Storyteller tour

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Ten months into my New Year resolution to listen to more new and varied types of music and I have to admit that for October, I have cheated a bit – the music I’ve chosen this month is not new to me.  However, she’s been out of the limelight for a while and delightfully, I discovered a new EP from her when I researched this piece.

Emilia Mitiku first came to the attention of Alfie Boe fans, myself included, when she supported Alfie on his Storyteller tour in March / April 2013. She was heavily pregnant at the time and this gave way to an unexpectedly hilarious moment when Alfie introduced her, before their duet on Dimming of the Day.  Emilia also duetted with Alfie on Angel from Montgomery on that tour.

This version of Dimming of the Day is my favourite and is often chosen as one of fans’ six sensational songs.  I’m still not sure how I managed to leave it out of mine!

Emilia has released several albums but the one I’m concentrating on, and is probably most familiar to Alfie fans is 2012’s I Belong To You, a collection of what Emilia calls vintage pop.  A mixture of pop, overlaid with jazz and country sounds, the album showcases Emilia’s rich, velvety voice in a number of styles, all of which reflect the jazz, pop and traditional Ethiopian music she grew up with. The first song I ever heard from Emilia reminded me of Dolly Parton:

The subject matter of heartbreak and the country lilt of the music show Emilia’s mastery of styles, especially when compared to the upbeat, sparkling So Wonderful:

One song from this time that didn’t appear on I Belong To You, is Why Is He So Mean?

This was a highlight of Emilia’s live performances in 2013 and quickly became a favourite with the mostly female Alfie Boe audience, as only catchy, rhythmic songs about women surviving relationships can!  It’s impossible to sit still and listen to this – before you know it you’re up and dancing, whilst also singing at the top of your voice.

As I mentioned earlier, I was overjoyed to find new music from Emilia when researching this piece.  Blue, Blue, Blue, a four track EP was released in late 2017 and is pure, vintage Emilia Mitiku, stylistically similar to I Belong To You. Opening with a slow, silky cover of Rihanna’s We Found Love, the EP gets into it’s stride with the title track:

Upbeat, with a catchy hook, this is another song you’ll be quickly singing and dancing along to.  “Blue, blue, blue, that’s what I learnt from you” appears to take up where I Belong To You left off and is all the more welcome for it.  I would be happy if Emilia made this sort of music forever.

When Our Roads Cross and Forgetful Lover hark back to another era of music, reminiscent of Alfie’s forthcoming album, As Time Goes By – I would love to hear Alfie’s voice sing some of Emilia’s songs.  This record is so smooth and silky, it was over far too quickly; I hope 2019 sees more new music from Emilia Mitiku.

Blue, Blue, Blue is available here:

I have one copy of Emilia’s album, I Belong To You, to give away, just answer this question:

Which two songs did Emilia sing with Alfie Boe on his 2013 Storyteller tour?

Competition will close at Midnight on 7 November 2018 – good luck!

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Into August and the countdown to the 2018 Blackpool Illumination Switch On is under way – anyone going to see Alfie switch on?

In the meantime, let’s take a look at Janice Stark’s song selection.  Janice first saw Alfie on the Royal Variety Show 2010), bought the 25th Anniversary DVD has bought all his CD’s and DVD’s ever since. Janice says “I think I really prefer his opera renditions but the more modern songs have grown on me so tried to get a mix in my choice of six!”

Danny Boy, from Trust.

Dimming of the Day, Trust.

The Floral Dance at Children In Need Rocks for Sir Terry.

If I Can Dream, Storyteller.

Patiently Smiling, Love Was A Dream.

The Pearl Fishers Duet, with Bryn Terfel – Janice chose this or Nessun Dorma as her sixth song, so I chose this as it hasn’t been chosen before.

Another three new tracks have been added to our list – at this rate, we’ll eventually have every single song from Alfie!

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

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The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore on the Alan Titchmarsh show:

This song wasn’t performed an awful lot outside of the Storyteller tour so it’s lovely to hear it here.  Just last week it was chosen as one of Deanna Lintern’s Six Sensational Songs.

