On Friday, the main hall was packed as the wonderful people from Albert’s Band came to give us a concert – a whistle-stop tour of all the genres, bands and iconic singers who have performed at the Royal Albert Hall over the years.
We kicked off with a classical Proms medley, magically combining Land of Hope and Glory with Jerusalem! Everyone was invited to sing along and the Albert’s guys praised us on our vocal prowess.
With classical music done we moved on to the riotous world of musicals, immersing ourselves in the (West Side) story of Tony and Maria, the Sharks and the Jets. This was especially exciting for the Marias in the audience as everyone trilled out their name: ‘I’ve just met a girl named ma-ri-AAAAAA!’ ‘You don’t get that often, being called Mike,’ quipped one Albert’s band member.
We all braced ourselves for a bit of raunchiness as it was time for the James Bond classic Diamonds are Forever by Shirley Bassey. We then moved from one British institution to another… the English Elvis, Cliff Richard! As well as their musical gifts Albert’s Band are also rather good at trivia, telling us that Cliff is the only act to have a number one hit in five consecutive decades. Cliff Richard has performed over 120 times in the Royal Albert Hall, second only to Eric Clapton. His first performance there was in 1959 – the year, incidentally, we started using postcodes on letters (told you they were good at trivia).
Despite the fact that none of us could claim to have had a hit single in ANY decade (let alone five on the trot) we all sang our hearts out to Summer Holiday, the catchy riff from the film of the same name. Much to our amusement the Albert’s guys informed us that the beach scenes in Summer Holiday were not actually filmed at the beach, but at West Ruislip lido. Exotic!
Then for a lady who ‘makes Cliff look like a part-timer’… Dame Vera Lynn, who last performed at the Royal Albert Hall two years ago aged 97. This is especially mind-boggling when you consider that her first performance there was in 1937!
Next we crooned along to Delilah by the dashing Tom Jones before moving on to Liverpool’s finest – who else but The Beatles! They first performed at RAH in 1963 – the year of the Great Train Robbery, JFK’s assassination and the first ever episode of Doctor Who. What a year. The atmosphere got quite euphoric as we all na-na-na’ed along to Hey Jude. We finished with Sinatra’s timeless and lovely tune In Other Words.
We’d like to thank Albert’s Band for their wonderful performance, excellent compèring and, of course, for the music.
ps. here’s a video of us na-na-na-ing to Hey Jude!