Great news this week – the Classic Quadrophenia album is now available to order on Amazon! Click on the album below to pre-order here – the release date is currently scheduled for 22 June:
Now I know you can’t wait for this to be released so here’s Alfie singing Love Reign O’er Me on his recent tour:
Sadly, Alfie confirmed this week that the cancelled Brighton date is unable to be rescheduled. However, sometimes shows have to be cancelled or postponed due to illness and the fact that this news has only just been released shows how hard Alfie’s team have tried to make it work.
Hopefully, once they have received their refunds (from point of original purchase) fans will be able to attend one of the other concerts due to take place this summer – click here for upcoming events.
A week today and West End star John Owen-Jones will be taking to the stage with Katherine Jenkins on the first night of her headline tour of the UK. John also has a new album, Rise, due for release on 2 March and if that wasn’t enough, it’s just been announced that he will star as Pirelli in the much anticipated ENO production of SweeneyTodd from 30 March to 12 April this year! Click here for tickets.
In advance of all this, I caught up with him to ask a few questions (my questions / comments in bold) – thanks John! Also, huge thanks to Jacqui Archer, JOJ super fan, who helped me come up with some great questions.
How did you choose the tracks for Rise – and what didn’t make the cut? It’s a lengthy process actually. I spent a year putting together various tracklistings with various concepts attached to them but in the end went for a tracklisting that had variety. At one point I had a Rolling Stones track, something from a very rarely performed musical, an opera track, a prog rock track…the list goes on. But I very much wanted the album to be cohesive and some songs I really liked just didn’t fit well enough with some of my favourites. So they had to go. Hopefully I’ll use them down the line somewhere.
How do you choose duetting partners on your albums, in this case Ruthie Henshall and Madalena Alberto? I try to choose singers I like that really fit the song well. I also choose people I’m friends with as there is already chemistry there. There were ideas for other duets but I knew I wanted to work with Ruthie and Madalena at some point as I think they are both brilliant. When putting the album together I knew I had the perfect songs for them to shine on so it ended up being an easy choice to have them on the album. I’m lucky they said yes!
You mix and produce your own music, why is that and what does it involve (most of us have no clue!)? Basically producing is pulling all the different elements of making a recording together and mixing is blending the various sounds together to make it sound as good as possible. A couple of months before recording starts I sit down with my record company and decide on the final tracks for the album. Then my musical director John Quirk and I go through each song and how it should sound, what instruments are needed etc. We then demo the songs with a just piano and vocal to get a feel for how the album should flow and how the songs sound together. I then arrange a running order of songs and start coming up with ideas for artwork while John arranges the music and books the musicians. We then rehearse and record the musicians over a few days whilst I sing a guide vocal to set tempos. After the music is recorded I’ll record my vocals which can take several weeks depending on the nature of the material. Guests artistes then record their contribution and the mixing process starts. This basically involves balancing all the sounds recorded. A trumpet may be too loud on one small part of a track for example so we adjust the volume to make it sit better in the overall sound. During mixing we may end up dropping or adding instruments as necessary, changing certain vocals, adding harmonics, sound effects and many other things. The end result is hopefully what I hear in my head. If not, things get tweaked until it sounds right to me. Mixing can be a very time consuming process as you have to mix and listen to every track dozens of times. On an album thats an average of 45 mins long that takes ages. It’s a finicky slow process but one which I enjoy as I love sculpting the sound. There are many singers out there who have nothing to do with this process and just record the vocals. That’s fine but it’s not really me. I love the idea that I’m shaping something artistic when I record an album and want to be involved in every aspect of production if I can.
What are you most looking forward to about touring with Katherine Jenkins and will you be duettingwith her in the show? I will be singing with her, yes. I’m looking forward to that. I’m also looking forward to performing in venues/cities I’ve never been to before and meeting lots of new people. (Tickets are still available, click here).
If you concentrate on your solo music, will we be seeing you on your own headline tour? Hopefully! If audiences and promoters want me I’ll do it! Pretty sure there’s an audience out there for you John!
What is your favourite song to sing and what is the song you have sung most? Probably Bring Him Home from Les Miz. That answers both those questions I think!
If there is one song that Alfie Boe fans expect him to sing at a concert it is Bring Him Home; do your fans have thatsame expectation of you? Of course. Luckily I love singing it.
