Recently, I have been listening to the upcoming orchestral version of Pete Townshend's Quadrophenia in the run up to the album release in June. It sounds fabulous, especially the vocals which sound as if they were recorded from a live performance and not in the studio (even though they were) and I discussed this with tenor Alfie Boe, who plays the lead role of Jimmy, when I interviewed him this week.
The interview actually started with chat about music education as I was sitting in the playground of my son's school. I was there to do some fundraising for the specialist music education required by the National Curriculum; as Alfie is well aware, given his recent comments on the state of music education in the UK, schools legally have to provide music education but are given no funding. This often means that music education is not as healthy as it should be. The conversation then turned to Nordoff Robbins and the music therapy and rehabilitation programmes they run which also have no central government funding at all. Alfie would like to see some funding set aside to subsidise the therapies available but doesn't seem too confident that this will actually happen.
Now, as we were there to talk about Classic Quadrophenia, I started by asking how long he had been involved with the project as it was only about six months ago that the fans became aware of his participation. Alfie said that he came on board about "a year ago. I was asked to go and sing for Pete, to see if I had the right sound for the project". Obviously, the answer was a resounding yes and Alfie went on to spend two days in the studio with the orchestra. The vocals heard on the album were then recorded in Pete Townshend's own studio in (Alfie's words) "a good few hours. The sound is almost like a live recording of my vocals as it was really flowing, we were really in the groove". I asked Alfie how difficult it was to sing and although some parts are trickier than others, the most difficult for him was getting the emotional intensity right. "It's an emotional piece and you have to understand what you are singing and the emotional intent behind it and then you're alright". I should say that he's got the emotional intensity spot on as it's a very powerful album.
Although this was a brief phone interview, I did ask about Les Mis on Broadway. Alfie said that he has always been interested in doing Broadway as it would finish off his Jean ValJean story nicely - 25th anniversary concert, West End run and then Broadway. When asked why now, his answer was that it's all down to timing. It wasn't the right time before but it is now - simple as that. Oh, and he mentioned that he is scheduled to be performing in the show until February but please do check the website as there are some dates he's not doing. He has another project lined up for those dates and I can tell you that he will be appearing in Quadrophenia in Germany on the following dates:
13th October - Cologne
26th October - Munich
31 October - Vienna
There is another project still to be confirmed but I hope to be able to tell you about that next time!
This article was originally published on www.thoughtsofjustafan.com.