The countdown to the summer concerts continues and we are now at number six. So far, so good but this week there’s a difference: two songs tied for sixth! The first is a song that has featured in all the previous Best Live Song polls and was first seen in 2012 on Alfie’s Bring Him Home tour:
The song 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.
The second song is a new entry and featured on Ball and Boe’s 2016 chart topper, Together (46 seconds in is the best bit of this video):
The song is of course A Thousand Years, one of my favourite songs from both the Together tours and album. Written for the soundtrack of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1, the song was written by Christina Perri and David Hodges and recorded by Perri. Released in 2011, the song has charted three times, eventually reaching number 13.
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The latest in Alfie’s Six Sensational Songs features Janet Baldwin who first found Alfie on Classic FM. Janet says that “even then his wonderful voice stopped me dead in my tracks on my way out to work! I actually saw him for the first time on TV on the Classic Brits … and the rest, as they say, is history.”
Here are Janet’s choices:
When You Wish Upon A Star, chosen by Janet because “Alfie’s version of this song helped me back into the real world after a serious illness”,
Torna A Surriento, from Alfie’s appearance at the Michael Ball Prom, Michael gives him a rather long intro and the song starts at 1 min 25. Janet says that “Spent a happy holiday in Sorrento following in Alfie’s footsteps doing our own La Passione tour, visiting the Amalfi coast.”
Be Still My Soul. Janet says that this has always been a favourite hymn but “Alfie makes it special”.
In My Daughter’s Eyes – Janet chose this simply because she loves the song – the perfect reason!
Funiculi Funicula, with the Leigh Orpheus Male Voice Choir (one of my favourite videos, In always sing along, or attempt to anyway!) – Janet chose this as she used to enjoy singing this with her local operatic society.
A Thousand Years at Scarborough this summer. Janet says that this “brings back special memories of a rainy night in Scarborough! Looking forward to reuniting with my ‘Boe Buddies’ in December”.
Thanks Janet for sharing your songs with us – again, such a variety of songs represented, with four of Janet’s choices not having been chosen before.
If you would like to see your Six Sensational Songs featured here, then please fill in the form:
We may only be in September but the countdown to Alfie Boe and Michael Ball starts here! Alfie has Classic Quad and the pair go to Australia in a month, not to mention the promotion of the album but Ball and Boe Together 2017 starts in three months!
To while away the time before then, let’s go back to a good old poll – this time to decide on the 2017 fans favourite live song from Alfie. Nominations are now closed.
Here are last year’s choices to help you choose (they aren’t in the right order):
Voting will commence in two weeks and number ten will be revealed the week after after that.
Alfie Boe and Michael Ball last night bid farewell to their very own summer of love at the first night of the 2017 Greenwich Music Festival and as with the other dates, held the audience in the palms of their hands. The title of this piece is Summer of Love and it’s been a joy to see so much love surrounding this tour of outdoor venues; love for Alfie and Michael from fans and on social media, love from Alfie and Michael for the fans and also the almost epic scale bromance between the two. This may be the first show of this tour that I’ve seen but I’m sure that Alfie and Michael have not missed any opportunity to spread the love and gratitude to fans and each other for the absolutely fantastic year they’ve had.
Although Greenwich was my only show of this tour, I’m so glad that I was able to be there for the last one – last nights are very special and I wasn’t disappointed. How could I be when my favourite song, Keep Me In Your Heart (come on, you know my favourite line by now!) was included, along with last year’s Best Alfie Boe Live Song, Run. Of the rest of the changes, I was most impressed by Luck Be A Lady (from one of my favourite old style musicals) and of course the addition of One Day More to the end of the Les Mis medley – just when you think Alfie can’t get any better, he does. At this rate, I’ll need to research lots more superlatives with which to describe Alfie’s voice – for now, I’ll just say that for me, he was perfection last night.
The song that surprised me the most was the encore of You’ll Never Walk Alone which I have never really felt an emotional connection to. Last night though, the theme of unity and standing strong through adversity spoke to me and the tears came. Michael had earlier spoken very movingly about the troubled times we find ourselves in and it strikes me that You’ll Never Walk Alone is the perfect song to reflect our unity and strength – none of us have perfect lives, after all, despite what we say on social media!