The video of you and Alfie singing BHH at his RAH concert in 2013 has over 115,000 views – any plans to worth with him again? Not at the moment – but hopefully our paths will cross again. I didn’t plan to work with him that night at the Albert Hall. He dragged me up onstage with no rehearsal, totally unprompted. It was a shock to say the least. I really enjoyed it though! The bloke sitting in the seat next to me didn’t know who I was (he’d been dragged along to the show by his wife I think) and was gobsmacked when I joined Alfie onstage!
When I asked the question, the views for this video stood at 115,000 – now they’re up to 122,000 and counting! Thanks for sharing Linda – it was a magical moment.
John’s new album, Rise is due to be released on 2 March and is available now for pre-order:
John’s new album got a plug on Flo Bannigan’s blog this week too! – click here.
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This week I have been listening to “People’s Soprano” Rebecca Newman’s classical chart topping album Dare toDream and it’s an absolute belter. Although I have been aware of Rebecca for a year or so, mainly through twitter,(social media PR does work) this is the first time I have listened to her beautiful voice – and I’ve been missing out.
Having started her musical career aged 14 as Julie Jordan in Carousel at the Exmouth Pavilion, Rebecca then took holiday jobs to pay for singing lessons. The world of work beckoned and it wasn’t until she went to York to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics that she began treating singing as more than just a hobby. Weddings and busking supported her singing lessons and eventually led to the release of her first CD, Music Box in 2005. Cantare (2008), Memory (2009), O Holy Night (2010) and Fields of Gold (2011) followed. Live performances last year culminated in supporting Aled Jones on his Cathedral tour.
Dare to Dream is a collection of mainly operatic arias with a couple of original songs (co-written by Rebecca) as well. Of the two original songs, Heroes to the World is a classical sounding song with a pop like structure that could easily be something used in the sporting world whilst Dare to Dream is an inspiring song that sounds like it’s Rebecca’s personal motto. If it isn’t, it should be!
My favourite song on the album is also Alfie Boe’s favourite (he has tweeted his support for Rebecca several times), Casta Diva, from Bellini’s Norma. Known as one of the most difficult arias in a soprano’s repertoire, Rebecca’s soaring vocals gave me tingles down my spine as I listened.
Overall, the album has an excellent choice of songs to showcase Rebecca’s range although I did find my interest waning when it came to some of the songs that we are somewhat used to hearing from sopranos in recent years. Much better to hear Rebecca’s impressive voice wrapped around Micaela’s Aria, Rondine al Nido and Sull’Aria (duet with fellow soprano Mary Jess). When it came to La Boheme’s Mi Chimiano Mimi, I confess that my mind started wandering to the possibilities of a Rebecca / Alfie duet – to hear them sing O Soave Fanciulla would be wonderful but anything would do!
…I’m sure that you don’t need reminding that it was Alfie Boe’s Best Live Song (as voted by you), Don’t Stop MeNow, on Gary Barlow’s New Year’s Eve Celebration:
What a great end / start to the year that was!
So, to round off the year, I’m looking back at my top ten thoughtsofjustafan moments (in no particular order) – hope you enjoy.
1 – Alfie’s best ever recorded song countdown – some great songs nominated (click here for the longlist) and while the result was never really in doubt, some of the top ten were very unexpected. This was my most commented on post of the year!
2 – Michael Boe’s interview and the release of the track list for his next album – great news, Michael told me that him and Sean will shortly be back in the studio! The release of the track list was the 3rd most viewed post!
3 – Serenata – my favourite track changes all the time. The first post about the new album was the 2nd most viewed post this year, sandwiched between the Alfie on the Royal Variety Show and Michael’s new album.
4 – Caruso live at Newcastle (thanks Linda for sharing):
5 – Symfunny stage door – so lucky to be able to chat to relaxed Alfie! But it was so cold…in June!
6 – Getting published on the Huffington Post UK! Such a thrill!
7 – Hearing Addio Sogni di Gloria at Classic FM live (thanks Marcia for sharing):
8 – Quadrophenia on tour – roll on Royal Albert Hall next July:
9 – Laura Wright’s interview.
10 – Two (!!!) interviews from James Morgan – such a lovely man.
