tour

All posts tagged tour

A classic week for Alfie Boe fans  – the release of Classic Quadrophenia on Monday (Tuesday in the US), lots of reviews and articles online and a healthy dollop of controversy to finish it off!  On top of all that, we have the first dates on his mini UK summer tour to look forward to next week. Oh, and a new poll to find the fans favourite Alfie Boe Tour – keep voting!

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock this week you’ll know that Classic Quadrophenia is not eligible for the official UK classical charts (although it is riding high in the amazon chart).  This doesn’t seem to have hindered sales so far as the official mid week album chart listed CQ at number 23.  Additionally, the album will be eligible for the US billboard classical chart.  Pete Townshend, Alfie and the conductor Robert Ziegler have been very vocal in their indignation about this apparent unfairness and Alfie in particular tweeted this:

Please would you all get behind this campaign and RT to make a change and support our view on Classic Quadrophenia? #WhatQuadifiesClassical

There are reasons for the position of the Official Chart Company (click here) but needless to say most fans don’t agree with them.  Will there be a change in the rules?  Unlikely I would say but you never know!  Besides, with my devil’s advocate blogging head on, it’s all fabulous publicity!

Somewhat lost amongst all the controversy was a lovely interview with Alfie in which he adds to the comments he made in his recent interview with thoughtsofjustafan that singing the role of Jimmy was “trickier than opera”.  In that interview he alluded to the emotional intensity that made it harder but in the Sinfini interview (click here) he goes on to talk about the stamina needed for his voice as the role requires him to sing a lot of notes at the top of his range.  All this controversy about the UK classical charts must be really fuelling Alfie’s preparation for the frustrations  of his character, Jimmy!

We also found a new side to Alfie as a tour guide to Sun Valley, Idaho, in an article in the Telegraph Travel section.  Apparently there are mountain lions and bears but that shouldn’t worry Alfie since he has a copy of The Worst Case Scenario Handbook which details what to do when unexpectedly meeting such creatures – check his instagram for photos!

Lastly, Alfie is scheduled to appear on ITV’s Loose Women next Wednesday 17 June at 12.30pm.

Classic Quadrophenia is available here:

classic quad

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With just a week to go before Alfie’s first date in his mini UK summer tour, excitement is running high.  Add to that, the excitement over the release of Classic Quadrophenia today and we Alfie fans are already super excited that summer is here.

So, what better way to look forward to the live dates than to look back at Alfie’s previous tours and choose a favourite – you guessed it, another poll!  We haven’t had one for a while, indeed the last was the much discussed Alfie’s Best Look poll which ensured some very lively comments!  Thanks to Carole Hunt for the idea for this one.

My favourite tour so far was the Serenata tour of Winter 2014; I felt Alfie’s voice was at his best and the repertoire included songs from his earlier albums that I had never expected to hear him sing live.  Having said that, Storyteller was very hard to beat but they were totally different experiences, reflecting Alfie’s continued musical development. One of my favourite moments was hearing Recondita Armonia and Nessun Dorma for the first time in Newcastle (thanks Linda for sharing):

Whichever is your favourite tour,  get voting below – results published some time over the summer!

I would also like to know your favourite moment from that tour so please fill in the form below:

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Last September, something unique happened in the UK classical album chart: an independent artist went straight to number one!  The album is Dare to Dream and the artist is the People’s Soprano, Rebecca Newman, who has just announced new concert dates (click here, on sale 1 May).   To talk about this and her current tour supporting Russell Watson, I met up with Rebecca before the Richmond tour date.

I started by asking about being an independent artist, as yet unsigned to a major record label.  Is signing to a major in the plan?  Since Dare to Dream hit the top spot in 2014, Rebecca says there has been a lot of industry interest and awareness in her as an artist which will hopefully lead to some fruitful conversations.  Interestingly, it is other, established artists who have so far given the most public support.  Alfie Boe has tweeted his support for Dare to Dream, saying Casta Diva is his favourite track and of course, Russell Watson invited Rebecca to tour with him as his special guest on the current Up Close and Personal Tour.  Should a major record company deal come to pass, a lot of fans will be ready and willing to snap up that album.

Dare to Dream, as well as being the album title, is also one of the original songs co-written by Rebecca and seems to be the perfect song for her at this stage of her career.  In fact, many fans relate to it, saying it means a lot to them, often for very different reasons. For her part, Rebecca says that the song is about the inspiring little moments that happen in your life along the way:

whatever your dream is, own it, love it, follow it

Rebecca certainly seems to be following her own advice here as she has come a very long way in the music industry since she first started busking in York ten years ago.  At first, busking was a means to an end but Rebecca soon found that it was a great way to connect with an audience whilst building a fan base as well as earning money.  In this way, Rebecca has been recording and selling her own music although Dare to Dream was the first album eligible for official chart release.  Street performing is a very pure, honest style of performance and this seems to suit Rebecca, so much so that she says she gets withdrawal symptoms when she doesn’t do it for a while.  She enjoys engaging with fans on such an intimate level which has sometimes meant that she has had to work harder to connect with a larger audience.  Her best advice when faced with a larger audience is to just simply “sing”.  Perform first and chat second, an approach that has worked to her advantage as a special guest to Russell Watson.  I was lucky enough to see Rebecca perform on the Richmond tour date and while a few members of the audience were clearly baffled when she first came on stage, they were very impressed after her first song.  There were audible gasps of appreciation when she then mentioned her number one classical album…all without a major record label behind her.  By the time her part of the show was finished, the audience was won over.  I questioned how street performing would fit in with a more successful, visible music career and Rebecca was quite clear that major success would not stop her performing pop up gigs in any way – let’s hope we get the chance to find out!  A fan’s comment to Rebecca that “you’ve set down deep roots so the wind won’t blow you away” would seem to bear witness that she has a strong and loyal fan base.

As mentioned earlier, Rebecca has recently announced her own concert dates, the first of which is Lichfield Garrick theatre on 16 July 2015 (on sale 1 May) and she is understandably excited about the prospect of being the star attraction.  There are other projects and collaborations to be confirmed and announced and together with an appearance on BBC’s Songs of Praise (recorded but no transmission date yet) this should be an exciting time for fans.  Amongst other things, Dare to Dream will hopefully be re-issued as a single complete with a new video!  Until then, take a look at the current video:

The album is also available on Amazon:

rebecca newman

 

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Back in November 2014 I asked “How Did You Find Alfie Boe” and I’m pleased to say that lots of you responded, being only too pleased to tell me how and when you first heard that beautiful voice.  A few of you have been on board Alfie’s musical train right since the very beginning – and by that I mean since he was singing locally in Lancashire!  One of his many nephews and nieces even filled in the survey although I don’t know which one! One respondent had followed him since he was appearing regularly in opera and another couple since his first album, Classic FM Presents.  Other reasons given were his 2007 appearance on Parkinson, other TV appearances, Desert Island Discs, through friends, surfing youtube, through hearing David Miller of Il Divo talk about Alfie and his performance at the Diamond Jubilee concert in 2012.

However, like most of us Alfie fans these days, the vast majority (82%) of the respondents found Alfie through Les Miserables.  Of those 82%, just over half first saw and heard Alfie on a PBS 25th anniversary promotion and the others saw him either live or on the DVD of that concert.  This is what one smitten fan said

Saw him on PBS in Florida, USA in March 2011 singing Jean Valjean role and stopped in my tracks when hearing that voice. Watched the whole O2 Les Misarables concert and then had to find out who this wonderful tenor is. YouTubed him and listened and read everything I could find on him. The Alfie and Matt Lucas video Nessun Dorma with his hands in his pockets was what clinched him for me. Joined his Facebook page and his own web page and since have met many wonderful fans of his who over the last 3 years have become good friends. All this from that one O2 performance.

After finding out how and when fans found Alfie, I then wanted to find out when they made their first Alfie related purchase, be it  CD, DVD etc.  I admit that I was expecting most responses to be “immediately” or very quickly, given the devotion shown to Alfie by fans.  However, I was slightly surprised to find that although two thirds of responses indicated that a purchase was made either the same day or next day, the next highest response was months, at least 6-12.  In three cases there was a wait of at least a year and one waited for 3.5 years before making up (her?) mind to buy a CD.  Incidentally, the length of time before making a purchase and considering yourself to be “Boed” does not match up; with the exception of the Lancashire locals and the fan waiting 3.5 years, every single respondent considered themselves “Boed” immediately.

The survey then went on to ask which albums fans had in their collection.  For this survey, I only considered Alfie’s albums released under his own name (not including Serenata which was released after the survey) and the collaboration with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Home for the Holidays.  The rest of his recording career can be found on the Alfie Boe Discography.  The results are:

Classic FM Presents – 61% of respondents own this

La Passione – 82%

Onward – 72%

Love Was A Dream – 69%

Bring Him Home – 98%

Alfie – 95%

Storyteller – 95%

Trust – 90%

Home for the Holidays – 37%

As you can see, the most owned albums are the Decca ones released since the Les Mis connection although La Passione is the most popular album of Alfie’s back catalogue.  It occurs to me as I sit writing these results up, that I should have asked in which order these albums were purchased; it would have been interesting to see how many people had La Passione before Les Mis.  I suspect that like me, the answer would be not many,  otherwise Alfie would surely not have contemplated becoming a personal trainer for the SLC police.

DVD ownership is something else again – this time, there were only four choices as only two tours have been filmed:

Les Mis 25th concert – 96% own this

Bring Him Home tour – 83%

Storyteller tour – 75%

Home for the Holidays – 43%

Perhaps the relatively high amount of people owning the DVD of Home for the Holidays reflects the low amount owning it on CD (they don’t see the need to have it twice), otherwise the completely predictable result is that Les Mis is the most owned DVD.  Of course this was expected, given that 82% of us found Alfie that way to start with.  This is also borne out by 66% of those owning it citing it as their favourite of the DVD’s.  Storyteller comes next, followed by Bring Him Home and Home for the Holidays again bringing up the rear.

Those of you who completed the survey will remember I also asked you which album you preferred – to find out the answer, you’ll have to be a subscriber!

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Five weeks today many of us Alfie Boe fans will be taking our seats for the first show, in Newcastle, of Alfie’s new tour.  If you’re excited, share this on facebook or twitter with #AlfieBoeUKTour – thank you in advance!

In anticipation of this, let’s kick off the countdown of Alfie Boe’s Best Ever Live Song – thank you for nominating and voting.  Some of the songs that were nominated are very familiar to us already, as they were also voted in the top ten of Alfie Boe’s Best Recorded Song earlier this year or have featured in other polls.  Just to recap, the songs nominated were:

  • Don’t Stop Me Now – New Year’s Eve 2013
  • Jacob’s Ladder
  • Buona Sera – Belfast Proms 2014
  • You Are My Heart’s Delight – Blackpool 2013
  • Always on My Mind
  • Barcelona – Laura Wright duet 2013
  • Rank Strangers
  • Led Zeppelin’s Rock n’Roll
  • Midnight Rider
  • Sweet Home Chicago

And so, the song placed at Number Five is…..Rank Strangers, a capella version from the Storyteller tour, 2013.   This was nominated by Liz Hardman and this particular version, sung as the encore each night of that tour was one of the highlights for many fans.  The recorded version was voted into third place in the Best Recorded Song poll.

Alfie’s Rank Strangers was recorded for the 2012 album Storyteller and was famously recorded in one take – Alfie ending up practically conducting the rest of the band to get the sound he wanted.  The song was originally 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. Unfortunately for Alfie I couldn’t find a video of Dylan singing the song but here is The Stanley Brothers who made the song famous in the 1950’s:

Although Rank Strangers appeared on Storyteller, Alfie first began singing this in concert at the beginning of 2012, mainly using an a capella sound with sometimes just a guitar accompaniment.  To see how Alfie’s rendition has changed, the videos below are from the Bring Him Home tour, the mid-2012 tour and the Storyteller tour:

Let me know which one you prefer (using the comment box below) – mine is the last one for many reasons, not least that I was there to hear Alfie playing guitar and to see how much it meant to him to play at the Royal Albert Hall under his own name.

don’t forget to share! – #AlfieBoeUKTour

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Alfie’s new album, Serenata is available to pre-order now:

serenata

 

As we come to the mid way point of our Alfie Boe Best Ever Song countdown so in the best tradition of all countdowns, let’s recap on the songs do far:

  • 10: You Are My Hearts Delight – Love was A Dream
  • 9:    Fratello Sole, Sorella Luna – You’ll Never Walk Alone
  • 8:   If You Go Away – Trust
  • 7:   Rosie – Trust
  • 6:   Parlami D’amore Mariu – La Passione

Number 5 is the first song in the Top Ten from Alfie’s 2012 album, Storyteller, and like the other track from that album, is heavily infused with a bluesy, gospel sound.  Wayfaring Stranger is an early 20th century American folk song that has been covered by a multitude of artists including Burl Ives, Johnny Cash, Ed Sheeran and Eva Cassidy.  The version that Alfie cites however, in the Decca Storybook, is by Emmy Lou Harris.  This video is from 1980:

Emmy Lou’s version is stripped back to show off her rich, clear vocals and gradually builds into something more while Alfie has added a New Orleans style jazz, up tempo sound to get the result we hear on Storyteller.  This juxtaposes the difference between the almost spiritual lyrics and the melody.  Harris, on the other hand, uses a melody and tempo more in line with the spiritual element of the song.  This is Alfie’s Wayfaring Stranger from the 2013 Storyteller tour:

Love the backing vocals by Seweuse and Lucy  – and thanks to Linda W for sharing!

If you don’t yet have the Storyteller album, click on the image below:

storytellercd

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