Earlier in the day, Alfie and Michael had presented an award at the 02 Silver Clefs in aid of Nordoff Robbins and Alfie, an ambassador for the charity, spoke a few words during his solo slot about their work – click here to find out more about music therapy from Nordoff Robbins.
Now if all this sounds somewhat sombre, the concert did contain the usual amount of humour from these two likely lads, as can be seen from the beginning of A Thousand Years – rear of the year anyone?
Alfie and Michael’s Summer of Love may be over for the time being but it won’t be long until we see them again for Together Again 2017 and before that, Alfie will of course be seen as Jimmy in Classic Quadrophenia(click here for tickets). Until then, we’ll have to be content to send the boys all our love – we’ve loved these two weeks!
Special thanks to Linda Wellington for taking such fabulous videos for us all to share and to my two reviewers, Cecelia and Barbara. And I must give a special mention to the Boe Buddies I had the good fortune to spend the Greenwich concert with, particularly Margie who is here from Australia via Paris.
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Tonight is the last concert of the 2017 Together Tour but before we get to that, Alfie and Michael performed at Scarborough in what a local newspaper called biblical conditions – it was very wet! One of our previous reviewers, Barbara Wren was there:
Singing and dancing in the rain, Alfie and Michael just got on with it and wow, what a concert and evening it was. For me Alfie could sing the phone book and I would be happy, so sitting in the rain was not a problem and clearly I was far from on my own ( I do have to add that there is no one else I would do it for). Bonded together by our love of Alfie and Michael the evening was far from lost and everyone I spoke to absolutely loved the concert, though without doubt one that everyone will never forget.
From the beginning, true professionals Alfie and Michael appeared at the top of the stage at the end of Somewhere with huge smiles and made fun of the driving rain and wind coming at them as they approached the front of the stage. The concert was off to a fabulous start. As the driving rain increased many of the song lyrics took on a whole new meaning. Clearly wishing there was sunshine Over the Rainbow and Tell Me It’s Not True to name two. Alfie certainly warmed things up with That’s Alright Mama and as the Elvis set ended I have no doubt there would be towels at the ready and warm drinks as they left the stage for the interval.
Seated back for the second half after meeting up with Annie Lloyd and Pat Watterson we chatted with water dripping everywhere. The audience were buzzing, some had left but not many, everyone in the front sections were well up for it which was testimony of their loyalty to Alfie and Michael and respect for all the artists on stage who just got on with it. The swing set was fabulous, as the guys looked out at the rain which was getting heavier and sang (also giggling) about the Stairway to Paradise, and cuddled up to keep warm through Me and my Shadow then letting rip with Luck be a Lady and New York, New York to the delight of the audience.
Alfie and Michael’s solo slots took some guts as the rain, now very much heavier was driving towards the stage. Alfie ditched his jacket and gave all he had, working at the front of the stage in the pouring rain as he got the audience to participate in Keep Me in Your Heart which was fabulous, and then leaving us breathless with Run, a song I truly believe, Nobody Does it Better than Alfie. As Alfie retreated to dry off, Michael took over with his always wonderful, sincere and powerful delivery of Gethsemane and Love Changes Everything, to the audience’s delight. The James Bond Set bringing the concert to an end as always was spectacular.
On behalf of all the fans and everyone who attended last nights concert I would like to thank Alfie, Michael, the orchestra, backing singers and the whole crew for pulling off a brilliant concert in such desperate conditions. It was a wonderful evening despite the monsoon engulfing Scarborough.
Thank you Barbara for a wonderful review – although this might be one of the rare occasions when I’m not sure I wanted to be there in the rain and wind!
We’ve done it, we’ve counted down to the 2017 Best Ever Alfie Boe song so let’s take a look at the top ten so far:
10 – Parlami D’amore Mariu
9 – In My Daughter’s Eyes
8 – Wheels of a Dream
7 – Forever Young
6 – Anthem
5 – Addio Sogni Di Gloria
4 – Keep Me In Your Heart
3 – Love Reign O’er Me
2 – Rank Strangers
And so that leaves only one song at the top and it’s no surprise that after two years at number four, Bring Him Home returns to the top:
This was the first time I heard Alfie sing Bring Him Home live.
