I’ll admit I arrived at The Royal Albert Hall not in the best of moods… A nightmare day at work, and the potential threat of climate change protesters disrupting our journey did not make for a relaxing start to the evening.
That, however was soon remedied from the moment the support act Hattie Briggs started to sing. Her rendition of Fields of Gold was on a par with the version by Eva Cassidy, and one of our group even said she reminded him of Joni Mitchell. Yes, she was THAT good. Where she really came in to her own however, was singing her own songs, the most noteable being Just Breathe, written for her mother. Spotted by Alfie himself, whilst busking at Paddington station, this woman is sure to go far.. and I can honestly say it was the first time I had seen an audience stand and applaud a support act.
Now, on to the main event, Mr Alfie Boe Himself. There had been reports that he was feeling the strain of touring and he has been described as “looking exhausted” well, there was certainly no evidence of that in this show, but it would be quite easy to see why he would be exhausted. He bounced and danced around like an excited toddler, looking genuinely thrilled just to be performing. For me, the best moments of the night however, came when he just stood up and sang. Bring Him Home will always be a crowd pleaser , and never fails to make me cry, and his version of Run is the best I know of. This is not to take away from the more upbeat songs on this journey through the ages of music, it is just personal preference on my part. Starting in the 30s and 40s with Sing Sing Sing, and working up to more recent times (via an amazing stripped back version of Sweet Child O’ Mine) There was something for everyone.
Onto the cameos… There was not a dry eye in the house when the children from Rays of Sunshine children’s choir joined Alfie on stage for Bring Me Sunshine. From there, it was a touch of comedy, when Alfie welcome to Ben Miller onto the stage to sing Wagon Wheel with him. Unfortunately, from where we sat, we could not hear his voice, as Alfie completely overpowered him, so, for us at the back, at least, it added nothing to the show. The real trump card however came, when Kelsey Grammer was brought on stage and the Royal Albert Hall erupted. Kelsey is best known for playing Dr Frasier Crane in Frasier, and also sang the theme tune, so we all knew he could sing a bit. Well, as it turns out, he can sing A LOT. His deep, gravelly voice on Minnie the Moocher was in total contrast to his rather endearing Dad dancing.
The encore was classic Alfie, As Time Goes By, followed by Run. Seeing the lights of thousands of phones lighting up the Royal Albert Hall is a sight I will never forget, and I even have goosebumps thinking about it now.
Signing off as one extremely tired, but extremely happy little Londoner X