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REVIEW: Ball & Boe bring Christmas sparkle and legendary voices to P&J Live

Michael Ball and Alfie Boe brought Christmas magic to P&J Live.
Michael Ball and Alfie Boe brought Christmas magic to P&J Live.

If you haven’t already got the full swing of Christmas feeling, then a night with the legendary voices Michael Ball and Alfie Boe would sweep you right into it.

Last night the duo – dubbed Ball & Boe – brought their tour, Together at Christmas, to the P&J Live.

For those not already in the know, the pair met a decade ago on the set of a production of the musical, Kismet.

Operatic tenor Boe played the Calif. Actor and singer Ball was the Poet. They hit it off and first recorded Together, an album of musical theatre classics in 2016. Its success led them to record another – Together Again. Last year, they released Together at Christmas, recorded under lock down and featuring a mix of secular and sacred tunes.

Michael Ball & Alfie Boe concert at P&J Live. Pic by Chris Sumner/DCTMEDIA

Their evident friendship is their schtick when performing together on stage. But their voices together are sonically powerful in addition to their charisma.

Most of the audience was in the know. When Ball shouted out asking who had seen them before, the answer came back resoundingly to the positive.

‘Tis the season to be jolly

Rocking the Christmas tunes was how they ended the show. The punters were by that time mostly all up on their feet and singing along because ’tis the season and everyone’s having fun.

Ball & Boe get in the groove.

But the tunes they chose throughout the show were so varied, combining a mix of Broadway and West End musical theatre show tunes and other hits – ones that suited the fortissimo voices accompanied by some highly impressive musicians on horns, keyboard, strings along with a solid complement of backing singers.

They paid a tribute to the late great Stephen Sondheim, with a tender ballad from his musical, Sweeny Todd. They unearthed familiar songs known by many but not heard for a while, like The Rose, the tune made famous by Bette Middler.

Arms aloft for Queen medley

The musical Les Miserables has been pivotal to the careers of both singers. Boe, who was urged to audition for opera as an apprentice mechanic, is known for his Jean Valjean. Ball in his turn made his West End debut in the original London production. So there are two solos from Les Mis and a big duet to finish the section in tribute to the iconic show.

But if that’s too highbrow (which it didn’t seem to be for last night’s crowd), there’s also tunes from the likes of Status Quo and a barnstorming medley of Queen songs – arms were aloft across the venue as the audience sang and stomped along with We will rock you and We are the champions.

Megan McKenna. Pic by Chris Sumner/DCTMEDIA

Then the music took another shift as Ball & Boe revved up their tribute to the Blues Brothers – the 1980s comedy homage to Chicago R&B. All donned bowler hats and dark glasses, even the sax player.

It also featured one of the night’s bigger revelations.

The opening act for the show was Megan McKenna. The Celebrity X Factor winner has released a country-style festive tune, Family at Christmas, and has joined the tour.

Her solo set was an varied mix of covers – Wilson Phillips and Lionel Ritchie – alongside her own compositions, which have lately been influenced by a stint in the country western mecca of Nashville, Tennessee.

Triumphant night from Ball & Boe.

But given the support from Ball & Boe’s spectacular live band and some onstage chemistry, McKenna shimmered and nailed a version of Aretha Franklin’s Think in the Blues Brothers set. Then, when it was time for Christmas, she out Mariah’ed a version of All I want for Christmas is you.

Another star of the night was the P&J Live itself. It proved a fitting venue for a show focused on light entertainment and some cracking tunes, supported by exciting stage visual effects, bright lights and brilliant acoustics.

Check our gallery of fans at Ball & Boe

GALLERY: Fans delight as Ball & Boe are together again at P&J Live

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