Last, but not least, thank you for all the support that you have given me since day one of this blog. Thank you doesn’t seem adequate somehow but a huge big thank you hug for each and every one of you – some I’ve met, some I haven’t but your support is very much appreciated. In particular, thanks to:
Debbie Bannigan for her unstinting support, encouragement and willingness to share her amazing fount of knowledge – thoughtsofjustafan truly would not exist in its current form without you xxx
Sue Black for sharing every single blog post ever published! xxx
Linda Wellington, Nikki Lewis, Marcia Studley for sharing their Alfie videos xxx
Carole Hunt for letting me use the banner photo of Alfie on the site xxx
Claire Smith and Michelle Keogh for sharing my Alfie survey on their facebook sites – and thanks to all who filled it in xxx
Cynthia Shepherd, Cecelia Powell, Linda McCann and Annie Lloyd for being my top commenters xxx
What are your top ten moments – leave me a comment!
Happy New Year to you all
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So, to paraphrase the opening song of the Storyteller tour, It’s Over for Alfie Boe’s 2014 UK tour. Just writing that first sentence has taken me most of the day – sad the tour has finished but feeling incredibly thankful that I was able to see five concerts. Additionally, thanks to the incredible generosity of my lovely friend Linda I was able to get a photo and a hug with the man himself…I just about managed to keep upright! More about that in a later post!
Anyone who is an Alfie fan will be aware that for him to headline at London’s O2 arena is a very special moment in his career. As he acknowledged on Friday night, the last time he set foot on that stage was as Jean ValJean at the Les Mis 25th anniversary concert and of course it turned out to be a career changing role. A considerable number of Alfie Boe fans know him through the Les Mis connection and THAT BringHim Home moment in particular so although that song always brings the house down wherever Alfie sings it, his rendition on Friday was even more powerful and emotionally charged for audience and Alfie alike. Here is where I can let you into a secret: I am actually a little bit over BringHim Home these days. Sacrilege I know but I’ve heard it plenty and it’s not my favourite Alfie song. However, on Friday I was completely bowled over by the emotional intensity in Alfie’s performance – and so was the rest of the audience.
The set list had changed again from the last show I saw (Manchester), largely due to Alfie’s throat infection which sadly meant the postponement of Brighton, but I was thrilled that he still sang Nessun Dorma and the two Quadrophenia songs. Never heard them before but they are fast becoming firm favourites, and I’m really excited for the album and show next year. One or two of us were worried about Alfie’s voice but we really needn’t have been; he was in fine fettle. This was one hell of a performance and a resounding success – lots of tweets saying people had taken family members as a treat but been totally blown away and ended up fans themselves.
And so to the end of the tour, Cardiff. The evening started emotionally for me as Sol3 Mio (who trained in Wales) sang an impromptu Calon Lan which had me in tears…my Dad used to sing it to me when I was a child. Although their on stage banter could do with changing up a little before their 2015 UK tour, their performances have been outstanding and many Alfie fans have become Sol3 Mio fans too. The lucky Cardiff audience even got to see and hear them perform Volare with Alfie too – although only after a considerable wait while they were tracked down from somewhere around the venue!
Cardiff audiences are always great and this was no exception; however, even though Alfie invited us to stand up and dance, not many did and this led to some awkward moments for those of us who did want to dance. Concert etiquette is something I’ll definitely come back to at a later date – there are wildly opposing views on this!
The main change to the set list in Cardiff was the inclusion of Glory Glory Hallelujah from the Trust album – that really got the audience up and dancing. Alfie looked so happy during that song and the jumping bean dancing was well and truly unleashed! Apparently his nieces called it Dad dancing but we all loved it. The revelation for me on this tour was hearing Danny Boy. It is not one of my favourite songs, in fact I could easily say I can’t stand it…until I heard Alfie sing it. I have always said that Alfie could sing the phone book to me and I’d be happy but this is the first time that he has transformed a song I hate into one I love – albeit only when he sings it LOL. Danny Boy will be one of my tour highlights – I’d love to hear your tour highlights so please leave a comment. Thanks Linda for sharing the video:
Once again, Alfie gave us a fantastic show – every single person I have spoken to about it had only praise, not one single negative comment. In my experience, that is rare – such a shame there is no official DVD. The musicians in Boe’s Band, Murray Gould, Matt White, John Tonks, Richard Causon and Dan McKinna were incredible and more about them in a later post but outstanding.
Lastly, as with all Alfie Boe concerts / tours etc, it is not only Alfie but the friends we meet up with and make along the way. So, in no particular order (and apologies if I miss anyone, please let me know!) huge thanks to Linda W, Linda A, Janet, Nikki, Katie, Sally, Pat and Janet, Jan and Brad, Carole, Shelley, Sue, Pauline, Chelley, Cecelia and Cassie, Annie, Marcia, Tienne, Sonia, Marie, Geri, Linda E, Carole and Eric, Nancy and Marj, Andrea, Sally, Lea Ann, Roberta, Ellen, Emma, Nicola, Claire, Tracie, Margie, Gill and Malc, Karen and Richard, Gloria and Joan for making this tour so memorable and happy. Some of you were there only in my heart, some of you I’ve known for a while and are fabulous friends and some of you I met for the first time on this tour but you all played your part xxxxx
UK fans need not despair though as new 2015 dates are being added all the time – Hampton Court Festival has just been announced today.
