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Stairway to Paradise at the Palladium with Alfie and Michael

Hot on the heels of my review of Saturday Night at the London Palladium is my first guest reviewer, Cecelia’s post about Sunday night which she has dubbed Stairway to Paradise!

What a weekend it has been, starting with the arrival of our favourite roving New Yorker Roberta on Friday, ending up by chance in the same row as our favourite blogger at the Palladium on Saturday, and then returning last night for another slice of Malfie magic.  Trust me, from Michael’s opening notes offstage in Somewhere to those last combined, oh-so-stirring notes of You’ll Never Walk Alone, you’re under the spell of two consummate performers.  So often, seeing performers live can be a disappointment as the vocals fail to equal the recording.  With Alfie and Michael. it’s the other way around.  These two were meant to be on stage.
I thought Saturday night was fabulous and half the fun was meeting up with so many friends from far and wide.  But do you know what?  Last night was even better.  The boys seemed somehow more relaxed and playful, maybe because they hadn’t had a mad motorcycle ride across town.  Michael is sublime and Alfie is, for me, the voice that reaches the part that other singers don’t even begin to reach.  Together, these two really are a divine double act.
Highlights: Definitely Alfie’s Love Reign O’er Me.  It gave me chills when I first heard it sung on the Serenata tour and I get a tingle every time those opening chords are played.  The pianist was superb and I adored the fact that Murray was there to accompny Alfie with those masterful guitar riffs.  Having spoken to Murray the night of Classic Quadrophenia’s premiere, I know he was blown away by the music and Alfie’s performance so I’m so glad he got to be a part of this tour.  Another highlight was the power of Michael’s Gethsemane.  I wasn’t expecting that and found it extraordinarily powerful and moving.   Yet another highlight was Alfie forgetting the words to For Once In My Life early on because he was buy waving to people and he lost it completely when Michael helped him mount his stool for the beautiful What A Wonderful World / Over the Rainbow blend – it’s been such a while since I’ve heard that childlike Alfie giggle ring out.  It brought back find memories.  Of course, he got it under control and more than did justice to the songs…eventually!  And yes, there was even one mad Alfie dash when he leapt from the stage and ran around the stalls.
I’ve got to say I’m a sucker for Alfie the rock star, which I missed a bit on this tour so That’s Alright Mama was an absolute joy.  The Bond medley too was extraordinary and I thought that whoever worked out the staging did a great job.  The cleverness of the back projection throughout was stunning and the lighting shooting out over the stage on the beat as the Bond medley began perfectly captured the mood and set the scene for those oh so powerful songs.  The real surprise for me was how much I adored the swing section, which allowed the personalities of these two great buddies to shine.  Alfie and Michael perfectly captured the spirit of a bygone age, and they had such fun doing so. I didn’t want Me and My Shadow to end. Loved the choreography. So I guess I’m a sucker for a bit of soft shoe, too.  And then there was the Les Mis medley.  No words.
I feel privileged to have been able to have shared such a magical night, to have climbed that Stairway to Paradise and been swept away by the Music of the Night.  If you’ve caught the tour already, you know what I’m talking about.  If you are yet to go, I have a feeling these shows will only get better.  And if you can’t attend, you’ve got a TV special to look forward to in December.  Having thoroughly mixed my metaphors, I can’t help wondering where the Alfie train will be taking us next.  All I can say is, wherever it stops I’ll look for you at the station – because I haven’t been disappointed since I got on board.
Fantastically evocative review Cecelia – thank you so much for being my first guest reviewer!
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Alfie Boe’s Intimate Belfast Set – A Review

So, hot on the heels of the Alfie Boe Favourite Tour poll, Alfie this week started his mini UK summer tour 2015.  Or to be more precise, the first big show is planned for tomorrow evening at Hampton Court and the two concerts earlier this week were something  a bit more special.  Monday and Tuesday this week saw Alfie play two intimate concerts at the Culloden Estate and Spa, Northern Ireland and luckily thoughtsofjustafan had a willing reporter on hand to tell us how the two evenings went.  Here is Carole’s guest review of the two concerts:

“An intimate dinner & show with Alfie Boe” is what it said on the front of the menus for our pre-concert meal and that is certainly what we got. In anticipation of this Alfie experience we thought that it may be a little different and a bit special but the reality was quite simply magical. Our Boe odyssey to Belfast took us away for three days so that we could attend both nights.

Before the main man appeared we had a 30 minute performance by the Belfast Community Gospel Choir who were wonderful and got everyone in the party mood, you could tell they were as excited to be there as we were! The stage was very small and just a foot or so high so we knew we were in for a very up close and personal experience indeed. The band was the same as on the Serenata tour – Murray, Richard, Dan, Matt and John (aka Tonksy!) . Bit of déjà vu crept in as Alfie appeared to huge applause and launched into A Marachiare, Parliami d’Amore Mariu, Buona Sera, Volare and Mambo Italiano. The musical theatre section was Come What May, Wheels of a Dream and finally Bring Him Home.  Tuesday’s rendition was extra special as Alfie sang to Mark and Declan McMullan:

On Monday night someone had requested he sing Georgia, he got the first line or two out then dried up – cue giggles and a couple of unrepeatable words – he said he’d go back to it and would sing it all the way through before the night was out.  He did manage to get through it after somebody brought him out a laptop with the words googled, it was put on the floor so he got down on all fours to see a bit closer, then of course half way through the screen blacked out! Funny funny.

It was a thrill to hear two new songs from Quadrophenia, Sea & Sand and Drowned although on Tuesday he changed these to I’m One and Love Reign O’er Me. I am reliably informed that the band are working really hard on getting as big a sound as possible for some of these songs, particularly the Quad numbers, and somehow they are doing an amazing job recreating those big thumping orchestral accompaniments like the kettle drums on Love Reign. 

It was a joy to hear Run and the audience were in great singalong voice, I think this may become a staple of his upcoming summer dates.   On Tuesday members of the Gospel Choir came back on towards the end and accompanied him, really recreating that amazing moment at the VE Day concert.  The video shows the amazing crowd reaction:

On Monday night I thought I was going to burst when he launched into Don’t Stop Me Now as his encore (yayyy!!).  and he ended with Suspicious Minds (double yayy!!). His final parting gift to Belfast was a perfect acapella rendition of Danny Boy.

Most of the people we met were from Ireland and although they were fans many had never seen him live and never one to disappoint he gave them the full Boe treatment – ringing phones, chasing after loo-break escapees, selfies on stage with the band and it went down an absolute storm. One gentleman right at the front nipped out (never a good move at an Alfie concert especially if you’re sat under his nose) and while he was gone Alfie took his chair up on stage and rifled through his jacket to check for valuables all whilst continuing to sing. Cue confused man upon his return with nowhere to sit! At the end of Come What May, which is always a belter of a tune and done with such passion, he said it’s amazing what goes through his mind when he’s singing and all he could see were the cakes on one of the tables in front him (the mini muffins mentioned earlier!) so he jumped off the stage, picked up the plate and passed them round to the band, although he did managed to drop his on the floor! He was just introducing lovely Murray to everyone and a lady way at the back laughed out loud, so she was hauled up to the front and was sat on a chair right in front of Murray so she could watch and appreciate him while he played the next number. Lucky lady, poor Murray! A phone rang from behind the bar which was way over the back of the room and by then had closed, so he flew off the stage to try and answer it but didn’t make it in time!

Thank you to Carole for an amazing review; I hope she’ll do a few more for us!

The next concert review will be from Hampton Court – hope to see a few of you there.

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