Michael Ball & Alfie Boe: dynamic duo talk lockdown, performing, and unveiling their latest album in Blackpool, the ‘Vegas of England’

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Michael Ball and Alfie Boe have never hung out together in Las Vegas, Nevada. But they have done the next best thing: spent time together in Blackpool, Lancashire.

Perhaps the UK’s favourite musical duo, Ball & Boe are born entertainers. Performers who have operated at the very apex of the industry for decades, the beloved pair have charmed many an audience with their unique combination of powerful voices and their tongue-in-cheek impudence. Their every billing comes with one telling word: unique.

And so, to the Vegas of EnglandBlackpool, where the pair unveiled their latest album as a dynamic duo, ‘Together in Vegas’. Their fifth project as a pair, the album is an homage to the entertainment capital of the world, featuring Rat Pack classics like Frank Sinatra’s ‘Luck Be A Lady’ and Dean Martin’s ‘Sway’, showstoppers such as Elvis’ ‘Viva Las Vegas’, with country ditties including Kenny Rogers’ ‘The Gambler’.

It’s a bona-fide tour de force.

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Ball & Boe unveiled their latest album, Together in Vegas, in Blackpool in late OctoberBall & Boe unveiled their latest album, Together in Vegas, in Blackpool in late October
Ball & Boe unveiled their latest album, Together in Vegas, in Blackpool in late October

“The album was just a really good opportunity to celebrate legendary artists like Elvis and Frankie Valli as well as UK artists like Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck who made a name for themselves in such an iconic city,” says the Fleetwood-born Alfie Boe. “The music they produced speaks volumes in that town and we wanted to replicate that energy.

“We wanted to give people something to sing along to, to dance along to, and to enjoy, which is something I think we all need now,” he adds. “I’m sure Michael will agree that it’s the best album we’ve made and it’s difficult to pick a favourite track because it’s so strong, but it was a no-brainer to put some Elvis songs on there.

“Having played in Vegas and been lucky enough to have the residence at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino which used to be the International where Elvis Presley played, we had to have Viva Las Vegas, which is the big song that he did about the city, but we also had American Trilogy, a classic gospel-type rousing anthem and one of my favourites.”

“The album’s all about celebrating the city, the incredible artists who’ve performed in Vegas, and the music,” says Michael Ball. “It’s pure showbiz, I love it. It’s… I don’t know, it’s just brilliant! It’s everything you could want and more.

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Together in Vegas is an homage to the entertainment capital of the worldTogether in Vegas is an homage to the entertainment capital of the world
Together in Vegas is an homage to the entertainment capital of the world

“When it came to picking tracks, everyone contributed to a massive list then Alf and I rejected all that and went ‘who are the artists we love?’” he adds. “That’s how we landed on the Sinatras and the Dean Martins and the Elvises and, from there, we looked at their songs and worked out what would work for us.

“Some songs also come from left-field: Alf found this great song called Ooh Las Vegas by Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons which I didn’t know but, when he played it to me, I said ‘that’s it, that’s fantastic,’” continues Michael. “After that we sit around a piano and quickly work out what we can add to songs, decide who’s doing what, and where the harmonies lie.

“Because it’s our fifth album together, the process is really simple. We have such an instinct for each other’s strengths and what’s going to work, so these are the songs which really got to us. I’m so glad we included The Gambler by Kenny Rogers because I love country music and he was one of my first introductions to the genre as a kid.”

The decision to record such iconic repertoire was an easy one for both singers. Coming off the back of the phenomenal success of their four previous albums ‘Together’, ‘Together Again’, ‘Back Together’, and ‘Together at Christmas’, which sold more than 1.5 million copies, it’s been a busy few years for the two Classic Brit Award-winning singers.

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Dynamic duo: Michael Ball (left) & Alfie BoeDynamic duo: Michael Ball (left) & Alfie Boe
Dynamic duo: Michael Ball (left) & Alfie Boe

In 2020, the double Olivier Award-winner Michael released the fastest-selling single of the year with his No.1 duet with the late Captain Tom Moore before becoming a published novelist after the release of his debut novel ‘The Empire’, the first in a series set in the world of theatre.

Meanwhile, the Tony Award-winning Alfie has cemented his reputation as Britain’s most popular tenor, not only performing at Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace and her 90th birthday celebrations at Windsor Castle, but also appearing on the latest series of Love Island, serenading winners Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu and Davide Sanclimenti.

Back doing what they love following their latest live tour this summer just gone, lockdown was nevertheless tough for them both.

“Oh God, it’s so special to be back performing again,” says Michael. “The frustration of lockdown was painful, so to be back was just amazing. The atmosphere at the summer shows was incredible and it’s only when you lose something that you realise just how much you need it. Performing was what both of us were put on this Earth to do.”

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Michael Ball and Alfie BoeMichael Ball and Alfie Boe
Michael Ball and Alfie Boe

Alfie agrees. “It was really frustrating to be sat at home when you wanted to be performing and singing your heart out - it’s soul-destroying,” he says. “But you can’t keep performers quiet for long, so we were on YouTube and Zoom to keep entertaining people and to keep things going not only for our own sakes but for audiences, too.

“People were missing out on stuff, so they wanted it back,” adds Alfie. “Lockdown was hard; I tried to keep as busy as I could and wrote a load of music myself, but it’s great to be back on stage. Once lockdown was over, theatres were full again straight away because people had been given that permission to get out and about again, which was fantastic to see.”

Heading to the Fylde Coast to unveil Together in Vegas in style, both men had nothing but warm words for the area.

“The audiences up in Blackpool are always brilliant and we’ve got a lot of fans up there, probably because of Alf!” says Michael. “We’ve had some of our best concerts in Blackpool - I remember performing at the Opera House on our first tour and, in the interval, we decided to finish the tour there too, so we put tickets up for sale and they sold out in the interval itself.

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“We’ve played Blackpool many times together and as solo artists, so we know there’s just a special atmosphere up there that’s unlike anywhere else in the UK,” he adds. “They know how to have a good time, that’s for sure.”

“Blackpool is a homecoming for me,” says Alfie. “When I do come back, it’s great to see familiar faces and to come back and show people what I’ve been up to alongside a mate who I get to show off, too! Performing with such a good friend is a joy at all times not only because our voices lend themselves to each other so well but because he’s got my back.

“Everyone needs to see the Fylde Coast at least once in their lives!”