Songs.  Helen first saw Alfie at the Festival of Remembrance in 2007, a fresh faced young man, singing Bring Him Home.  At the time she just thought nothing of the singer, just that it was an apt song for Remembrance Weekend.  These are Helen’s six songs:

Pure Imagination from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Helen says ” I adore this film especially this song”.

I Vow To Thee My Country.  Helen says “This hymn reminds me of the many military church services I attended with my hubby whilst he was serving in the Army. I’ve chosen Linda Wellington’s footage of Alfie accompanied by The Central Band of The Royal British Legion at the First World War Commemorative Concert, St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle as this sounds just amazing.”

If I Can Dream from Storyteller.  Helen chose this as everyone has hopes and dreams and this sums it all up.

O Holy Night from Boston Pops’ Sleigh Ride.  Helen says “This is a hymn that will always remind me of my dear departed Mum, albeit I first saw and heard it being sung by Mario Lanza in the film The Great Caruso when we watched films on a Saturday afternoon, usually whilst she did the ironing.”

Love Reign O’er Me from Classic Quadrophenia.   This was the first time that Helen heard this song live, at Alfie and Michael’s outdoor concert at Walcot Hall in Shropshire in July 2017.  This was the second time Helen had seen Alfie live, the first being Birmingham in 2013.

Bring Him Home, Alfie’s signature song.  Helen says “I first heard him sing  this back in 2007. Although I didn’t start appreciating Alfie’s voice until my daughters brought home the DVD of the 25th anniversary concert of Les Miserables and I sat there transfixed to the TV, listening to the voice we all truly love. I decided to choose the 2007 Festival of Remembrance version because to me it brings to mind the importance of when it was performed and also because of my hubby’s military background. He lost several comrades during his time served and if he went away on exercise, I used to say to myself after he had left the house, bring him home safely.”

Thank you Helen for sharing your six sensational songs with us – three more new songs to add to our list!

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Alfie Boe Best Ever Song 2018: Number Three

Just three more weeks of the poll to find out your favourite Alfie Boe recorded song – and we come to his signature tune, Bring Him Home:

Bring Him Home is of course a constant in Alfie’s live performances and in this annual poll; twice being voted number one and never being lower than number four.  So much has been written about Alfie and this song (quote a lot of it by me!) and it’s always a challenge to come up with something new to say about it, so this time, I’ll let Alfie do the talking with an extract from his autobiography, My Story.  Alfie is talking about his life changing appearance at the Les Mis 25th anniversary concert:

I knew that Bring Him Home would be my moment, the golden key.  I knew that was it.  ‘Boy needs a song!’  It’s incredible, how that song came to me again, after our false alarm with the Festival of Remembrance.  We knew that was the one, but it disappeared, and we didn’t think of it again until Cameron Mackintosh knocked on the door.  And it is such a spiritual song, it’s so special.  When Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil write it they must have been excited.  They must have known they had something special…Herbert Kretzmer was really stumped with the lyrics, he didn’t know what words would fit to these three syllable lines.  The John Caird, the co-director, said the melody sounded like a prayer, and Herbert wrote it overnight.  It is a prayer, it’s acutally called The Prayer, it’s not officially called Bring Him Home, and I treat it as such every time I sing it.  I pray.  That’s what makes it work.

Beautiful words from Alfie – and for those who don’t know, Alfie sang Bring Him Home at the Festival of Remembrance in 2007 and Harvey Goldsmith said, “boy needs a song” after the performance.  It just took a few more years to really get hold of it!

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Karen Blower’s Six Sensational Songs

The first Six Sensational Songs post for 2018 is from Karen Blower.  I first met Karen in a virtual sense on Twitter as we both had a love of Alfie Boe and also both blogged about music; Karen is also a huge Il Divo fan.  Karen first became aware of Alfie via the Royal Variety performance that featured him as part of the Les Mis medley and of course, since then, Alfie has graced that stage twice more.  Here are Karen’s choices:

Of course, Bring Him Home, from a few years ago and in Karen’s words, “enough said”.  No further reasons needed!

Tell Me It’s Not True, from the Together Again tour.  Karen chose this because “Blood Brothers is a favourite musical of mine and Alfie’s version of the iconic song is amazing, especially when sang with Michael Ball”.

It’s Over, from the Storyteller days.  Karen says that “I grew up listening to Roy Orbison and Alfie is one of only a few singers who can do proper justice to his songs”. Yes indeed, and I still love have a chuckle that Alfie opened his set with a song called It’s Over!

Over The Hills and Far Away, at the Festival of Remembrance in 2011.  This one gives Karen goosebumps – and I’m sure she’s not the only one!

Forever Young, again at the Festival of Remembrance, this time in 2013.  Alfie has of course appeared twice more in recent years, being, in Huw Edwards’ words, “a great friend of the festival”.  As with the previous choice, Forever Young is just beautiful and gives Karen goosebumps.

