Alfie Boe by Chris O'Donovan
“Well, you know, he needs a bit of help...” Alfie Boe laughs. The “he” in question is Matt Lucas, one of Alfie’s best friends, his Les Mis co-star, his sometime landlord and now duettist, both on the album and new live DVD Bring Him Home.
Alfie and Matt are also responsible for a series of YouTube clips featuring Alfie – and Alfie and Matt – performing various songs in Matt’s kitchen with the aid of a karaoke machine. In another video, Alfie demonstrates his cooking abilities. Neither are what you’d expect from a professionally trained and highly acclaimed opera singer but, you know, that’s Alfie.
“You have to be yourself,” explains the singer. “I can’t be false, that doesn’t work for me.”
This relaxed attitude carries over to the concert DVD (click on the album cover, right, to view a clip). While there’s a slight disappointment that it was recorded in a proper concert hall – “we couldn’t fit everyone in the kitchen” – it’s a tremendous run through a highly varied songbook, with lots of guests, a lot of banter, an obvious camaraderie with the orchestra and a classic moment when a clarinettist starts playing the wrong song.
While other singers might have edited that out, Alfie wouldn’t dream of it. “It’s a good moment in the show that."
“It was the first time I’ve worked with them,” adds Alfie, “but the camaraderie is great, we’re going to be working together a lot over the summer.”
Including the clarinettist?
Alfie laughs. “Including the clarinettist! She’s an absolute star.”
As for the cooking, Alfie is typically self-deprecating. A question about how his cooking abilities developed gets a great reply – “I was hungry” – although he will admit he’s hoping it will lead somewhere: “I’m waiting for the invite to Saturday Kitchen. I’d love to do that.
“I’d like to cook on it but I did Something For The Weekend, where I had to cook and answer questions and when they start interviewing you I found it really hard to concentrate on the cooking. I got a bit frustrated: they kept asking me questions, I wanted to concentrate on the cake!”
Of course, trying to fit in a TV appearance could be rather tricky. Since his run as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, Alfie’s been in great demand worldwide.
“It was a life-changing event,” he explains. “I got a few questions and comments on why [a classically trained singer] was doing Jean Valjean, but it’s about as operatic as any role by Puccini or Verdi for me.
“It was the best job I’ve ever done. Partly because of the result of singing at the O2 Arena, but the story, the role, it was such fun to do and something I’ll never disconnect with. Every time I sing Bring Him Home it’s like stepping back into the role.
“When you sing songs in concert you have to immediately adapt to the new character, and the story you’re putting across. You can’t bluff a song, you have to know what it’s about, the sentiment, to make it work. You can’t just stand there and sing the notes.”
Alfie’s next big appearance will be in June for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert.
“I’m so honoured to be doing that,” he reveals. “I can’t believe I’m part of it.” He lists the performers already confirmed. “Sir Elton John, Dame Shirley Bassey, Paul McCartney, Sir Tom Jones... And Alfie Boe from Fleetwood.” He laughs. “I think I’m just going to be selling programmes.”
Alfie Boe Live: The Bring Him Home Tour is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray.