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23 February 2021

Royal Albert Hall Celebrates 150 Years With Mick Jagger-narrated Video

GRANT ROONEY PREMIUM/Alamy Stock Photo
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The Royal Albert Hall has kicked off its birthday celebrations with a video of some of its most memorable moments from across the venue’s illustrious 150 years, narrated by the Rolling Stones front man, Mick Jagger.

The poignant video merges footage of the venue taken during its closure amidst the coronavirus pandemic, as well as clips of some of the iconic performances that have taken place there, including footage of Queen’s Freddie Mercury, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Oasis, Stormzy, Diana Ross and Mick Jagger himself performing with The Rolling Stones. There are also black-and-white clips of Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth II, while the video also highlights the sheer range of things that the Royal Albert Hall has played host to, including ballets, boxing matches, acrobatic performances and the annual BBC proms.

Mick Jagger reads a selection of lines from the first and sixth stanzas of W H Auden’s poem, For Friends Only, reciting the lines, “Empty and silent most of the year/This room awaits from you/Distance and duties divide us/But absence will not seem an evil/If it make our re-meeting/A real occasion. Come when you can:
Your room will be ready.”

Speaking about the venue, Jagger said: “I have some wonderful memories of performing there with the Stones in the 60s when once or twice it did get a bit wild, with enthusiastic fans joining us onstage and almost bringing the show to an abrupt end – but we soldiered on and had a great time.”

The film’s director, Tom Harper, added: “I have desperately missed live performance – there is something electric and fundamentally human about the shared experience of being in a room surrounded by other people, part of an audience. The Royal Albert Hall is a magnificent building even when it’s empty, but what makes it truly special is the connection it fosters through those shared experiences.

“That is what this film is about; not only a celebration of performances from the Hall’s glorious past, but also the sense of anticipation of some of the things to look forward to when we can be together again.”

The venue has been closed for the first time since World War Two, and has lost an estimated £34 million in income as a result of the cancellation of more than 330 shows last year. There were fears that it would go bust by its birthday, with Chief executive Craig Hassall saying the situation is “the most perilous the Hall has ever faced” in an exclusive interview with the I newspaper. It will remain closed for its 150th birthday on 29th March, but the video marks the first of a run of celebrations, which will be extended into 2022 and include commissions from British artists, headline performances by an array of musical icons and a series of showcases to promote the next generation of musical talent.

You can watch the video, entitled Your Room Will Be Ready, below.

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