Into the last week of the Alfie Boe Michael Ball Together tour 2016 and Hammersmith was last night’s destination. Another full house was out in force, amongst them Sir Cameron Mackintosh who proved game for anything when picked upon to sing during Alfie’s singalong Keep Me In Your Heart, and actor Con O’Neill, star of the original Blood Brothers.
After seeing the show on three previous occasions I knew the set list and some of the set piece comedy moments, some of which have developed during the tour itself (Dec and Ant anyone?) but the highlight of the first half was the lady who modelled her newly bought fleece, ably assisted, or should I say forced (?) by Alfie. This very enterprising fan then rushed to help Alfie back onto the stage – lucky her! Further on, Alfie’s difficulty in getting onto his stool before What A Wonderful World was solved, not by Michael’s helping hand but by a helpful fan shouting out that she “can help you, Alfie” – needless to say, Alfie hopped up on that stool in no time at all!
In my previous reviews, my favourite songs (apart from Keep Me In Your Heart obviously) have been A Thousand Years, which according to Michael last night is in the “twilight zone” and Speak Softly Love. Having heard both these songs again, they’re still my favourites although the swing section, particularly Alfie’s Kick in the Head is fast growing on me.
For Alfie’s solo section, the addition of film footage of the end of the Quadrophenia film as a backdrop considerably added to the power of Alfie’s Love Reign O’er Me, although I’m conflicted as to whether I liked it or not. To me, it was a distraction – Alfie’s voice is powerful enough not to warrant it. Having said that, I wasn’t sitting in the centre this time so perhaps if I had been, the film would have been right in front of me, thus creating even more drama.
Those of you who were at the Palladium on 12 November or read the review will be aware that Rick Astley joined Alfie and Michael on stage to sing Just Keep Singing – well, he was back in Hammersmith too! They sang the same song which was amazing (the style suits Alfie to a tee, reminded me of his 2013 album, Trust) and then Rick presented Alfie and Michael with a pair of gold discs for Together. They were completely bowled over by this and clearly not expecting anything of the sort.
Overall, another fabulous evening in the company of Messrs Ball and Boe – roll on the TV special this evening!
If you would like to send Alfie and Michael a message about the tour, to be given to them in a card next week, click here.
Another Saturday night, another city, this time Sheffield, another concert and another guest review, this time from Joan Rowe.
What more is there to say about this wonderful pair which has not already been said? I have been privileged to see Alfie and Michael once each before but nothing could prepare you for what we experienced at the Sheffield City Hall last night – my ears are still ringing! There was less banter I think than clips of other concerts I have seen but that may be because this was a slightly different audience and if I may use the term the venue is a little more intimate having only 2000 seats.
We were amazed at the power of Alfie’s voice singing Love Reign O’er Me and then on to the absolute sweetness of Bring Him Home. We were then hurled into the seduction of Michael and the anguish of Gethsemane.
These two gentleman have such a rapport between them it comes across beautifully. Alfie and Michael made it to the stage door but only briefly; Michael explaining they had a long journey to Bournemouth. I will leave the last word to Michael: Alfie has a voice that would make angels weep. Every one of us last night would agree.
We can never get enough of Alfie singing Bring Him Home and to hear Michael singing Empty Chairs is an experience everyone should enjoy so thanks to Linda W for sharing:
Thanks Joan for that review.
If you would like to send a message to Alfie and Michael to be given in a card at the end of the tour, click here!
The Together tour last night stopped in Newcastle and our guest reviewer, Barbara Wren was there for us. These are her thoughts on the evening.
From emotion and romance to rock and legendary numbers, Together has it all and last night was no different. Alfie and Michael were absolutely wonderful. From the very first note of Somewhere to the last note of You’ll Never Walk Alone the audience was enthralled.
With no absentees from the audience to tease there was little chance for the guys to play and extract ‘the Michael’ and the stage was very much too high to try jumping off, but the banter and fun they have become famous for just rolled on, much to the audiences delight. This also gave Alfie the chance to respond to Bradley Walsh’s banter on yesterday’s This Morning programme. Balls and Boetox anyone? I am sure Alfie loves the part of the naughty boy that Michael keeps in check, as in Me and My Shadow, though last night Alfie had trouble focusing as Michael happily tried to distract him. All good fun.
