Alfie Boe performing his Trust Tour at the Capital FM Arena Nottingham on Wednesday 3rd December 2014
Images and Review by Kevin Cooper
The term, ‘The People’s Tenor’ was used to describe Russell Watson, but in truth, Alfie Boe appears to have stolen that title from him. That he can also boast various useful attributes to the role, not least a lovely rags to riches story, does help his profile. Having been bought up in Fleetwood, Lancashire as the youngest of nine children, he used to work in the TVR factory in Blackpool before being advised that he had a superb voice by a customer. The rest, you can say, is history as he has fought his way to the top of the classical music tree, thus achieving his dream.
Having previously seen him perform at The Royal Concert Hall, I did wonder if he had overstretched himself with this performance in the cavernous surroundings of the Arena. This was based simply upon the number of empty seats and nothing to do with his performance.
Hot on the heels of the release of his latest album Serenata, a collection of Italian songs which makes up his fifth consecutive top twenty success, he did not disappoint as he delivered a set which showcased material from his whole recording career. Those who did not bag a ticket really missed out on a show that was packed with good humour and scintillating musical talent.
Arriving on stage, not in his usual casual attire, but suited and booted with a sharp new haircut, he delivered a set list that was cleverly constructed and meticulously planned. Starting with material from his previous Italian album, La Passione, he was joined on stage by five excellent musicians. It was during Caruso that the backdrop fell to reveal a very talented string section. This was a nice theatrical touch and his affectionate rapport with the audience throughout the show was a constant reminder of how much the tenor manages to endear himself to his adoring fans.
Boe’s sense of humour was prevalent throughout. Asking some people who were late sitting down, where they had been; to the reply that they were simply moving to get a better view, he said “ok, that’s another £20”. Later he teased his fans by threatening to walk off without doing anything from musical theatre, to then bounce back with a brilliantly constructed medley of show songs which included Come What May, Wheels Of A Dream and Being Alive.
Despite the fact that he was backed by a wonderful orchestra, he chose to sing everybody’s favourite aria, Nessun Dorma with just backing from the piano. It was breathtakingly beautiful as was his a cappella delivery of Danny Boy which brought the Arena to its feet in appreciation.
The song that everyone had come to hear, Bring Him Home, did not disappoint. The lead into the song saw a solo accordionist playing the Les Miserables anthem, whilst an old film of Victor Hugo’s classic story played behind him on the big screens. Nowhere was the emotion and power of this song more evident than at the Arena tonight. It was so exquisite that people around me were genuinely moved to tears as he delivered this number in an emotional, haunting way with an immaculately controlled falsetto. This audience will never tire of listening to this wonderful version, just as we hope that he never tires of singing it.
Boe also showed that he is a great showman. Tonight he was in great form, with broad smiles all round as the audience rose to their feet through Mambo Italiano and an encore of Glory Glory Hallelujah. His favourite Neopolitan songs like Voltare and Buona Sera Signorita showed the sway and flow to his music that totally suited his amazing voice.
Never one to shy away from mixing the popular and classical during his career, Boe is starring as Jimmy in the reworking of Pete Townshend’s 1973 rock opera, Quadrophenia, at The Royal Albert Hall in July next year. It was therefore fitting that he completed the finale by giving his fans a taste of what was to come, with I’m One and Love Reign O’er Me.
With the awesome musicianship of the musical director Murray Gould and a special mention given to guitarist Matt White, this concert was a classy affair. From the set design, the musicians, the use of strings, the set list and the use of the big screens to compliment the running order, Boe really did deliver.
The quality of his voice simply stole the show. But I was left wondering if I was on my own in thinking that such a performance deserved a more intimate setting. That said, if he was performing in the local pub or the largest venue in the world, there would still be an army of fans that would be there to see him, and I am certain that he would not disappoint. For an artist that has never forgotten his roots, he deserves all of the accolades that come his way, and long may they continue.