Bring Him Home, is without question Alfie’s most popular and famous song. The vast majority of fans who have come to know Alfie since 2010 (myself included) have done so through Les Miserables, Jean Val Jean and Bring Him Home – Alfie’s star really was born at the 25th anniversary concert. Everything that has come since started on that day and ensures that Alfie will continue to sing Bring Him Home for as long as the demand is there…forever! Of course the problem with this is I find it really difficult to write anything at all about Bring Him Home. So, instead of my thoughts, let’s go back to what Alfie said about it in his autobiography:
It is such a spiritual song, it’s so special. When Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil wrote it they must have been so excited…It is a prayer, it’s actually called The Prayer, it’s not officially called Bring Him Home and I treat it as such every time I sing it. I pray. That’s what makes it work.
Interestingly, when I interviewed Alfie for the Club 24601 series in 2015, although he mentioned Bring Him Home as being a great song, he actually picked the Soliloquy as the song with the greatest emotional and vocal range.
Thank you for sending in your suggestions and voting – I love seeing the different songs that make it into the top ten each year. Enjoy the summer concerts – click here if you haven’t yet got a ticket.
For one night only, Alfie Boe and Michael Ball played to a US audience in New York City. Our NYC reporter, Roberta Kappus was on hand and kindly sent this review:
After a four and a half month hiatus from the Together tour, Alfie Boe joined Michael Ball last night for the only US performance of this UK sellout show. Alfie’s return to the stage was as though he had never left. It was a show and performance worthy of Broadway. The singing was priceless, the dancing precisely synchronised and the overall evening just amazing.
Alfie’s versatility and talent were on display throughout the show from the opening song of Somewhere to the closing song of New York, New York which was greatly appreciated by the New Yorkers in the audience and by the sound of the applause by many others. In between there was a full array of songs running from the classic Les Mis medley to Elvis Presley’s Suspicious Minds, a personal favourite, to Love Reign O’er Me, another favourite. Two more additions to the UK set list were Anthem and Luck Be A Lady Tonight. All were brilliant additions – if some songs were dropped I could not name them. Through the magic of Alfie’s voice I was just transported from one enthralling song to another during this incredible evening. There were numerous standing ovations, amongst them Anthem, Love Reign O’er Me, and the Les Mis medley.
Throughout the show Alfie was totally relaxed, very comfortable in his role as singer and entertainer and very much enjoying himself. Towards the beginning of Love Reign O’er Me there was a problem with the piano which Alfie noticed instantly. As technicians rushed onto the stage Alfie very comfortably went into several minutes of comedic ad libbing. Alfie was so successful in distracting the audience that several people around me thought it was part of the act. To me it was another example of Alfie’s assurance as an entertainer in capturing and holding the audience’s attention regardless of circumstances.
Anyone who had not previously seen this show would not have noticed that some of the comedic moments had been dropped. However the poor woman leaving for the ladies’ room was spotted and asked why she had not gone before the show by Alfie. Alfie’s trouble mounting the chair and Michael’s assistance in the first act was replaced by Alfie simply sliding off a stool. However Michael’s praise of Alfie had Alfie running back onto the stage to give Michael a big kiss on the cheek to much laughter.
The show took place just 24 hours after the Manchester attack and before the show began, a moment of silence was observed. Another sombre moment was acknowledged during the Bond medley when Sir Roger Moore’s (who passed away yesterday) photo was shown.
It was truly lovely to have Alfie in New York again. He more than lived up to the expectations I had from seeing Together in the UK. I was not alone as the audience showed its appreciation through numerous standing ovations. For me Alfie’s versatility as a singer, actor and entertainer was highlighted by the fact that I had just seen him ten days ago in English National Opera’s Carousel. I am still overwhelmed by the transition I witnessed from Billy Bigelow to Alfie Boe. What an evening to remember. Thank you, Alfie Boe and please come back.
Thank you Roberta for a truly wonderful review – New York, New York was the perfect song to end with.
Together is available here:
Click here to buy tickets for their Summer and Winter UK tour dates.