When it comes to the music, what can I say? I think we are running out of complementary adjectives and superlatives. Alfie and Michael are really at the top of their game and demonstrating it in every way, both in harmony and their individual performances – wow! Together their harmonies complement each other wonderfully, my favourites, being Incurably Romantic, Tell me it’s not True and the Rat Pack medley. The audience was alive with delight at Alfie’s version of Mr Presley’s That’s Alright Mama and completely with Michael as he swung his hips to Just can’t help Believing. Along with the Rat Pack numbers this is different for Alfie, but delivered with style and originality. Michael gave an enormous performance of Mack the Knife and Alfie’s Ain’t That a Kick in the Head was brilliant. And what about the dancing? Watch out Alfie…Strictly will be recruiting in the new year!
Where else can I go? From the drama of John Barry’s Bond arrangements to the passion of the unique arrangement by Claude-Michel Schoenberg of Les Miserables and the legendary Phantom of the Opera,Tell me it’s not True from Blood Brothers and A Thousand Years from Twilight, magnificent memorable performances by Michael of Gethsemane from Jesus Christ Super Star and Alfie’s Love Reign O’er Me. It is a privilege to experience such power and emotion as the full extent of their voices touch everyone .
It was a fabulous evening and I can’t leave out compliments to the National Symphony Orchestra, Murray Gould , Sam Richardson, Neil Angilley and the ladies in the backing group – they were magnificent. Together with Michael and Alfie they really made the sum of the parts add up to be greater than the whole. A truly professional and entertaining show which left everyone feeling good.
This tour just keeps on giving. The other key ingredient is the sincere friendship and respect between Michael and Alfie along with the fun and mischief they are getting up too. I was lucky enough to meet them before the show at the meet and greet. The rapport between them is palpable and lovely to see. Whilst waiting to meet them, which was organised in an orderly fashion it occurred to me that it was like waiting to see Santa Claus. When I said this to them, Michael offered to sit me on his knee, but I hate to tell him that all I want in my Christmas stocking is Alfie! As an avid people watcher I was fascinated by the audience getting to know each other and who was a fan of Alfie or Michael. One thing is for sure, by the end of the evening there was a huge cross over taking place with many Michael fans totally head over heels for Alfie and Alfie’s fans the same with Michael; little surprise that our fan club numbers are increasing rapidly. I heard a few people singing or humming the tunes of a few songs on way back to their cars, a sure sign of a good show.
Altogether a wonderful show that has given so much to so many. Hopefully we will see Together Again in the not too distant future.
What a fabulous review Barbara – thank you!
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Wednesday night in Blackpool was followed by Friday night in Manchester and luckily, our New York roving reporter, Roberta Kappus was in Manchester and has just sent her guest review. This is Roberta’s second visit of this tour and she must be a strong claimant to the title of fan who has travelled the most miles on multiple trips to see Alfie. The fan who has travelled the furthest will always be Margie who has twice flown from Australia to see Alfie in concert…rumour has it she’s thinking about visiting again for Carousel. Hope so Margie! How fitting that these two fans (and I’m proud to say, friends as well) first featured on thoughtsofjustafan over three years ago, when I wrote about Alfie’s Fan Family.
What can one say about a show (Together) and two men (Alfie Boe and Michael Ball) about whom so much has been written already. Sixteen shows (out of thirty) later the magic, the vitality and the electricity is stronger than ever.
As in all the venues to date, after the brief Somewhere intro the two came bounding down the stairs to very enthusiastic applause and shouts. They had barely started Tonight when the audience joined right in with everyone feeling that this was no ordinary night. The singing was outstanding as always. It amazes me that these two singers are so extraordinarily brilliant venue after venue.
The evening had its comedic aspects, highlighted by a trip to the loo by Matt, a guest in a front row seat. Alfie was quick to spot him, pointing him out to Michael and the rest of the audience. Michael demanded to know why Matt had not gone before the show. Matt’s reply was lost to audience laughter but from that point on it was obvious the show was not going to continue until Matt returned. Alfie jumped off the stage and took Matt’s seat. Michael followed and the house brought up the lights. Matt finally returned walking casually down the center aisle. At this point Michael had started voicing concern as to how he was going to get back on stage. After several attempts by Alfie to hoist Michael onto the stage several volunteers were recruited from the audience. Michael made it back…Alfie easily lifted himself back onto the stage and the show continued.