Written by Bob Gaudio and Bob Crowe (Four Seasons) and recorded by Franki Valli, this original version was released and pretty much sank without trace, being totally eclipsed by the Walker Brothers version which was a smash hit:

The song has been recorded by Keane and Cher over the years and has also been used many times for TV and film, although the one that stands out head and shoulders for me is Truly Madly Deeply with Juliet Stevenson and Alan Rickman (forgive the voiceover, it’s a trailer!):

Don’t forget to tune into ITV1 on Saturday 3rd at 7pm for Saturday Night Takeaway where Alfie and Michael will perform on the End of the Show show!

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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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Most fans of Alfie Boe and Michael Ball have been keen to see the pair tour again since the end of the last tour in December 2016 and I am no exception.  After reading Carole Hunt’s wonderful review of the opening night, Cardiff, I was doubly excited to head down to Brighton and I was not disappointed.  Heather Crosskey, a guest reviewer from 2016 was also there and has added her review to mine.

Throughout 2017, in the numerous interviews and promotional appearances, as well as the concerts, it has been clear that Alfie and Michael share a very warm bond of friendship and this collaboration has been nothing but good news for them both.  This feeling is very much reflected in the structure and atmosphere of this set list and show – each song chosen shines a perfect spotlight on their voices, combined or solo, whilst also highlighting their friendship and differing personalities.  This change is apparent from the start when Alfie appears in jeans and black shirt (untucked) as opposed to the suit of last year.   However, the glitzy shoes that caused such excitement amongst fans have gone – perhaps they looked good but weren’t comfy?  We’ve all been there Alfie!

Musically, the highlights for me were the duet of Michael’s signature song, Love Changes Everything, Hero (a song I’m warming to each time I hear it), He Lives In You and the Queen medley.  You might think this list isn’t very long and you’d be right – although these were undoubted highlights, they don’t come close to the Les Mis medley, You’re The Voice and the Wham medley.  I can safely die happy now I’ve heard and seen Alfie singing and dancing  the music of Wham, just sensational and I’m a bit hoarse today after singing my heart out to these songs.

Seeing as many fans came to both Michael and Alfie through Les Mis, the pair have kept a medley in the set list but it’s much different than last year.  Backing singers, Ulrika, Tor and Emma do a phenomenal job on At The End Of The Day before Alfie and Michael return with I Dreamed A Dream and a new addition, Master of the House.  As with the  summer concerts, the medley ends with One Day More but in between, we see two solo spots: Michael’s beautiful rendition of Stars and Alfie’s Bring Him Home.  I am extremely lucky to have heard Alfie sing his signature song on numerous occasions and although I love it, there are other songs I love more.  Last night, however, and perhaps because I haven’t heard him sing the entire song for a couple of years, Alfie sang so movingly he brought me to tears for the second time, the first being He Lives In You.

Although all the songs I have mentioned were special, for me, the icing on the cake (or doughnuts, I heard they like doughnuts?!) was Alfie’s two solo numbers.  Both new for the tour and in those moments, as well as Queen and Wham, I felt I was truly seeing Alfie at his happiest and best.  For those who saw the Storyteller tour, it was akin to that.  Tiny Dancer was extraordinary but Wagon Wheel was just joyous:

It was also fantastic to see Alfie putting himself out there with a guitar – and doesn’t he play well these days?

Overall, it was a totally joyful experience and left the audience feeling on cloud ninety nine – love, love, loved it!  And now over to Heather:

There is a sense of brotherhood between these two giants of the music industry. Their voices blend together, there’s no competition between them. Neither man trying to take the spotlight, and gives a wonderful, relaxed feeling to the
proceedings. The choice of songs is inspired – audience participation is guaranteed and encouraged. There are songs from the new album, a song from Hamilton, and songs from other West End hit shows.

Love Changes Everything, sung as a duet, was moving and earned the guys a standing ovation. Having only heard it sung by Michael in the past, the addition of Alfie’s voice and harmonies took an already beautiful song to an entirely new dimension.  We were treated to a bit of soft shoe shuffle as Michael and Alfie performed Bring Me Sunshine – the song they sang at the Royal Variety Performance. Michael and Alfie each had a solo slot – we saw Michael relive his time in Hairspray with You Can’t Stop the Beat and then slow everything down with The Impossible Dream, which felt really emotional.  A medley of songs by Queen was great fun and again had the audience joining in. The evening ended with the most beautiful arrangement of The Prayer, sung in both English and Italian – I’m not ashamed to say it reduced me to tears. Then, just as we all thought it was time to go home, a final medley, this time of Wham songs had us all dancing, clapping and singing. A wonderful finale to an awesome evening.