And so we come to end of another tour and what a tour it was. I’ve said it was a perfect tour and I really think it was; intimate venues interspersed with larger arenas, plenty of dates, laughs a minute, Alfie and Michael solo spots and fabulous, gorgeous vocals from both and last but not least, the chance to spend so much time with so many lovely friends and fellow fans. One of the best nights out in a very long while, Alfie related or not, was the first Bournemouth concert and the seemingly never ending quest to get a drink afterwards – we did manage it you’ll be pleased to hear and it was really lovely to be surrounded by good friends, discussing the important things in life. Namely, Alfie Boe and his music!
This week had Ball and Boe finishing the tour in the way in which they started: with lots of dates together. I was lucky enough to be at the final two shows, Manchester and Blackpool, both second shows at those venues and I honestly think Alfie and Michael saved the best for last. The audiences were brilliant, lots of dancing and singing along when requested and standing ovations galore – the second half seemed to consist of us standing up and down like yoyos on both occasions. In Manchester, there was a definite extra thrill knowing that the concert was being streamed live around the world, with the added bonus of catching up with tweets at the interval from Boe Buddies in Australia and USA amongst others.
Blackpool was always destined to be just that bit extra special, being the end of the tour (the third such date this time around!) and being Alfie’s home ground and so it proved to be. The mutual admiration and friendship between Alfie and Michael that has been apparent all the way through this tour was even more to the fore for this concert and came to a head during the Bond medley, both vying to outdo the other in saying “nobody does it better”, preceded by Alfie’s astonishing end note of Thunderball. In this case, the last line became “strikes like Michael Ball” – brilliant!
Two years ago at the end of the Serenata tour I mentioned that I wasn’t all that keen on Bring Him Home but Alfie’s emotional intensity simply bowled me over. This tour has given me a new way of looking at Alfie’s signature song but it still hadn’t brought me to tears until Blackpool – the Les Mis medley in its entirety was so beautiful, the tears just came. Although, in truth, they had been there for a while at this concert, Keep Me In Your Heart starting them off. Regular readers will be aware that this is my favourite Alfie song but the way it’s been sung on this tour doesn’t lend itself to provoking tears, rather it’s been a joyful, dancing and singing along moment before the heavy emotion and power of Love Reign O’er Me. Blackpool however, was different. Following a heartfelt speech from Alfie about the tour, Alfie launched into an acoustic version of the song with just MD Murray Gould accompanying to start (thanks to Linda W for sharing):
The tears came almost from the beginning and they weren’t far away in Love Reign O’er Me as well. I don’t have any more superlatives left to describe Alfie’s performance of this song so I’ll confine myself to a comment on the backdrop of the original Quadrophenia film. When I saw this in Hammersmith I said that it detracted from the overall effect but that may have been because I was sitting to one side and not front on to Alfie – this time I was practically dead centre to the stage and the film was the perfect accompaniment to the denouement of Alfie’s powerful vocals.
Love Changes Everything was another high spot in the Blackpool show and the tears were there the whole time, mainly because the elderly couple next to me started singing it to each other. I had Michael’s family on the other side of me and we ended both that song and the evening overall linking our waving arms, making it even more sweet.
What will I take away from this tour? Fabulous music and fabulous times with fabulous friends. Thank you to everyone who came and said hello, it was lovely to meet so many readers and fellow fans. Thank you to my guest reviewers: Carole, Roberta, Cecelia, Samantha, Heather Crosskey, Heather Moore, Barbara, Joan and Christine. Thank you also to the people who made it special: Linda A, Linda W, Karen and Richard, Pat, Sue, Carole, Jan, Rachel, Nicola, Jayne, Nikki, Janet, Cecelia, Sally, Paul and Pauline, Jo Cassidy, Roberta, Hannah, Gill, Geri, Linda Evans, Jen and Donna, Liz, Pauline H, Chelley Thompson, Carole and Eric, Annie and Mitsuko. If I’ve missed anyone out, I’m sorry! Super special thanks to Linda A for putting up with me throughout this tour especially when I was having 2017 ticket meltdown in a Manchester hotel room (we get to do it all again next year!!!) – and for giving me one of her meet and greet tickets so I could give Alfie and Michael the tour card from fans and get this photo:
Super special thanks to Linda W and Annie for taking and sharing their videos of the tour too – you can find them on the Together 2016 playlist on Alfie Boe on YouTube.