As a footnote I would like to mention Keep Me in Your Heart with which everyone is familiar. While you all probably know the audience participation part I don’t remember the orchestra being mentioned. Alfie’s only accompaniment for this song is the piano and MD Murray. The rest of the orchestra is standing, clapping and joining in with the singing. It is a full participation song.
All in all there simply isn’t a better evening’s entertainment. My sincerest thanks to Mr. Alfie Boe and Mr. Michael Ball.
Thanks Roberta – not just for the great review but also for mentioning my favourite song at the end. I agree, it’s so good to see the orchestra up and dancing and playing during Keep Me In Your Heart – they had to be encouraged at Bournemouth but as the tour has gone on, it’s become a part of the show.
This is a bumper week for guest reviews here on thoughtsofjustafan – Nottingham earlier, Manchester and Glasgow to come but before that, Carole Hunt returns with her take on Alfie and Michael at Blackpool.
Blackpool welcomed Fleetwood’s favourite son back home on 23rd amidst an extraordinary outpouring of love and affection on all sides. This particular concert always had the capacity to be rather special and it certainly did not disappoint on any level. The set list has been mentioned in previous reviews so I won’t go through that again in detail but it was certainly an opportunity to observe some of the nuances and other elements of the performance.
Both Michael and Alfie appear to be loving the ‘stool section’ and the swing numbers, which for Alfie fans is something new. He had, yet again, a fit of the giggles before going into What a Wonderful World and a shout out session with Fleetwood FC fans which then turned into Oh I do like to be beside the seaside . He managed to pull it back and sing the correct song but not after several failed attempts. Giggling Alfie is fabulous and his laugh is so infectious. Before he kicks off the Elvis section, it’s as if removing his suit jacket and rolling up his shirt sleeves is the release he needs to unlock those vintage Alfie moves and probably make a few of the uninitiated in the audience sit up and take notice. What an absolute joy to see him having the time of his life performing as the man who has had such an influence in his life.
As the tour rolls on it is obvious that both singers are picking up new fans like the proverbial pied piper and this in part will be down to their two big solo numbers which have clearly been chosen to showcase their individual voices at their very best. Michael’s Gethsemane is a song I have always wanted to hear Alfie throw his colossal pipes at but Mr Ball does a very fine job indeed; it’s a huge sing for anyone and he pulls it off with high emotion and power. I thought the superlatives for Alfie’s Love Reign O’er Me had long since run out and that he couldn’t possibly find anything more to give – wrong. To witness this phenomenon is like being hit by the full force of an unstoppable freight train coming at you head on. Where and how he finds more each time I just do not know, but he does and it has been an utter privilege to see him in full throttle with it once more when perhaps we thought there wouldn’t be room for it on this tour. I love to watch how he goes off somewhere deep into his head with his eyes closed, like he does with Bring Him Home, so that he delivers it with full blown emotional impact and not just stunning vocals. Whilst the piano player was striking thunder into the opening section, Alfie stood at the head of the white grand piano with his hands stretched out on it, head bowed and eyes shut as if he was physically filling himself with the musical vibrations in preparation for the herculean sing ahead of him.
Everyone loves a bit of Bond and the medley is fast becoming one of my favourite parts of the show. The boys look dapper in their black suits and to my mind give Daniel Craig a run for his money. The individual songs run seamlessly together and my only complaint is that the Skyfall section in its current format is wickedly too short. I can only imagine what Alfie could do with it given the notes he hits, a full version would be something astonishing. And as for THAT note at the end of Thunderball….. chills!
The Les Mis medley is a piece of musical genius with each artist performing their most famous songs individually, which is exactly as it should be. Their coming together on I Dreamed a Dream is a surprise at first but is a superb platform to show off the combined force of their voices.
We had more Alfie anecdotes than have been forthcoming in previous concerts. He explained how he and Michael had met during the ill fated Kismet production ten years ago and at one point he had been turning to his soprano to sing Stranger in Paradise and over her shoulder he was greeted with the sight of Mr Ball’s waggling rear end, with his pants around his ankles in an attempt to lighten proceedings. He also mentioned the fact that he used to work at the Opera House but was fired, and the guy who fired him was currently watching in the wings! He said some heartfelt words to the home audience that wherever he is “I will always champion this place, I’ve got my feet firmly on the ground and will never forget where I come from”.