If you’ve got a ticket to the Together Again 2017 tour then you’re in for a treat – it’s fabulous!

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The third song in our third Best Alfie Boe Live Song poll is a song that has featured in both previous polls, albeit it has slipped slightly further down the chart this year to number eight.  The song has consistently featured in the top ten of our annual best recorded song poll as well and has also been picked twice as part of our six sensational songs series.  I’m talking about Rank Strangers:

This was the first time that Alfie sang this song and is mostly widely requested during polls, as is Alfie singing it on the Storyteller tour:

Both these version are very different from the recorded version which was famously done in one take!

Rank Strangers was written by Albert Brumley, a musician and singer born in Oklahoma in 1905.  After studying at the Hartford Musical Institute, Arkansas,  Brumley toured with the Hartford Quartet and went on to write / copyright an astonishing 800 songs.  The most famous of these is I’ll Fly Away from 1932.  In 1970 he was inducted into the Country Song Writer’s Hall of Fame and his songs have been covered by amongst others, Bob Dylan, who I’m sure introduced Alfie to the song.

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As August winds to a close and Classic Quadrophenia in USA gets closer (less than a week!), it’s time for another look at your favourite Alfie Boe songs.  This week it’s the turn of Helen Linden, who first heard Alfie sing in 2010 at the Les Miserables 25th anniversary concert. Helen says “I’d never even heard of Alfie Boe up to this point – it was my then sixteen year old daughter who persuaded me to go with her to see Marius as she was a massive Nick Jonas fan.  That’s when I discovered Alfie and have been a fan ever since.

These are Helen’s six sensational songs:

Caruso, chosen “because I love the tone of Alfie’s voice for this dramatic song. It’s a powerful melody and how Alfie manages to fit in all the words, I’ll never know! It was a favourite of my Dad’s when Pavarotti used to sing it but I think Alfie does it better.”

Chitarra Romana, added to Helen’s list of favourites when Alfie performed it at the MEN arena in Manchester. It was just a joy to hear Alfie singing this upbeat song on the sofa with Murray and the rest of the band.

The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face, chosen because it’s one of Helen’s favourite songs and “when I heard Alfie singing the first line….followed by ‘I was sick’, I just roared with laughter. It took Alfie a while to get back ‘n the zone’ but love how he doesn’t take himself too seriously.”  I couldn’t find that particular video so I included another where he was clearly enjoying himself with a laugh.

Volare, chosen because “I just love this song and Alfie’s interaction with the audience during this one. I even brought Castanets to play during one of the shows!”

Love Reign O’er Me, from Classic Quad.  As Helen says, “not an easy song to sing but Alfie just nails it. And that last note. Well, what can I say?”  Having written about this song for to years now, I agree that there aren’t enough superlatives to do justice to Alfie’s voice on this song and indeed the whole album.

The song that started it all for Helen: “I first heard Alfie sing this back in 2010 at the O2 for the Les Miserables 25th anniversary concert. I’d never even heard of Alfie Boe up to this point.  But I was hooked, just like so many others after hearing Alfie Bring Him Home. It’s my favourite favourite Alfie song and I never get tired of hearing him sing it.”

Love Reign O’er Me and Bring Him Home now tie with A Living Prayer as the most chosen songs for your choice of Alfie Boe’s Six Sensational Songs and nice to see three new songs in this series.  Thanks Helen for sharing your songs with us.  If you would like to share your six sensational songs with us, please fill in the form:

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The latest in our series of Alfie Boe sensational songs comes from Lee Kelly.  Lee first became aware of Alfie shortly after the 25th anniversary Les Mis concert and was spellbound.  She’s since been lucky enough to see him live a few times and met him in New York on 28 February last year. In her words, she was a “quivering wreck”! These are Lee’s choices:

Trust, chosen simply because Lee loves the album.

Wayfaring Stranger – love the fun Alfie’s having in this video!  Lee chose this song because of the “haunting words”.

Tell Me It’s Not True, chosen as “Blood Brothers is my husband’s favourite musical and hearing Alfie sing Tell Me It’s Not True is wonderful”,

Run – Lee chose this as she has “always liked this song and Alfie takes it to another level”.