Finally, Love Reign O’er Me from Classic Quadrophenia, this time from the Together tour 2016.  Karen acknowledges that this is a popular song by saying “again, yes I know but the emotion and power he puts into this, how can you not put it on the list?”  Quite – it was on my list!

Thanks Karen for sharing your six songs with us – yet again, two new songs to add to the list!

If you would like to share your six favourite Alfie songs with us, please fill in the form below.

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Alfie Boe’s Best Live Song 2017: No. 4

Alfie and Michael entered the UK album chart at number one! An amazing achievement for the pair and also for all of you for going out and buying it in your thousands – the most albums bought by one person (that I saw) was ten!  Anyone bought more than that?

Ball and Boe’s first album, Together, also re-entered the album chart at number 36 which is perfectly timed for this week’s Alfie Boe Best Live Song which comes from that album:

You’ll Never Walk Alone at Eastnor Castle was nominated by Pauline Merrick and was the encore performance for both the 2017 summer concerts and the 2016 Together tour.  The song was chosen in part as a tribute to the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster and the song was received incredibly emotionally when sung in Liverpool.  Alfie and Michael also performed this at the 2016 Festival of Remembrance.

Despite it’s undoubted footballing connotations in the UK, the song is of course originally from the 1945 musical, Carousel, which Alfie appeared in earlier this year.  However, Alfie’s character, Billy Bigelow doesn’t get to sing this song and it was a pleasure to hear Brenda Edwards’ Nettie sing it in the ENO production.

You’ll Never Walk Alone has been recorded many times but for us in the UK, the most famous version is that of Gerry and the Pacemakers from 1963:

Although it was the Together version that was nominated, I couldn’t resist including a video of Alfie singing this at the VE Day celebrations in 2015, as it was the first time he sang this for a long time:

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Alfie Boe’s Best Live Song 2017: No. 5

Half way through our hunt to find our favourite live Alfie Boe song and we come to another new entry into the top ten although Forever Young has featured quite heavily in the annual Alfie Boe Best Recorded Song poll.  The live version from the US Memorial Day concert 2016 was nominated by Sheila Currie who also chose it amongst her six sensational songs.

The song was written by Bob Dylan, an Alfie favourite, for his son and the lyrics are just beautiful, working so well for remembrance events.  In recent years Alfie has indeed performed this song twice at US and UK remembrance concerts so we have to go back to 2013 to hear the version that appears on Alfie’s album Trust:

Just love Alfie’s intro to this song – however many times you hear this anecdote, it’s still great!

Trust is available here:

Alfie’s new album, Together Again, with Michael Ball has just been released and is available here:

If you want to win a signed copy – make sure you’re subscribed to this blog to be in with a chance!  You also get four Alfie photos to download!

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Alfie Boe 4th Annual Best Ever Song: No. 7

This week sees the first of our two entries from Trust and is the third appearance in the Best Alfie Boe song top ten for Forever Young:

This was of course Alfie’s appearance at the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance in 2013 – introduced by presenter Huw Edwards as a “great friend of the festival”, Alfie has appeared numerous times, including last year with Michael Ball.

Forever Young first appeared in the top ten in 2015 at number nine, slipped back to number ten last year and now records it’s highest position – perhaps it will be even higher next year?

Alfie loves the writer of this song, Bob Dylan, but regular readers will know that he does absolutely nothing for me – I’m a lost cause I think!  It’s not the song, it’s the voice, so here is a version I liked more:

Yet another song I have had the pleasure of discovering thanks to Alfie – my musical education has gone in some unexpected directions in the last five years!

Trust is available here:

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2017 Alfie Boe quiz: Answers!

Last week I asked you a few questions about Alfie Boe in 2016 – how did you get on?  Remember, you’re playing for pride, not prizes!

Q:  With which product did Alfie make his TV commercial debut in 2016?

A: Fisherman’s Friend – the ad is now playing again on UK TV.

Q: At which football team’s ground did Alfie sing the National Anthem in 2016?

A: His home town of Fleetwood.

Q: How many dates were there on the 2016 Together tour?

A: 29 – Blackpool was the 29th, added during the first Blackpool date.

Q: Name Alfie’s three opera heroes from the Spring radio 2 show.

A: Enrico Caruso, Maria Callas and Mario Lanza.

Q: What was special about 12th November 2016?

A: Alfie was in two places at once – or, to be accurate, he was on TV at the Festival of Remembrance, recorded earlier that evening, and live at the London Palladium.

Q: Which actress and singer featured as a guest artist on Ball and Boe: One Night Only?

A: Maria Friedman, singing a brilliant Being Alive / Chitty Chitty Bang Bang mash up.

Q: Alfie will play which role in Carousel in 2017?

A: Billy Bigelow.

Q: Katherine Jenkins will play Julie Jordan; where will she sing with Alfie before that?

A: Dubai at the White Nights festival.

Q: Which song was voted the fans favourite in 2016?

A: Love Reign O’er Me:

Q: Which two songs featured in Alfie’s solo section of the Together tour?

