The Royal Albert Hall has launched its 150th anniversary year with a 90-second tribute to live music entitled Your Room Will Be Ready, narrated by Mick Jagger, directed by BAFTA-nominee Tom Harper (The Aeronauts, Wild Rose), and scored by Academy Award-winning composer Steven Price (Gravity, Fury).
The short film, which focuses on the anticipation and energy of live events, pairs images of the empty venue with more than 40 pieces of archive event footage from 1933 to the present, accompanied by Sir Mick Jagger reading from For Friends Only by W.H. Auden.
Sir Mick Jagger said: “Without doubt the Royal Albert Hall is one of the greatest concert venues in the world and so I was delighted to be asked to read a short poem by W.H. Auden as part of this excellent short film by Tom Harper.
“I have some wonderful memories of performing there with the Stones in the 1960s 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.”
Director Tom Harper said: “”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 film includes legendary moments in music history, alongside appearances from artists, athletes and activists. It contains previously unseen and unreleased footage of Chris Cornell, Jimi Hendrix, and Creedence Clearwater Revival, as well as rarities including Diana Ross’ 1973 Hall debut, restored footage of Led Zeppelin’s now-legendary 1970 appearance, and Peter Whitehead’s film of The Rolling Stones’ 1966 headline show.
Other clips include BBC Archive footage of Shirley Bassey, George Michael and Luciano Pavarotti, recently rediscovered material from a 23-year-old Jacqueline du Pré’s 1968 concert for the people of Czechoslovakia, and Albert Einstein speaking out against the Nazis in 1933. Freddie Mercury’s appearance at Fashion Aid 1985 features, alongside an excerpt from D.A. Pennebaker’s 1968 Bob Dylan documentary, Dont Look Back.
The film also spotlights landmark moments from the last decade, including Adele’s record-breaking 2011 DVD – the highest-ever selling by a female artist – appearances by Stormzy and Wizkid, and the return of professional boxing to the Hall with Anthony Yarde’s 2019 fight.
Recorded at Mark Knopfler’s British Grove Studios, the film’s original score features the Tippett Quartet, celebrated flautist Eliza Marshall and BBC Symphony Orchestra principal trumpet Philip Cobb.
Composer Steven Price said: “It was a huge honour to reunite with Tom Harper to make this short film, which takes us from the empty corridors of the last months to the joy of the Hall at its glorious best. I can’t wait to be back, listening, laughing, celebrating and experiencing everything the Hall has to offer.”
Produced by Tomboy Films and Barnaby Spurrier, the film was shot by cinematographer George Steel (The Sandman , Peaky Blinders, Black Mirror) and edited by Mark Eckersley (The Crown, This is England ’86) and Sarah Bates (Vanity Fair, Luther).
Sir Mick performed at the Hall on four occasions with the Rolling Stones in the ‘60s – including one of only two shows where the band appeared on the same bill as The Beatles, in September 1963. Their 1966 show, with opening acts Ike & Tina Turner and The Yardbirds, culminated in a stage invasion and riot – captured by counterculture filmmaker Peter Whitehead in footage featured in this film.
The film is the first event of the Hall’s 150th anniversary celebrations, which will extend into 2022 and include major commissions from British artists, headline performances from music icons, and a series of showcases promoting the next generation of talent.
The Royal Albert Hall’s doors remain closed for the first time since the Blitz, with the charity losing £34m in income and cancelling more than 330 auditorium shows. The Hall will still be closed on its birthday, 29 March.