Earlier this year, two musical giants announced they would be recording an album and embarking on a UK wide tour at the beginning of November. Response was so great that more and more dates were added and now the Alfie Boe and Michael Ball Together tour is scheduled to run for six weeks. Although I have been aware of Michael and followed his career for a long time (indeed it was him who introduced me to Alfie via Sweeney Todd and Les Mis) and been to see him in concert a few years ago, I admit that I was curious and slightly concerned as to how his voice would blend with Alfie's in a live setting.
I needn't have worried - from the first note to the last, Ball and Boe were outstanding. Starting with Somewhere, with both off stage and progressing through more tracks from Together as well as nods to Sinatra, Elvis and James Bond, Alfie and Michael complemented each other beautifully and yet highlighted their differences too. Michael's Elvis was from the later years, although I do love his song choice, The Wonder of You, whereas Alfie's That's Alright Mama was the closest we got to rocking Alfie, complete with guitar! The harmonies were gorgeous and the arrangements were clearly chosen to enhance the strengths of both voices and their very different approaches to singing which meant a perfect balance between the two throughout the whole concert. My favourite Together song was A Thousand Years but the finale of the Les Mis medley was absolutely spine tingling - immediately after the concert I mused that I would have liked to have heard Bring Him Home all in one go but on reflection, it was actually really lovely to hear a new way of performing a song I've heard lots and neatly finished the Les Mis segment, coming after the soaring vocals of I Dreamed A Dream. The encore of You'll Never Walk Alone was also pretty special...what it will be like in Liverpool with the Kop choir I can't imagine.
As befits two vocal giants, each had their own segment of the show and Michael gave a superb performance of Gethsemane before leading into his trademark song, Love Changes Everything. He must have sung that song thousands of times in his career but it was still magical. However, for me, the two highlights of the night came with Alfie's solo spot. Firstly, came my favourite song, Keep Me In Your Heart which had us all up on our feet singing and dancing. I was even happier when Alfie went on to perform the fans favourite Alfie Boe song, Love Reign O'er Me from Classic Quadrophenia. Although I don't think anything could match the intensity of that first performance at the Royal Albert Hall in 2015, last night was a close second for me.
Overall, my first Ball and Boe concert was a triumph and I can't wait to see where they take it by the end of the tour. The show itself was very well rehearsed and choreographed, although I'm pleased to report that not everything went perfectly in that regard. You know you've been at an Alfie concert when something goes wrong and Bournemouth was no exception. Alfie's long time MD Murray Gould and fellow guitarist, Sam, had to play a very long intro to A Wonderful World due to Alfie's repeated corpsing and even when he eventually got the first line out, it was through gritted teeth as he was still inclined to giggle helplessly. Michael of course was no help, openly laughing until he cried. Michael and Alfie have chemistry in spades and this was abundantly clear in the banter between songs, as was the mutual respect with which these two fabulous singers hold each other.
Alfie Boe and Michael Ball's album, Together, is available now from Decca.
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