ALFIE BOE famously went from car mechanic to celebrated star of Les Miserables, and has spent the past couple of years wowing everyone – including HRH at a certain Diamond Jubilee celebration...
GO! catches up with Alfie while he is in the final throes of a US tour which has been going particularly well.
“I didn’t expect that at all, “ he says with a laugh.
“It totally took me by surprise.
“I was speechless when it happened and didn’t know what to say or how to comment on it...” Alfie is talking about a new experience that is happening at Boe gigs – underwear throwing!
“I did get a stringy, tiny, tiny pair and picked them up, went to the front of the stage and said ‘Thank you very much Sir, but you can have these back.’
“I wanted to play it cool, like it happens to me all the time,” he laughs some more, “There must have been 20 pairs in all!”
Ironically for a man suddenly being afflicted by pants, his career is anything but.
In the summer, he stole that aforementioned Jubilee show with a spine-tingling performance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
It looked calm on the outside, but behind the scenes?
“There was a lot of people with lighting and sound, and the palace staff were there too, making sure everything was ok.
“The room itself is amazing and the front of the palace – overlooking the monument and mall, is incredible...and the decoration is outrageous.
“It was amazing of the Royal Family to allow us to do it, a pretty special thing.”
And beyond nerves, I imagine...
“The nerves were in a different category at that particular point,” Alfie admits.
“...mixed with adrenalin, mixed with excitement and mixed with the thrill of the whole event and how special it was going to be. “It was a wonderful moment for me and I wont forget that.”
Listening to him now, it is difficult to believe that Alfie nearly quit the industry a few years ago.
“It was a real low point. I was away from my family, who were living in America, and I was on the road for most of the year, working in opera houses left, right and centre.
“It was hard being away from my family when I wanted to be with them “I was signed with EMI Records at the time too, and that hadn’t gone well.”
But you sound too passionate to simply walk away from the industry. “I don’t think I could have given anything up, I really don’t think I could have packed it in, because I wouldn’t have been happy,” he admits in hindsight.
Family matters hugely to Alfie. He is married to American actress Sarah and the couple have two young children, daughter Grace and son Alfred: “I bring my children on my shows now, which is something I love doing,” he tells me.
“I love seeing my little girl stood in the wings dancing away when she sees her dad singing and prancing and making a fool of himself on stage.
“It’s nice to be able to bring them to work with me.”
Alfie’s new opus, Storyteller is a reworking of a selection of personal favourite songs.
“The majority of the tracks are my choice actually, and the biggest track on the album for me is Wayfaring Stranger.
“It has got a real cowboy feel and a real Americana sense to the song.
“It’s a great story about a stranger crossing over from this world to the next.
“There is quite a sentiment to the song, but my arrangement is very bluesy which appeals to me and is in the direction I want to go in really.”
“I’m writing a lot of my own stuff now as well ...it has to be the right time to release your own music and put your own stuff out there though,” he considers.
“It can be a bit of a disaster if your own music is c**p!
“A lot of guys influence me – Bruce Springsteen and Dylan’s later stuff, the more bluesy stuff.
“When I watch them on stage I try and incorporate my own way of interpreting their performances.
“I was in Chicago the other day and went to an old authentic blues bar, and it was wonderful.
“It took me back to my childhood, when I used to go to the blues bars in Lancashire.
“I like catching as many shows as I can, although it’s difficult being on the road and travelling.” And Alfie does clock up the air miles somewhat – splitting his time between the UK and the US: “We are looking for a place in LA at the moment, because that’s really the place for the recording industry...”
And the weather is glorious...
“Yeah, I have to say the weather is incredible, but when I am in the Uk I miss the US and when I am in the US I miss the UK,” he says.
Alfie’s autobiography, My Story has been occupying fans, recently. It’s a really honest read – and difficult to write?
“I had a ghostwriter, but the amount of time we spent together was incredible.
“It was intense. The emotion behind writing the book was something else, actually.
“It wasn’t just me going through it either, my writer Alex felt the same emotions. It was amazing how he had to saturate himself in my feelings.
“It was quite hard, but a good process and a good result I think.
Getting good results are of course paramount for any artist, and Alfie will be going all out for similar results on his spring tour.
“I don’t class myself as a music theatre singer anymore, and definitely don’t see myself as an operatic tenor or a classical singer,” he admits.
“I just call myself a singer now, and am really enjoying trying new things out, making the audiences a little more surprised and showing them the real Alfie...”
Alfie’s new album Storyteller is released on Monday.