Serenata is available here:
thanks for reading – don’t forget to tell me your tour highlights in the comments section!
Wow, what a week since the last Friday Round Up! I saw Alfie Boe in Leeds and Manchester and had a truly wonderful time. The teething problems of Newcastle had all been ironed out and the whole show was superb. That said, and with the benefit of hindsight, Alfie’s throat problems were slightly in evidence and sadly, this led to the postponement of the Brighton gig on Tuesday. Really hope that all those who missed out are able to get to the rescheduled date (unknown at this point).
The Bournemouth concert did go ahead though and click here to see a fantastic review by a new Alfie Boe convert from the Dorset Echo. At the same time, Alfie was appearing on the Royal Variety Performance on ITV. He first led the audience in the National Anthem right at the top of the programme and then later sang Luna Malinconia from, of course, his new album, Serenata. Just when we thought it was all over, he then appeared in the finale singing a line from Sinatra’s Fly Me To The Moon, along with Demi Lovato, Shirley Bassey, Ellie Goulding, Bette Midler, Mick Hucknall and Michael McIntyre.
Also this week it was announced that Alfie is to return to summer music festivals next year, with an appearance at the Scarborough Last Night of the Proms on 27 June 2015. The date marks National Armed Forces Day and the Military Wives Choir will also appear. Another festival, Alive @ Delapre follows on 19 July. In addition, you can also see Alfie in a more intimate setting in Northern Ireland.
Wow is the word for Alfie Boe’s current UK Tour! This was my first concert since the Newcastle opener on 29 November and it is good to see that the show is now much slicker and smoother. Gone are the disjointed set changes which marked the first show, in fact, they are now so slick that I didn’t even notice them.
This week of course saw the official confirmation that Alfie is to appear in the premiere of Classic Quadrophenia next year and us lucky fans got a preview of two songs, I’m One and Love Reign O’er Me, as part of the encore. How on earth Alfie sings those two songs at the end of a two hour concert is beyond me – spine tingling is the only to describe them. It is evident how excited Alfie is at the prospect of the role. The addition of these two songs means that others had to go: Luna Malinconia, Parlami D’amore Mariu, Serenata Celeste and Glory, Glory, Hallelujah were the songs that made way but I don’t think the set list is any worse off. Once again, Caruso was the first spine tingle, goose bump moment (so fantastic to hear Alfie sing these songs live) although I am a bit hard pressed to choose between that and Danny Boy. Indeed, Cecelia, experiencing her first concert of this tour was moved to tears by the beauty of Alfie’s performance on that song. You left the arena thinking it impossible to think of anyone singing it as well.
The musicianship of Alfie’s band (Murray, Matt, Richard, Dan and John) is simply outstanding; Richard’s piano accompaniment to ReconditaArmonia and Nessun Dorma is breathtaking, whilst Murray and Matt’s guitar playing is stunning and leads perfectly into the rockier part of the show. The audiences is Leeds and Manchester were a bit livelier than Newcastle and didn’t need much encouragement to dance and sing through Trust, Keep Me in Your Heart, Volare, Mambo Italiano and Buona Sera. A highlight of this section was Alfie bringing Sol3 Mio onto the stage to sing Volare with him. They did well (with what seemed like zero rehearsal) but Alfie easily outshone them. It will be interesting to see how they fare next time, if there is a next time. Thanks Linda for the video:
Sol3 Mio are the support act for this tour and a very entertaining trio they are. Having said that, their banter between songs didn’t change at all between Newcastle and Leeds so it was a pleasant change to hear them change it up a bit for Manchester. Two tenors and a baritone comprise the group and they gave us a lovely insight into what audiences for their headline UK tour next year can expect. My Way, Sole Mio, Yellow Bird and Nella Fantasia were good but the highlight for me was We Are Samoa which was by far their best song.
On the evidence of these two concerts, Alfie is going from strength to strength and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us next!
Don’t forget the Royal Variety Show Monday 8th December 7.30pm!
Alfie Boe’s new album, Serenata, is available below: