The beautiful Philadelphia Academy of Music on South Broad Street hosted us today, built in 1855-57, it is the oldest opera house in the United States that is still used for its original purpose. Walking onto the stage reveals an impressive concert hall. It reminded us of a mini Royal Albert Hall in a lot of ways, a beautiful venue, well run and very clean. As Richard pointed out, some controversy exists regarding the Academy’s acoustics.
Although historically regarded for many decades as having excellent acoustics, some performers have been quoted as finding the Academy’s sound problematic. The cavernous spaces above the hall’s stage that allow for rapid set changes during an operatic performance tend to reduce resonance, giving the hall a dry acoustic. Eugene Ormandy, the famous Hungarian conductor who spent 44 years associated with the Philadelphia Orchestra actually refused to make recordings within the Academy. For us however, this sound absorption worked a treat. Our on stage sound was perfect and I assume the out front sound wasn’t too bad.
The day started with the ritualistic visit to the fabulous Park Hyatt gym with views across the city and a hotel departure time of 2:45 due to a very short flight down to Philly. Blake was there to greet us at Teterboro and flew us at an altitude of 8,000 feet the whole way down there. This was mildly infuriating as the cloud ceiling was at exactly that level but air traffic wouldn’t allow us to climb above the thin layer. Still, it wasn’t long before we approached Philadelphia airport, landed and were in limos to downtown. Our driver insisted on using the satnav in his large iPhone which was strange. We wondered if he didn’t know where he was going although my theory was that like many drivers, he’s so used to it that he can’t even go down the street without it. It was the same for the drive back to the airport after the show. Odd.
A fantastic Philly audience ensured we all had a great time onstage. The vibe was electric and there were some great moments during the show. Mark’s electric guitar failed during the play-out of Romeo which wasn’t an issue as Nigel took over and played a solo before Mr. Saggers switched amps and Mark was back. Smiles all round. It really is great to have Nigel along with us in so many ways, not least because he’s a monstrous player, arguably the best since the late great Michael Brecker – as Mark keeps saying every night.
Back on board the plane, Blake only managed 4,000 feet on the way back but this was fine as the cloud layer remained where it was this afternoon. Only just time for a quick drink and then it was back in the S Class for our drive back through the Lincoln tunnel to Manhattan. No words can describe how amazing the ride is in the back of the new S Class Mercedes. Maybe the word ‘perfect’?
Rear seat control ergonomics…
Today’s ‘Philly Soul’ Track of the Day is Love Train – The O’Jays (Recorded at Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound Studios in 1972, the house band MFSB provided the backing.)