McCartney Times

The Royal Albert Hall

The Royal Albert Hall

The Royal Albert Hall

Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AP
Tel: +44 20-7589-821


No Brit worth his or her salt can ever admit that they have never been thrilled by the Last Night of The Proms, the yearly festival of music initiated by Sir Henry Wood. They were dubbed “Promenade Concerts” as the vast majority of the audience stood in the arena, whilst the more well heeled visitors sat in boxes on real chairs.

I had the pleasure of being there once only in my lifetime, along with my first husband, Eddie Williams, when we queued up for hours to get in to the cheapest area of the arena, (standing room only), and be a part of this magnificent spectacle, with the orchestra conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham, culminating in the singing of Jerusalem and Land of Hope And Glory, when we all waved our Union flags and sang our little lungs out.

I never hear it without being transported back to that very moment. It grieves me to learn that in 2020 it is being considered to remove the vocals from future performances, and just play the music to a silent audience, as it is considered as being offensive to some of the non-British people who have been fortunate enough to have made a home in England.

The Beatles made their first appearance there on April 18 1963, as part of a BBC taping of a show called The BBC Show Swinging Sound ‘63, featuring other acts including Rolf Harris, Kenny Lynch, Del Shannon and others. There was a story about them being asked to “play quietly” which John Lennon strongly objected to, and when he began arguing with the production people, someone quietly reminded him that this WAS the BBC and if you ruffled their feathers, they may not play your records, so presumably he calmed down.

Jane Asher was there that night, on an assignment for The Radio Times, and posed for photos

with the Beatles, every bit the Beatle fan.

Their second appearance was on 15th September 1963 at a show promoted by the Printing Trade, and this time they shared  the bill with The Rolling Stones.

Yoko and John performed there too, when Yoko recorded “AOS” on stage, accompanied by John Lennon on guitar, and the couple appeared on stage in a white bag to promote their ‘bagism’ period during a huge Christmas event staged by many of the alternative scene.

The Royal Albert Hall has certainly seen a cornucopia of art forms over the years. In the beginning, it cost one shilling to promenade. The last time I checked, it was 5 quid, and still worth every penny. Truly, an inspiring occasion. I still remember it with strong emotions.



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