Bring Him Home, chosen as Lee says “Alfie makes every hair stand on end every time I hear him sing this” – I think we all agree!

Rank Stranger

Thanks for sharing your favourite songs with us Lee.

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

The summer tour is over but no need to cry because we are in the rather unusual position of having lots to look forward to!  Performances in three countries, a new album, we’re in danger of being rather spoilt in the latter half of 2017.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at six more sensational songs, this time from Karen Rogers.  I first met Karen, very briefly, at a Storyteller album signing in London’s Oxford Street and since then we have run into each other at several concerts, culminating in a memorable evening in Bournemouth last year.  Ball and Boe were the warm up act for an absolutely hilarious evening with our Boe Buddies – how many Alfie Boe fans can you get into a single hotel room was the name of the game!  Here are Karen’s six songs:

A Living Prayer, which appears in this series for the fourth time now.  Karen says “I’m not religious in any shape or form but absolutely love this song. The words, even as a non believer are so very beautiful. The video that accompanies the song is lovely too and adds to the emotion.”

Bring Him Home at the 25th anniversary concert.  Karen says that she chose it because “as Alfie’s signature song how could I not include it? However the reason I chose it was because of the memories it evokes. I never thought I would get to see Alfie, live, in Les Miserables but when he announced he would be reprising the role in New York I knew I had to get there. I went with the lovely Carole Hunt and we saw him 4 times. Each time was as special as the first. The picture in my head of him sat at the barricade with Marius at his side asleep as he sings it brings tears to my mind every time. Very special times.”  We don’t have footage of his stage appearances so I chose this video as the next best thing.

Doctor Jimmy, from Classic Quadrophenia – what a fabulous evening that was.  Karen says “I absolutely love this song for the totally shallow reason that Alfie says the f’ word!!! I know its awful to admit but I do. The raw emotion as he swears is amazing. As the wife of a Who fan who was totally bowled over by Alfie’s performance at the RAH I cannot put into words how special it all was.”

Run – Karen’s choice because “it’s a fabulous song with wonderful words but given the Alfie Boe treatment becomes an all time great anthem.”

It’s Only Love – another song that gets me up and dancing every time!  Karen chose it as she “absolutely adored Alfie on the Storyteller Tour. It is as a Rock God that I adore him the most.His performance of the song as he charged from side of the stage to the other, jumping on the speakers in those tight jeans was sublime.”

O Sole Mio / Now or Never at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  Karen says “again it shows his versatility as he goes from classic to rock and roll. The highlight for me of the Queens Jubilee. Rocking out in his tight black jeans (I do love him in tight jeans!) and lovely black shirt. Doing what no one expected him to do and bringing the house down in the process. Fantastic!”

Thanks Karen for six very different choices – I love seeing the songs people choose and the reasons why.

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Just two songs left on this year’s Best Ever Alfie Boe Song countdown which means that there’s less than two weeks until Alfie starts his Summer Together tour with Michael Ball.  If you haven’t got tickets yet, click here.  I’m once again looking for guest reviewers so make sure you read to the end!

Song number two is a song that has featured twice before, in 2014 and 2015 and is this year’s only representative from Storyteller.  Rank Strangers is an American folk song from the early twentieth century which Alfie first sang on his Bring Him Home tour of 2012 and then recorded for Storyteller that same year.  Here is Alfie’s acoustic version from the Storyteller tour:

Rank Strangers was written by Albert Brumley, a musician and singer born in Oklahoma in 1905.  After studying at the Hartford Musical Institute, Arkansas,  Brumley toured with the Hartford Quartet and went on to write / copyright an astonishing 800 songs.  The most famous of these is I’ll Fly Away from 1932.  In 1970 he was inducted into the Country Song Writer’s Hall of Fame and his songs have been covered by amongst others, Bob Dylan, who I’m sure introduced Alfie to the song:

Alfie, I hope you know that this is true dedication on my part, to feature, yet again, Bob Dylan’s vocals on this blog!

Stay tuned next week for the reveal of the fans’ Favourite Song 2017!

With the summer tour so close, I’m looking for guest reviewers again – I need reviewers for all the shows except Greenwich so if you want to have a go, send a sample of a short review of either a concert or album via this form:

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