Sunday, July 23, I had the pleasure of attending my first Alfio concert. For those of you not familiar with Alfio, he is Italian, but is from Australia, and currently lives in New York. He has also had concerts for PBS, like Il Volo. He plays the piano, as well as sings and has this truly amazing tenor voice, reminiscent of a cross between Gianluca, Piero, and Josh Groban, while throwing in a little Elvis, although still having a sound of his own! Last night’s concert was a tribute to Sinatra, Bocelli, and Elvis.
The concert started shortly after 6pm and lasted until about 8pm, with no break. He had with him a small band, consisting of a trumpeter, two guitar players, a “one-man” drummer with some electronic effects, and a keyboard player (no piano).
He fooled us a bit walking on stage – “Here’s Alfio….” And we are looking, waiting, and watching this shadow walk across the back of the stage from one side to the next and then he suddenly appears before us – we kind of thought he got lost for a second!
The theatre, a small locale in Canton, MI, called the Village Theatre, was a cozy venue, seating a max number of 400 persons. We had lovely 2nd row seats to the right of the stage, thanks to Donna, who told us about the concert, and we sat right next to the Rugiero family, of Antonio’s, who were one of the many sponsors of this event. They also hosted the afterglow/meet & greet, but I will get to that later!
On with the show….Alfio came out nicely dressed in a black suit, with white shirt, black tie, and black patent and leather shoes. A very classy look. He opened the show with the song we are so used to hearing at the end of the Il Volo concerts of O Sole Mio! He started out, almost a capella, with the classic Italian words to the Neapolitan song, with just a light accompaniment from the keyboards. He then burst into the “Elvis” version of It’s Now or Never. After that he sang Il Mundo and then Granada – both in English! I never knew there were English words to the songs. It was kind of nice to know what the songs meant for a change. 😊 So, for the first several songs, we felt like we were at a mini Il Volo concert. Except for the English of course! His voice was impeccable and strong with a very slight edge to it. He chatted a bit with the audience between songs and asked where people were from – “anyone from New York, etc.” A couple walked in late and he teased them a bit, asking them why they were late and telling them the songs they had missed, which were about five at that point. Reminded me a bit of when Piero did that at the Fox Detroit concert a few years ago and many were late because of the traffic and parking. But they sat down and were soon enjoying themselves. I believe they drove all the way from Virginia! Wow!
Everything he sang was incredible. When he sang Il Mundo, he actually played the keyboards while he was singing. He did that with Hallelujah, as well. I really wish I could have snagged the playlist, but he snatched everything up before he left the stage! Guess he just wanted to be tidy! Maybe if I ask him real nice, he’ll send me the list of songs he sang. I actually thought about writing each one down as he sang it, but didn’t want to dig in my bag for pen and paper. So, if you’ll bear with me a bit, I will name off as many as I can remember! Those above, of course, then there were, in no particular order, My Way, Caruso, Suspicious Minds (awesome), an impromptu Cryin’ by Roy Orbison, an original song by him called I love you like a song (I think?), Unchained Melody, one of Bocelli’s solos, which I cannot remember, Surrender (part Italian and then the “Elvis” version – Ignazio and Piero could give him a few pointers on that one, if you catch my drift? 😊), New York, New York, and several others I cannot remember right now. He also sang that really fun song that Piero and Ignazio had fun singing at the Bambar in Taormina a few months ago, that several persons were able to video and I think the “Fabulous 3” were there in person – the one that goes “Oh ma-ma….” He had the whole audience clapping through the song. It was full energy and spunk and lots of fun. There was one song that he sang that this one lady kept begging him to sing on his FaceBook page. Apparently, all of her begging worked, and she was also in the audience. He pointed her out and knew her name! The song was one that Ignazio sang very early in his career as a solo, it was Il Mare Camo Della Sera. OMG!! That lady was so right! It was so incredibly perfect (and I think my favorite of the evening!). So sorry, Ignazio… Of course, Alfio’s voice has a few decades on yours when you sang it…. But trust me, it was truly amazing!
I was pretty mesmerized at times, even with the proverbial chills and goosebumps (it was a bit chilly in there though 🙂 ) and a few tears of emotion on certain songs.
Even though he is a bit older than our three, I’m not sure which, but either Gianluca had his mannerisms, or vice versa. It was kind of cute watching him sing and “seeing” Gianluca as he sang, as they used many of the same gestures.
When chatting with the audience, he mentioned social media – Instagram and Facebook and invited us to “like” and “follow” him. Haven’t gotten to Facebook yet, but I did click to follow him on Instagram last night. Early this morning, he was following me back!! He was on his way back to New York this morning. I have to say I was a bit tickled!! He is certainly prompt!
I think I mentioned he also writes his own songs and he sang one of them for us. It was a slow, romantic song and quite beautiful. He was saying how he sings “other people’s songs” because that is what the audience wants to hear. Until you are well-known or have a lot of play on the radio, that is probably one of the few ways you will gain fans and a quick following, kind of like Il Volo. He asked us if we liked his song, and of course we said yes. Then he asked if we would like to hear his original songs one day, all of his, in a concert, and of course we clapped loudly!
Alfio, just a word or two on “cover” songs, if I may speak metaphorically a bit…. Covers can be good. They are familiar and cozy, and give comfort and solace when you are feeling sad and lonely. They wrap you up in their familiarity and hug you tight, as you share their melodious warmth with the one you love. So, of course, no artist wants to sing cover songs the rest of their lives (I promise never to ask you to sing Danny Boy…); they want to sing their own music and want to be known for their own music. Even right now, we are clamoring for the guys to write music of their own, like Ignazio did a few years ago. Even if you are singing someone else’s “hit” or “song,” you should think of it as an honor, as well as a challenge. Some songs are such major hits for people that others don’t even dare to try to imitate or try to make it their own. How many people do you know dare to sing a Streisand hit? So, if you do that and do it well, it will become your own. 😊
All-in-all, I don’t believe he got as many standing ovations as he deserved. We all stood after “Oh ma-ma” and after the last song, which was My Way, but that was it. His fans were pretty laid back compared to Il Volo.
On to the afterglow! When we got out of the theatre, we were lucky. The thunderstorm had just passed and the skies were blue and sunny again, but with puddles everywhere! We made our way back to Antonio’s and into the meet & greet room. We were greeted with a glass of prosecco and I quickly spotted a table for seven. We claimed our table, as there were not many, and waited for the others. Donna and Sharon arrived shortly and got in line for the food.
Antonio’s had a beautiful spread of an antipasto salad, consisting of roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, and tomatoes, on a bed of romaine, with Italian seasonings/dressing on it. After that, we were greeted with broccolini, calamari, pesto pasta, chicken marsala, meatballs and gnocchi with Mama Rita’s special sauce – which by the way, Alfio raved about! There was also a beautiful tray of fruit, their famous bread, and a tray full of mini cannoli. On the side were bottles and bottles of red and white wine. Along with the glorious food was some live music and serenading. When we walked in they were playing El Reloj! Another Il Volo song! Oddly, a good portion of the songs that were sung were Spanish. Of course, they were beautiful, and many were sung by Il Volo, but I thought there would be more Italian…later on we did hear Volare and Il Mundo.
About a half hour or so later, Alfio arrived. He was sweet and charming and very down to earth. He went table to table (I think that was how our “Fan Faire” was supposed to be orchestrated?), chatted, took selfies with everyone, and signed the CDs that were in our gift bags. Both Mama Rita and Tony were on hand, along with the rest of the Rugiero’s, to mingle with the crowd. It was quite the beautiful event and everyone had a lovely time and we were so glad we went. Thank you so much to Donna, our lovely Il Volo pal, for suggesting we attend this.
I hope you enjoyed your evening (or morning) with Alfio as much as we did. I know it’s not Il Volo, but I hope you can find just a small place in your heart to appreciate Alfio. Maybe a right or left ventricle, or just even a tiny capillary, because he is certainly worth it. After last night, he definitely carved out a small place in my heart!
Ciao, Alfio! Grazie mille!
p.s. I uploaded our photo below to Instagram this morning and Alfio gave it a like! 😊
I found a small clip on YouTube of some of the highlights from his PBS special last year…