Absolutely one of the UK’s most iconic and prestigious buildings, the Royal Albert Hall is without doubt the venue we enjoy performing at the most. The atmosphere there is special. As I’ve said many times, you can feel the history of the building every time you step out onto that stage. The events of the past of course aren’t just limited to music. The Hall has hosted everything from political Rallies, Suffragette meetings, State receptions, costume balls, exhibitions, sporting events and even an indoor Marathon in 1909. This was a competition between the Italian Dorando Pietri and the Londoner C W Gardiner. The two competitors had to run 524 laps of auditorium which was covered in coconut matting for a £100 prize. Another remarkable event was the Titanic Memorial Concert on May 24th, 1912. The event, which took place 40 days after Titanic sank, was arranged to raise money for the families of the bandsmen who famously continued playing as the ship went down.
Lovingly referred to as ‘The Voice of Jupiter’ is the second largest organ in the United Kingdom with 9,997 pipes and 147 stops. It makes my little Hammond XK3-C and mini Leslie cabinet look a little pathetic. Nonetheless, we can make a pretty big sound with the help of a few other band mates and an extraordinary PA system.
Backstage at the Albert Hall hasn’t changed much in all the years we’ve been coming here yet every time we do, we have a different room for the band dressing room. When the renovations were made to the underground section of the building in 2011, catering was moved down to the lower level where there is now a full kitchen and dining area. It used to be a bit of a squeeze upstairs, especially when catering for the larger than usual family guest numbers. We found ourselves in one of the many backstage bars this time where John is pictured preparing the pre-show Ginger, Honey and Lemon tea drinks for all those who require.
Ear-man Gavin Tempany is the person with arguably the toughest gig in the room. Gavin gives the band their individual in-ear monitor mixes. Everyone has a unique mix which can change for every scene change. Some songs have multiple scene changes. Gavin also ‘rides’ levels in real time for band members should they need it. With eleven band members this is no easy task and we are always tweaking and improving things at every sound check. Gavin agreed to step in to replace our long-serving monitor guy, Kerry Lewis who is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment. We all wish Kerry the best and a speedy recovery.
Rarely seen anywhere else, never during a show, Dave Dixon is pictured at the helm of the FOH desk by my brother Dan who was at the show on the first night. Dan bought down a few more Orbitsound E30 Docks for the band and watched the show from there. He was mightily impressed as I suspected he would be.
Topping off both evenings, we enjoyed after-show drinks both nights with a multitude of guests, friends and families. It’s always quite a scene as there are just so many folks who want to say hi and chat, especially for Mark. It was lovely to see Hal Lindes and John Illsley the second night. Fun was had by all and with a day off to follow, some of the band actually had a few drinks!