The 2016 Together tour has finished and the rush of anticipation for the next one has already started – anyone excited yet? Before that, we’ve the small matter of a couple of reviews to sort out and here is the first of these and the last of our guest reviewers, Christine Firby who reviewed Sheffield for us.
December 12th and Ball & Boe were back in Sheffield giving a packed City Hall a second helping of their sensational show and me, my first experience of the joy that is the Together tour. Having seen Alfie several times I knew what I’d be getting from him, but Michael was a mystery – this being my first time seeing him live. Turns out he was a magical mystery, a wonderful performer, warm, friendly, cheeky enough to give as good as he gets from Alfie and in possession of a voice that can more than stand it’s ground when paired with Alfie or be stunning on its own as was shown in his show stopping rendition of Gethsemane.From the moment the lights went down and the amazing orchestra began to play Somewhere, there was a buzz of excitement all around and when Alfie and Michael appeared the audience erupted with joy and delight. From this exuberant start the fun and fantastic performances just kept on coming – some late arrivals coming in just after Somewhere were immediately spotted and picked out for good natured ribbing with Alfie stating ” Don’t sit down, we’re finished.” Lessons to be learnt – don’t be late to or go to the loo during an Alfie / Michael gig – you will be spotted and put in your place!The bromance banter and hilarity continued throughout giving a wonderful contrast to the magnificent musical numbers. A particular highlight came just as Alfie was getting on his stool to sing Wonderful World / Over the Rainbow, as he sat down the stool cushion gave a loud squeak like a whoopie cushion, Alfie gave a confused look and then proceeded to bounce up and down with his mic pointed at the seat as it produced more squeaks, he said something like “It’s the stool, not me” to which quick as a flash Michael replied ” I think it’s the curry” – so typical of these two to come down to childish toilet humour – needless to say the audience were in stitches.As for the musical numbers – oh boy can these guys sing!! Every number was a joy to hear and in some cases see too – the soft shoe shuffle to Stairway to Paradise and the Me and My Shadow routine were quite something to behold! From the gentle beauty of Speak Softly Love via Tell Me It’s Not True (so stunning it had me trembling) to Elvis (rocking and Vegas) and the swing of Ain’t That a Kick in the Head and Mack the Knife, there was something to appeal to everyone, and with so many amazingly beautiful performances it’s nearly impossible to pick just one favourite – so I’ve picked three.My musical highlights are, as mentioned earlier, Michael’s show stopping rendition of Gethsemane – if anyone doubts Michael’s ability as a singer / performer they need to see this and they will change their mind – vocally and emotionally powerful to the point that Michael was visibly drained at the end this performance truly showed how talented Michael is, especially coming as it did straight after Alfie’s tour de force performance of Love Reign O’er Me – my second musical highlight. Powerful and emotionally charged as only Alfie can make this song whenever he performs it, this time was extra special with Alfie’s soaring vocals perfectly matched to the heartbreaking Quadrophenia video on the backdrop and Murray Gould’s outstanding guitar solo – a perfect spinetingling storm of a performance. Finally mention must be made of the Bond Medley. Ball & Boe were made to record a Bond theme and this proves it – a stunning combination of Michael channelling his inner Shirley Bassey and Alfie’s finesse and sheer vocal skill – holding the last note of Thunderball for what seemed like forever, much to Michael’s awe and approval – judging by the smile he gave.Needless to say there was also plenty of audience participation from the full on singalong and dancing of Keep Me in Your Heart (well done to the men in the women vs men warm up – they were rather good!) to the arm waving of Love Changes Everything and my turn as Fleece model!!! Can’t believe I was the one asked by Alfie to stand up, put my fleece on and turn around so everyone in the audience could see it and that I actually did it!!! (if anyone recorded this I’d love a copy) and of course the amazing encore of You’ll Never Walk Alone with everyone standing, joining in with full voice and phone torches twinkling in the air – a beautiful end to a beautiful, emotional and stunning evening of entertainment finished perfectly by getting a wave back from Alfie and Michael as their tour bus pulled away from the stage door and we hardy fans who had waited waved them off.It was a spellbinding night and hopefully we will hear more musical magic from Alfie and Michael very soon as this fantastic collaboration deserves to run and run.