On 27 November 1982 Elton John performed the inaugural concert at the Royal Concert Hall and to celebrate its 40th anniversary they opened up their doors today (12 November 2022) for a free open day which included backstage tours, music performances and an exhibition on the construction of the building and past performers. It proved very popular, more so than I think the venue was expecting. I got there at just after 10am and joined an already long queue and it took about 40 minutes or so to snake through the building to the start of the tour but it was very good natured, I got chatting to strangers as we waited and the staff were lovely and very organised.
The tour included the opportunity to stand on the stage and hear how the acoustics at the concert hall are considered some of the best in the world aided by the canopy suspended above the stage that can be raised or lowered depending on the requirements of the acts. I was trying to remember what the first thing I saw on this stage was, I have a vague memory of a classical concert that my dad took me to, though the last thing I went to here was a performance by a Russian ballet company of Cinderella earlier this year.
From here we went backstage – I liked the collection of stickers by visiting performers – and then by the stage door foyer area and to the dressing rooms which you’ll agree don’t look much to write home about!
It was thanks to the then Labour Council that we got such a wonderful venue in the city – the Tories were against the idea. (Same old, same old). It cost around £12 million to build which today would be around £50 million.
The final part of the tour and the area of the concert hall that even those that work there don’t often get to experience was the lighting area up in the roof space. The lighting is controlled from the floor below this, but it’s here that the lights are set up before a performance.
The tour also gave me a chance to take some photos of the view across the city from inside – normally when I attend events here I don’t have the time to be taking photos.
The small exhibition space included this lovely model of the building (and the Theatre Royal to the left) and some interesting photos of the construction as well as a selection of posters from previous performers.
A once in the lifetime chance to go behind the scenes of one of my favourite city buildings, it was a very well run opportunity and a lovely way to celebrate the venue. You can find more photos here.