La Passione

All posts tagged La Passione

As the weather grows ever more Autumnal, it’s another great excuse to stay indoors and watch Alfie on YouTube.  To aid you in this, here is another instalment of Six Sensational Songs and this time, they are from Marie Blair, who first got to know Alfie when he did the Les Mis 25th Anniversary Concert at the O2.

Some Enchanted Evening, chosen by Marie because “…it was the song he sang at STV when I met him for the first time on 28 January 2011. It is from the musical South Pacific. In a recent documentary to celebrate his 70th birthday, Andrew Lloyd Webber said that it is the greatest song ever written for a musical.”

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. Marie says “I met Alfie for the second time in September 2011 in Dundee at the Last Night of the Proms. He sang The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. It was and remains the best live performance he has done of that song in my opinion. I think it is mesmerising. It is such a beautiful love song.” Sorry I couldn’t find video of the right performance Marie!

Run, by now needing no introduction.  Marie’s reasons for choosing this are that “I think the performance at VE Day was just wonderful. I often watch it on YouTube and I love the way he acknowledges Murray on stage. I loved Leona Lewis’s version of this song but prefer Alfie’s. I really hope he records it.” And so say all of us, regarding the recording Marie!

The official video for If You Go Away, from Trust.  Marie loves this song and also the video, having watched it loads of times – I’m sure you’re not alone in that!

Billy Joel’s Always a Woman to Me was a bonus track on Storyteller – and is kindly shared here by Marcia, along with photos of Alfie and Sarah.*

Marie says “My sixth choice, Parlami D’Amore Mariu, was written in 1932 for the singer Vittorio de Sica and means Tell Me About Love Mariu. It is exquisitely sung by Alfie and remains one of my favourites. I do wish Alfie would sing more Italian songs and opera arias in particular.”  Knowing Alfie’s views on music and his wide ranging repertoire, I wouldn’t be surprised if this again happens in the future.

Thanks Marie for sharing your songs with us – two new ones added to the list!

If you would like to choose and share your six songs with us, please fill in the form:

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Alfie Boe’s one off show on the Isle of Man was this week and regular reviewer, Cecelia Powell, was there for us.

On Tuesday 6th November some good pals and I trampled through lashing, windswept rain in Douglas, Isle of Man to the Villa Marina hall in all its Edwardian grandeur for what was billed as ‘An Evening with Alfie Boe’. Half the fun of an Alfie concert is meeting up with old friends and making new. Once you’re hit by the Alfie bug, you never know where he’s going to take you – musically, or for that matter, geographically! There were fewer familiar faces and the audience was predominately Manx residents, but there was a real buzz in the air. With a new album coming out, none of us was sure exactly what was to come.

The audience was warmed up by the talented Lauren Samuels, who treated us to musical theatre songs and the music of Burt Bacharach, ending her set with, what else, Bacharach’s Alfie.  After the break, four men walked on stage: Ross (the brilliant pianist who accompanied Alfie on his recent radio tour), Pete (the wonderful Australian guitarist who joined Alfie’s band for the summer concerts), Murray, (Alfie’s MD whom we’ve all learned to know and love) and the man himself. That was it. No backing singers, no horns, no drums. So from the beginning we knew we this was going to be a different performance to what we’ve been used to of late. Just four superbly talented men seated on a stage in a darkened concert hall. Dressed semi-casually in black trousers and jacket, with a white shirt hanging out and a pair of clunky boots, Alfie almost immediately asked for some lights to be turned on in the hall so that he could see the audience. And so the concert began.

First came a few of the new New Orleans jazz songs that have been trickling out from the new album: Sing, Sing, Sing, followed by Minnie the Moocher and Stompin at the Savoy, ending with The Way You Look Tonight. But these weren’t the big production numbers that we’ve been hearing from the album. The whole feel was much more intimate, much more inclined to draw you into the feel of that smoky jazz club where the music was originally heard. For these numbers, and throughout, Alfie contributed to the musical arrangements with a tambourine. People weren’t up dancing in the aisles, but feet were tapping, hands were clapping and the focus was entirely on the man and his music. The diamond in his pocket, Bring him Home, had to come, but he preceded it with a few cheeky bars from Master of the House because there had to be a bit of banter – like the fact that he’d dressed up as Jean Valjean for Halloween wearing his jacket from Les Mis, and everyone thought he was The Greatest Showman!

A short break for people to get drinks and refreshments was followed by a selection of Neapolitan tunes. The sublime Parlalmi D’Amore Mariu from La Passione was followed by Serenata’s Mama, Volare and Mambo Italiano, and he left the stage to Buona Sera, which left us feeling like we’d all been kissed. There was banter, there was audience participation, but it was more the feel of being at a private party than at a concert.