A: Keep Me In Your Heart and Love Reign O’er Me (no prizes for guessing why I chose this video!):

Thanks to Linda W for sharing.

How did you all get on? Ten out of ten for everyone, right?

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Alfie Boe Michael Ball: Loose Women

Closer and closer to the Ball and Boe Together tour and album release and those TV appearances are starting to be announced.  Keep your eyes peeled for more to be announced but in the meantime, I’m happy to be able to tell you that Alfie and Michael have been confirmed for Loose Women on Friday 11 November.

Shall we look back at a memorable moment from one of Alfie’s previous Loose Women appearances, where he made quite an impact on Colleen!

Would you believe this was ten years ago, ten years today in fact!

In case you missed it, Alfie and Michael were interviewed on BBC Radio Nottingham last week and Michael mentioned their forthcoming appearance at the Festival of Remembrance on 12 November…which will be a busy day for them seeing as they’re also at the London Palladium that evening.  Taxi bikes have been mentioned as a mode of transport!  Although there are limited numbers of tickets to the matinee of the festival, these sold out in September, way before any acts were announced.

I can also confirm that Alfie and Michael are scheduled to be interviewed on Steve Wright’s BBC Radio 2 show on Monday 7 November although I understand that this date might be fluid.  Keep an eye on Upcoming Events as all alterations and new dates will be posted here as soon as I’m able to announce.

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It’s Strictly for Alfie Boe and Michael Ball

I’m sure no one is surprised to hear that Alfie and Michael will be appearing on Strictly Come Dancing’s results show this year!  The date is confirmed as Sunday 9th October (not sure if this will be musicals week?) which means that fans will have a double helping of Alfie and Michael that day – Songs of Praise Big Sing will be shown earlier that day.

To celebrate, let’s take a look back at Alfie’s previous performances on Strictly:

There are lots more TV appearances to be announced  – so make sure you’re subscribed to get the information sent to your inbox just as soon as I can tell you about them!

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March Album of the Month: Onward – Alfie Boe

Hot on the heels of February’s Alfie Boe Album of the Month, Love Was A Dream, we come to the featured album for March, Onward.

Onward, released in 2007 was Alfie’s first album with EMI and the track list reflects the religious theme that the label wanted Alfie to record.  Reading his autobiography, My Story, Alfie had definite ideas about the arias that he wanted to sing (Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Creation, Verdi’s Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Mozart’s Requiem) but EMI instead chose the populist route of Lord is My Shepherd, Amazing Grace etc. These are beautifully sung by Alfie but I think the label really missed a trick in not going with Alfie’s choices.  Having said that, Onward was nominated for Best Album at the Classical Brit Awards so what do I know?  The following clip is from Songs of Praise, I Wonder As I Wander, one of a couple of Christmas tracks on the album:

From the recent thoughtsofjustafan survey, Onward is one of the less well owned albums (72% of respondents own it) and this could well be that some fans are not religiously inclined and do not want to buy an album of (mainly) hymns.  Alternatively, it could be that it dates from Alfie’s pre Les Mis days and is therefore less well known.  Again, having said that, most of the songs here (click here for the complete track list) also appear on Alfie’s later You’ll Never Walk Alone which recently came back into the Classical Top Ten and stayed there for several weeks.

To those who are in the former category, I would say that you definitely do not have to be religious to appreciate the beauty of Onward.  Alfie’s voice soars over each song and as with most of his music, I struggle to think of anyone else singing them now.  As a man of faith, I think he brings something extra to this album for that reason – it was interesting that he chose Be Still, My Soul as his faith song on Good Morning Sunday in 2014.  It clearly means a lot to him.  He also sang this particular hymn on Songs of Praise, The Big Sing in 2012:

In my view, the most successful tracks are Britten’s Balulalow, Rossini’s Cujus Animam and the sheer beauty of Alison Krauss’s A Living Prayer which opens the album.  For different reasons, all three tracks showcase the depth and strength of Alfie’s voice as well as his classical training and technique.  In his book, Alfie says that he would like to re-record A Living Prayer as he felt they couldn’t do it justice due to time constraints during recording; wouldn’t it also be lovely if he also revisited Cujus Animam?

Although from reading Alfie’s story you might think that this is Alfie’s least favourite album (or at least least professionally satisfying), the material is amongst some of his most regularly performed repertoire from his early recording career.  That is probably because of the religious nature of the tracks and Alfie has appeared at a fair amount of concerts  and TV programmes with a religious feel; The MoTab Christmas Concert, Songs of Praise and The Festival of Remembrance spring to mind.

I find that I don’t listen to Onward as much as I do other Alfie albums although I do find that as each of Alfie’s albums has it’s own voice, there is often a space in my life that Onward fits into perfectly.  If peace and solace is what you need, Onward is a pretty good place to start. Click on the image below to order:

Alfie onward

Alfie’s autobiography, My Story, is also available:

alfie autobio


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