It is clear how much in awe each artist is of the other and this was never proved more so than when, after their final wave to the audience at the top of the staircase, Michael pushed Alfie forward then disappeared out of sight leaving him alone on the stage to soak up the applause and adulation. The car mechanic from up the road done good – you’ve come a long way Mr Boe!
What a fabulous review Carole – love the anecdote about Kismet! Roll on Blackpool 14 December is all I can say!
What exciting news to wake up to this morning – Alfie Boe is to return to London’s ENO for a limited season of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Carousel. In the semi staged show, Alfie will play Billy Bigelow opposite Katherine Jenkins’ Julie Jordan, a casting that reunites them immediately after their one off Dubai Opera appearance on March 30th. The pair have worked together many times previously, including a sublime duet of Barcelona on Katherine’s album, Home Sweet Home.
Carousel is full of iconic songs and Alfie has sung two of them before: You’ll Never Walk Alone is the encore song for the current Together tour as well as featuring on the top ten album of the same name and If I Loved You appears on Bring Him Home:
Carousel is the latest in a line of ENO semi staged musicals to grace the London Coliseum, with Sweeney Todd and Sunset Boulevard gaining rave reviews and sell out audiences (Lonny Price who directed both shows will also direct Carousel). You’ll notice that I haven’t included the ill-fated Kismet – the less said the better! Jenkins will make her stage debut in this production of Carousel and that, coupled with Alfie’s legions of fans is bound to mean that the show will be amongst the most sought after in 2017.
Alfie last appeared at the London Coliseum with ENO in Jonathan Miller’s production of The Mikado back in 2011 and since then his career has taken him in a different direction although he has of course played the lead in two Broadway musical productions in the last year. Will this announcement mean Alfie will take on more roles like this? I can’t wait to find out!
Alfie and Katherine’s Barcelona is available here:
Into the third week of the Alfie Boe Michael Ball Together tour and it’s the turn of our Nottingham guest reviewer, Heather Moore to tell us her thoughts on the tour. Heather has been a Michael Ball fan since she was twelve years old, first having seen him singing One Step Out Of Time at the Eurovision song contest. Three years later, she first saw him live in Passion. Heather found Alfie seven years ago via an early album and the DVD of La Boheme. With all this in mind, it’s fair to say that hopes were high for Heather’s first concert of this tour. This is what she says:
There was a buzz before Alfie and Michael took to the stage; everyone was looking forward to a great night and that’s what this twinkling twosome delivered. Alfie was really bouncing off the audience and the Concert Hall seemed to suit him more than the Nottingham Arena where I had seen his concert two years before. It felt more personal somehow and more interactive with lots of laughs on stage. Alfie even joked with the ushers. Michael was enjoying himself too. The reason we were all there was the music and these gentleman didn’t disappoint. The music choices were super, of course many of the songs from the new album, starting with Somewhere where we were transported into the musical theatre world. I loved A Thousand Years and the Wonderful World and Somewhere Over the Rainbow medley worked very well. The backdrops were fantastic too – the graphics added to the special feeling for the occasion.
I thought Michael and Alfie’s voices blended well together and it didn’t feel like they were competing with each other, instead they complimented each other. I also enjoyed the solo spots. Alfie got all the audience singing along to Keep Me In Your Heart – it was great fun watching Alfie bounce around the stage. Michael used his spot to sing the very powerful Gethsemane and Michael’s story of watching Jesus Christ Superstar as an eleven year old was touching. Of course Michael sang Love Changes Everything and of course the whole audience sang along.
The orchestra and the singers Izzy, Tori and Lauren were great although I would have liked them to have been brought in a bit more on the Les Miserables segment but that’s only a small point. The Les Miserables section got the first standing ovation of the night. I also loved the Elvis and James Bond medleys. Michael singing Skyfall was a highlight for me. The show ended all too soon but that’s what happens when you’re having fun! The closing song was my favourite ever song You’ll Never Walk Alone and as we all stood and clapped and waved to the brilliant pair this was a fantastic end to a fabulous evening.
I have been a fan of these two for a long while and I will continue to follow these talented chaps for I hope many years to come.
Thanks Heather for a great review – here are Alfie and Michael singing Somewhere (thanks Linda W for sharing):
If anyone wants to see Alfie back in his opera days, La Boheme is available here (it’s in English and very accessible so don’t let the thought of opera put you off!):