Sir Mick Jagger narrates a poignant short film to mark the Royal Albert Hall's 150th birthday
23 February 2021
The Rolling Stones frontman, 77, reads from WH Auden’s poem 'For Friends Only' in the 90-second clip titled 'Your Room Will Be Ready', which is an emotional watch for music lovers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as it shows both the legendary London venue empty and filled to the brim with fans.
The concert hall holds special memories for the 'Satisfaction' hitmakers, who have played the venue four times, including in September 1963, when they shared a bill with The Beatles.
Jagger commented: “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.
“I would like to take this opportunity to wish the Royal Albert Hall a very happy 150th birthday and look forward to the future, seeing and listening to many fantastic artists and musicians performing onstage at this iconic venue.’’
The Tom Harper-helmed clip also includes more than 40 pieces of concert archive footage dating back to 1933, some never-before-seen, including performances by the likes of Dame Shirley Bassey, Diana Ross, Noel Gallagher, the late George Michael, Freddie Mercury and Luciano Pavarotti, and Stormzy and Wizkid.
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 previously unseen footage includes clips of Creedence Clearwater Revival and the late Jimi Hendrix and Chris Cornell.
The film was recorded at Dire Straits legend Mark Knopfler’s British Grove Studios, and features an original score by Tippett Quartet, flautist Eliza Marshall and BBC Symphony Orchestra principal trumpet Philip Cobb.
Composer Steven Price added: “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.”