Royal Festival Hall

All posts tagged Royal Festival Hall

I imagine quite a few of you are saying “of course we should” in answer to this question – well, I think we would all like to dance with Mr B – but in this instance I’m talking about dancing at an Alfie concert.  Alfie is well known for urging audiences to stand up and dance at concerts but what is the right thing to do if you want to dance and no one else does?  If you are on the front row and dancing, how does that affect others behind you?  Alternatively, if you have paid a lot of money to sit on the front row, how do you feel if a lot of people come and stand in front of you for half the concert?  I’m not sure I have the answers to these conundrums but here we go anyway.

In his recent UK tour, Alfie several times, at a certain point in the show, asked us all to dance.  We were left in no doubt that he wanted us to dance as he urged us to “get up, on your feet, that means stand up”! Now I didn’t need much encouragement to get up and dance but in some cases it can be a bit awkward if you stand up and look around and….you are the only one standing!  Particularly if you are near the front – it takes a bit of nerve to keep on standing when all around are sitting and looking a bit disapproving.  I’ll admit, at some shows I was a bit like a yo-yo!

Of the shows I attended on this most recent tour, the best dancing crowd was at the O2 in London; being halfway back on the arena floor I was well placed to see that a lot of the audience was up and dancing for most of the show after Alfie had asked us to dance.  However, the next night, and last night of the tour, Cardiff, was a totally different kettle of fish.  Although the audience responded well when Alfie first asked us to dance it was short lived as most sat down immediately after that song (Volare, I think) and the majority didn’t get up again.  They made up for this by being the best singing crowd – Wales really is a nation of fabulous singers.

So, when I asked you all for your comments on this contentious subject, the main response was that if Alfie asks, then you should definitely dance if you are able.  Having said that, a fair amount of people did raise the point about the possibly blocked view of those behind you – some respondents had been stuck behind a lot of standing people and ended up seeing not much at all.  Fans unable to stand / dance are more likely than others to face this problem.  They don’t want to spoil the enjoyment of others but they do want to be able to see Alfie too.

And there we have the conundrum: how to enjoy yourself and dance whilst not spoiling the enjoyment of others.  Even after researching this post and talking to lots of fellow fans I still don’t have the definitive answer.  I love to dance at a concert so if appropriate I will do so although I’d like to think I wasn’t spoiling it for anyone else at the same time.  I suppose the only way to ensure that is to get everyone else to stand up at the same time – answers on a postcard please as to how we can do that!  Perhaps it would help if we were allowed to dance in the aisles or at the front, something that happened at a few venues on the Storyteller tour but not this time around.  Then again…what about that question I posed at the top, what if you had a front row ticket and everyone came and stood in front of you? You might still have a good view being at the front but then again…and there we are going round in circles again.  Did I mention I don’t have the answers????!!!! We will probably have this discussion for as long as Alfie urges his audiences to get up and dance so feel free to add your thought to the comments box.

One reason for dancing, given time and time again, is that Alfie so clearly appreciates and loves seeing his fans dancing and having a good time.  I have to agree with this – in London, he was thrilled to see a group of fans standing and dancing through the Quadrophenia songs in the encore.  Additionally, where possible, he gets fans on stage to dance with him (this happened in Bournemouth) and at the Huawei Winter Concert at the Royal Festival Hall in December 2013 he pulled a girl out of the stalls to dance on stage with him as she was almost the only one dancing.  The main set finished with almost half the audience on stage (thanks Linda for sharing):

Glory Glory Hallelujah, from Trust was only heard a handful of times on Alfie’s recent tour but it was certainly the song that got people to their feet…mostly!  When I first heard the song, I was dancing round the kitchen to it and every time I’ve heard it since I have to dance so no way was I sitting down on the tour!  It’s a song I just HAVE to dance to, and I know I’m not alone in that opinion!

Alfie Boe’s 2013 album Trust is available now:

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Rosie, the Number 7 song in the Top Ten and the highest placed song from Trust, is credited on the album as a traditional American song and is co-arranged by Alfie himself.  Song archivist Alan Lomax came across the song in 1947 at the Mississippi State Penitentiary’s Parchman work camp and went on to record a group of prisoners at one of the 15 work camps in existence at the time.  Remarkably, youtube has a clip of this:

Chain gang music is not necessarily about the literal interpretation of the lyrics; the melody and the opportunity to release aggression are just as important.  Rhythm is especially necessary to help productivity and teamwork in what must have been back breaking physical activity and makes the music of the chain gangs instantly recognisable.

Listening to Alfie’s version (the video below was shared by Annie Lloyd at the Royal Festival Hall in December 2013), the emotional intensity and the rawness of his voice are the things that first hit you.  The rhythm drives the track and the meaning of the lyrics is almost not worth worrying about.  Alfie Boe’s Rosie is an almost visceral song – it grabs you by the throat and forces you to listen.  This is a song in which movement is very much a part of the listening experience.

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Number 8 in the poll is Alfie’s version of the Jacques Brel classic, If You Go Away, or Ne Me Quitte Pas as it was originally.  Recorded in 1959, it has since been translated into English and recorded by a number of artists such as Nina Simone, Shirley Bassey, Dusty Springfield, Frank Sinatra and Tom Jones.  I listened to all these versions and to be honest, they did nothing for me.  Some were downright awful but I suppose that’s just my taste and fans of these artists would say I was biased towards Alfie.  To which I would unequivocally say “yes, I am” – his version is superb!

Alfie sang If You Go Away at the Royal Festival Hall in December 2013, thanks to Linda Wellington for sharing:

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This time last week, I was waking up to the glorious videos of the Seoul concert that Alfie performed in on 15 March.

This week, I wake up to the equally glorious news that Alfie is back in the UK to record a new album! The album is as yet untitled and we don’t know the genre of music (other than it will be GOOD music) but we do know it is due for release in September.  Yet again Alfie will be thrilling us at the end of the year, as the new album is scheduled just a couple of months ahead of the Trust tour. Yippee!

When I first listened to Trust, I couldn’t stop myself dancing to Glory Glory Hallelujah and this is exactly how I feel today – thanks to Linda Wellington for the video:

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