2012 has been one heck of a year for Britain’s favourite tenor Alfie Boe and the excitement continues for the down-to-earth Lancastrian with the release of his most personal album to date on Monday .
Reporter JAMES BRINDLE spoke to him about the album Storyteller, his incredible year full of highlights and looked ahead to his upcoming arena tour in 2013.
LIFE has changed dramatically over the last 12 months for Fleetwood tenor Alfie Boe who has seen his star soar to incredible new heights.
The year began with the Alfie album which saw him break the top 10 of the UK album charts, before performing in Australia on a string of dates with Olivia Newton-John at the Sydney Opera House.
However it was the summer which saw Boe in dreamland as he performed for the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace as part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and recorded an official Team GB song for the London Olympics.
“There have been many highlights over the last 12 months,” Boe told the Mail.
“The Queen’s Jubilee was incredible to be involved in and then singing the theme for Team GB at the Olympics was another amazing honour for me.
“Also just recording my new album and going in this new direction that I really want to pursue has been a big highlight.
To have been given this opportunity is a dream come true.” Boe’s excitement with his new album is really palpable when you talk to him as it has seen him move away somewhat from the music that made his name and open up many new doors.
On Storyteller Boe strips some of his very favourite songs to their core and tackles genres of music he has always loved but never had the chance to pursue.
New arrangements of timeless classics such as Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel and Elvis Presley’s I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You, as well as songs with a more bluesy, American sound make the cut.
“It’s very personal and the direction of the album is where I want to be going,” Boe said. “The whole album sets up a lot of avenues and a lot of genres of music I can go down.
“There are hints of rock, blues and country, but for me Americana music is perhaps most represented as there are three songs on there of that folksy, bluesy rock sound.
“That sound seems to suit my voice pretty well as well.
“A lot of these songs have been in my repertoire for quite a few years really so it’s nice to finally be able to get them down on record and put them out to the public.
“They have been favourite songs of mine for many years.” The recording process for Storyteller was done the old-fashioned way, as in the 1960s, singing live with the band and orchestra with Boe virtually conducting as he sang.
“This recording process was really exciting for me,” Boe said. “I really like to be with the band members when I am recording but you don’t usually get that opportunity.
“It tends to be that the orchestra will record their parts and I would have to just go in a vocal booth and sing to the music that has been recorded.
“It can be quite an impersonal process but this time it was incredible to record with my own five-piece rock band in the same room.”
Those who did not know of Alfie Boe at the start of 2012 will almost certainly know who he is now and that is true on both sides of the Atlantic.
As Brits continue to achieve success in the US, so has Boe and he has just finished a 19-date tour in America.
His 2011 Royal Festival Tour concert proved an enormous hit on US TV and it has led to his face being well-recognised when we walks the streets.
Boe said: “This year my life has dramatically changed I have got to say and it certainly has out in America. I was in Chicago earlier in the year and did not realise how much my concert had been broadcast over there.
“I would be walking down the street and I could hear people whispering my name and recognising me in shops and things. I’m very happy to be in that position in my career.
“The US tour was wonderful the whole process of playing in America and travelling across the country was a wonderful one and visiting these cities that I had always wanted to perform in.
“The audiences were great every night and people were singing away in the crowds just as much as over here where I have wonderful fans. I am so grateful to my fans for what they have done for me.
“Unfortunately we had to cut the tour short by one date because of Hurricane Sandy which meant we couldn’t play in Pittsburgh so that was a shame.”
Boe made his name first and foremost as a classical artist and major international opera star particularly on the theatre stage.
He was famously cast by Cameron Mackintosh as Jean Valjean in the hugely acclaimed Les Miserables 25th anniversary concert at the O2 Arena in London which led to a subsequent fivemonth stretch in the West End.
With Storyteller taking Boe very much in a different direction from his background I asked him if he would ever return to the stage.
He said: “At the minute I’m really looking forward to the direction I’m going in now with my own concerts and my own albums.
“I would like to start putting some of my own music out to everybody. It would not be a dramatic leap from what I’m doing now it will be pretty similar with maybe a country, bluesy rock vibe.
“But I never want to say no to anything or close the door on any opportunity in my career. If I ever had the chance of taking a great role in a great venue I would not say so.”
Boe’s portrayal of Jean Valjean was so well received that he may forever be associated with the role but January next year will see a Hollywood contender for that title.
The film version of Les Miserables, from the director of The Kings Speech and starring the likes of Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried and Sacha Baron Cohen, comes to the big screen and is most pundits tip for Oscar glory.
The character of Jean Valjean will be played by Australian actor Hugh Jackman and Boe said he is very much looking forward to seeing his take on the role.
He said: “I am really looking forward to the film as I have a lot of friends in it and I can’t wait to see what Hugh Jackman has done with the role.
“People always bring something new to it it is never the same performance or interpretation of the role and Hugh Jackman will have not done what I did as I would not have done what he did.
“That is the beauty of Les Miserables and that is why it is such a great musical and I’m really happy that this new cast and film will be keeping it alive.”
Next year Boe embarks on a major UK arena tour with dates in the diary at the NIA in Birmingham (March 22, 2013) and the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham (April 2, 2013).
With the Royal Albert Hall, as well as arenas in Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, Cardiff and Belfast also on the agenda, Boe admitted he never envisaged an opportunity to perform in such venues.
He said: “I never thought I would be doing my own arena tour. To be given the opportunity to play a concert on such a big scale is really humbling.
“I’m looking forward to the designing it and coming up with ideas for the show it should be fantastic.”
Storyteller by Alfie Boe is out now on Decca Records and more information about tour tickets is available at www.alfie-boe.com