Another short break, and we were treated to a folk/country section. First, Keep Me in Your Heart in the heart-wrenching way it’s sung on the album. But, of course, there had to be some audience participation on those Sha La La Las. When it came time to get the men to sing, and a voice cried out “Bring it on!” Alfie had the perfect foil. Little did Alfie know that Lester was a music teacher, and he not only joined in with the singing but belted out an accompaniment on the piano! Tom Petty’s evocative Wildflower came next, and then The Old Crow Medicine’s Show’s Wagon Wheel. Now this is a number that really allows his accompanists to shine, but there was ample time throughout the evening to let the musicians showcase their talents with fabulous guitar riffs and almost ragtime piano solos. This was topped off by a version of Guns & Roses’ Sweet Child of Mine. Not a rock star version, but one that was packed with so much raw emotion and longing it left me breathless. The Together albums that he recorded with Michael weren’t to be forgotten, of course. First Hero and A Thousand Years, and then He Lives in You, Pete joining in brilliantly on the vocals. The set ended with Run, for which Alfie called Lauren Samuels back on stage to join him. And then came the encore of Elton John’s Rocket Man. An extraordinary performance that took me up to the stars.

Over the course of the evening, there was plenty of interaction with the audience in his own inimitable northern style, including comments aimed directly at Manx residents that drew much laughter. My favourite was a story of his visit to the island as a ten-year-old lad on a school camping trip, on which the nuns kept the children in order by relaying tales of the “Moddey Dhoo”, a phantom dog said to haunt Peel Castle. And there was a collection taken up at the end of the evening for a hospice on the island, of which he is an ambassador and had visited that morning.

The man can sing absolutely anything so, unlike most performers, he attracts fans with very disparate tastes in music. Luckily for me, I love the man in all his musical guises. He can be any of them, or all of them. For me it’s all about the voice and where that voice takes me, and believe me I travelled a lot of miles that night! For this one night, we were treated to something that I found very, very special, and who knows if it will ever be repeated. Most of the songs were entirely delivered seated. There was power, but it was controlled. There was no razzle dazzle, no gimmicks, no distractions. The songs were stripped down to the bone. I heard things in familiar songs that I’ve never heard before and, as always, they were sung note perfect. It was like having a private gig with the man. I was sitting in packed concert hall, but it felt like he was singing directly to me. This really was Alfie unplugged, and for me the evening was magical. I was wrapped up in a musical bubble and floated out of the hall. In fact, I don’t think I’m still quite down on terra firma yet. For me, this concert was billed exactly right. We were treated to an evening with Alfie Boe, and I feel blessed to have been there.

What a fabulous review Cecelia and I’m sure I speak for many fans when I say that I wish I had been there.

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Almost time for the new album – who’s getting excited about As Time Goes By?  I imagine one or two of the songs will feature in the list of Alfie Boe’s Best Ever Song 2019 but before we get to that, here is another one in the occasional series of our Six Sensational Songs.  This time it’s the turn of Betty May to tell us her choices.

Dimming of the Day, from Trust – with a great Tom Jones anecdote at the beginning of this clip from Cardiff.

Bring Him Home, this time from Fleetwood, bringing the number of times this song has featured in this series to ten.

The ever popular live song, Run.

A throwback to La Passione with Parlami D’Amore Mariu at Leeds 2015 – note the short hair in preparation for Les Mis on Broadway!

Come What May with West End star Kerry Ellis.

Tell Me It’s Not True, from Blood Brothers – all the way back in 2012!

Thanks Betty for sharing your six songs with us.

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It’s been a very busy time for Alfie fans until recently and we haven’t had time to feature many fan stories, so this post sees more from our occasional series, Six Sensational Songs.

Today’s choices come from Chris Coats, who first saw him singing Stranger in Paradise on TV and thought “wow, what a voice.”  These are Chris’s songs:

You Are My Heart’s Delight, chosen by Chris as it reminds her of her grandparents, who loved Richard Tauber.  The same reason goes for Girls Were Made to Love and Kiss, from the same Lehar album, Love Was A Dream.  Sadly I can’t find a video of this but Soundcloud is the next best thing:

Core ‘ngrato, from Alfie’s first album, Classic FM Presents, was Chris’s mum’s favourite song and “had to be on the list”.

As I mentioned in the introduction, Chris first saw Alfie on this very TV appearance and it makes the list because it was the first time she heard THAT voice.

Mattinata, from La Passione, because “it’s such a lovely tune.”

The last of Chris’s six songs is from Serenata, Non Ti Scordar Ti Me and once again, I can’t find a video!

Yet again, I’m astounded that four new tracks have been added to our choice of six sensational songs, this time, very much in Alfie’s classical repertoire.

If you would like to see your choices featured, please fill in the form:

Finally, if you haven’t yet seen the news, Alfie will be switching on the Blackpool Illuminations on 31 August!

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Hot on the heels of Scarborough, Alfie Boe took his short summer tour to Llangollen, opening the annual Eistedfodd.  Roberta Kappus and Annie Lloyd were there for us.

In brief, Llangollen was brilliant! It was the fifth and final summer concert and Alfie saved the best for last. We had songs from Alfie’s new album, songs from La Passione and Serenata, songs from Classic Quad, songs from the Together albums and a lot of cheering when England beat Colombia plus a few bars from We’re Coming Home.  Following the win Alfie was so elated he pronounced Llangollen the best gig ever and more than enthusiastically went into his next song, You’re The Voice, which had been interrupted by the win. Showing his ability to follow football while delivering a masterful performance Alfie did not miss one word or note,  turning on a stage monitor showing the game and then with no hesitation going right into Swing.

The set list was a partial departure from the previous four shows. Taking the audience and the ambience of the festival into consideration he enthralled all with Bring Him Home followed by seven Italian songs, primarily from La Passione and Serenata: A Vuchella featuring Pete on guitar, Parlami D’amore Mariu, Mamma, Chitarra Romana, Volare with the usual very long note, Mambo Italiano and Buona Sera. The audience was up and dancing, clapping to the music and singing along especially with Volare and Mambo Italiano. During this segment Alfie stated that he had found new ways to sing some of the songs and if we send back our old cds he would re-record them for us. Of course he got a laugh.

The second half began with the usual audience involvement in Keep Me in Your Heart. Sir Terry Waite, seated in the centre of the front row was given the honour of being singled out as the male soloist, a role he graciously accepted to cheers from all.  Tom Petty’s Wild Flowers, first sung at Scarborough remained on the list as did many of the familiar songs.  I’m One took the place of The Real Me. The show ended with a very powerful Love Reign O’er Me which received and deserved a standing ovation.  Alfie quickly followed this up by returning for the encore and asking if we wanted another Who song. The approval was thunderous with people shouting out various Who songs. Alfie went with Baba O’Riley which was greeted with massive approval. The final song was, of course, Run.

The band was outstanding. They very smoothly transitioned from New Orleans jazz as Alfie calls it to the soothing rhythms of the Italian songs to the country music to the Who. They were just brilliant. Throughout it all the audience was in complete approval of everything sung. It is interesting to note that given Llangollen’s reputation, Bring Him Home received a partial standing ovation while all were on their feet to applaud Love Reign O’er Me. There is no doubt that the audience adored Alfie right from the beginning and were with him all the way through. Alfie was obviously having a great time despite the heat. The tent was very warm and the stage even warmer. Alfie went from jacket to just shirt at the beginning of the second half to pulling his shirt out towards the end. Following the final bows Alfie appeared reluctant to leave the stage wandering around a bit before finally exiting.

Together Alfie and the Llangollen audience proved that music has no boundaries. As Alfie said “it is the same notes in different order”. An evening to be treasured and remembered.

Thank you so much Roberta and Annie – let’s hope we see this repertoire at some point in the future!

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With ten weeks to go until the start of Alfie Boe and Michael Ball’s Together Again tour, it’s time to count down Alfie’s ten best live songs, as voted for by you in 2017.  There are a few new entrants to the top ten and one or two surprises but the first in our countdown is O Sole Mio / It’s Now or Never from the Diamond Jubilee concert in 2012:

For many years, O Sole Mio would have been a song extremely well known to Alfie and he was still performing it well into 2012, albeit with a bit of Elvis thrown in.  Here’s the master himself:

A different arrangement of It’s Now or Never featured on the Storyteller album but was never performed live.  This song has long been a favourite with fans and cemented this with an appearance at number nine in the 2016 Best Live Song poll.  It has also been chosen twice in our semi regular Six Sensational Songs series.

O Sole Mio was written in 1898 and has been recorded and performed by huge numbers of people, making it one of the most famous Neapolitan songs around.  Alfie himself sang it on his 2007 album La Passione although that hasn’t stopped him having to explain that it’s not about ice cream to UK audiences – for those of you outside our sunny shores, the tune of O Sole Mio was the theme of Cornetto ice cream TV adverts for a ten year period in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Sorry – I just couldn’t resist putting it in!

O Sole Mio is available on La Passione:

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The first song in the 2017 countdown takes us back to the earlier part of Alfie’s career, with the only representative from La Passione to make the list, Parlami D’amore Mariu:

This song featured in the first Best Ever Alfie Boe Song poll and came in there at number six – since then it hasn’t featured at all, possibly as we have seen a distinct move away from Alfie’s classical repertoire in the three poll since then.

Written for a film soundtrack, Gli Uomini Che MascalzoniParlami D’amore Mariu was written in 1932 by Cesare Andrea Bixio and Ennio Neri for the voice of Vittorio De Sica and translated, means “Tell Me That You Love Me”.  The original sounds like a film soundtrack but the most well know version is of course in the neapolitan style here sung by Giuseppe Di Stefano:

There are many other artists I could have chosen, including recently, Jonas Kauffman, but I chose this one as Alfie has previously mentioned Di Stefano as a favourite artist to listen to.

If you don’t yet have La Passione in your collection, it’s available here:

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Voting has now closed in the 2017 Best Ever Alfie Boe song poll and the following playlist contains the top ten:

 

In 2016, the top ten looked like this:

1 – Love Reign O’er Me
2 – Dimming of the Day
3 – Trust
4 – Bring Him Home
5 – First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
6 – My Heart is Yours
7 – It’s Over
8 – A Living Prayer
9 – If You Go Away
10 – Forever Young

The first thing that strikes me about this year’s list is that there is only one song from Alfie’s most successful commercial album, Together – whether this has anything to do with it not being a solo album, I couldn’t say.

In contrast to previous years, Bring Him Home is now the only song to feature in every top ten, with just two more songs featuring in two top ten countdowns.  In addition to Anthem, there are two more new entries in Wheels of a Dream and In My Daughter’s Eyes.  This means that for the first time, A Living Prayer drops out of the top ten.

Last year we saw a definite move away from Alfie’s classical repertoire towards the rockier albums and 2017 continues in the same vein, albeit this time we are seeing a resurgence in the musical theatre songs.  I can definitely see the influence of Together in these choices – it seems that hearing Alfie sing a lot of musical theatre songs in recent months, as well as his appearance in Carousel has prompted more votes for this genre of music.  Trust remains the strongest album over all the polls so far, with Alfie having two tracks and one each for Bring Him Home, Classic Quadrophenia, Storyteller, Serenata, Together and La Passione.

Stay tuned for next week’s reveal of number 10 – we’ll be counting down until the beginning of the summer tour!

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O Sole Mio / Now or Never in Swindon on the Bring Him Home tour:

Seems a long time ago now doesn’t it?  Of course it is now five years since we saw Alfie do so many solo tour dates.  It’s been a while since I’ve sat and watched this combination of O Sole Mio and Now or Never and I’d forgotten how effective it was.  Lots of you haven’t though as it featured in the top ten of last year’s Best Alfie Boe Live Song.

O Sole Mio was written in 1898 and has been recorded and performed by huge numbers of people, making it one of the most famous Neapolitan songs around.  Alfie himself sang it on his 2007 album La Passione although that hasn’t stopped him having to explain that it’s not about ice cream to UK audiences.  For those of you outside our sunny shores, the tune of O Sole Mio was the theme of Cornetto ice cream TV adverts for a ten year period in the 1970’s and 1980’s.  It’s certainly where I remember it from originally.

La Passione is available here:

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Alright, alright, it’s actually International Happiness Day but I got the title idea from my 9yo who looked at the 2015 Happy International Day of Happiness Alfie Boe Fans and said “it’s not really Happy Alfie Boe Day is it”?  We don’t exactly see eye to eye on our musical tastes although he has been known to sing along to Alfie songs before and even uttered the immortal line (on hearing Elvis sing If I Can Dream) “this is Alfie’s song, why is Elvis singing it”.

To celebrate, these are some of my favourite Alfie tracks from each of his albums:

E Lucevan Le Stelle (Classic FM Presents) – video from first series of BBC Maestro

The song recently voted the favourite Alfie Boe recorded song, A Living Prayer (Onward) – from Songs of Praise

Funiculi Funicula (La Passione) – this was a hard choice as I could easily have chosen the whole album!

On The Street Where You Live (Bring Him Home) – from QVC, picked because my son’s choir used to sing this:

In My Daughter’s Eyes (Alfie) – for all parents and children everywhere:

Angie (Storyteller)- loved the original, this is better:

My all time favourite Alfie song (so far) is Keep Me In Your Heart (Trust) – something to do with those buttons…

Addio Sogni di Gloria (Serenata) was my favourite in the Serenata review and it hasn’t changed:

The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that Love Was A Dream is missing – as far as I’m aware we don’t have video of Alfie singing my favourite song from that album.  Maybe one day…

What are your songs from all Alfie’s albums?  Let us know below:

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