By 7:15pm the majority of the Albert Hall seats were occupied, as instructed by a note sent to everybody with their tickets, to await the arrival of rock royalty. No, not our boys, we would have to wait a bit longer for that, but the arrival of the Prince’s Trust patron HRH The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
Following the National Anthem a Dame, Edna that is, took to the stage to welcome everybody and introduce the first act of the evening, Status Quo who kicked tonight’s concert off in much the same way as Live Aid 25 years ago with Rocking All Over The World and Whatever You Want.
With the hall rocking away the first half of the show started to resemble a throwback to the 80s with Alison Moyet, Phil Collins and Mike and the Mechanics performing such songs as You Can’t Hurry Love, Vienna and All You Need Is A Miracle ably supported by the house band for the evening led by Midge Ure, Mark King and Jamie Cullum.
As the second half started Jools Holland took over from Jamie at the piano to perform songs with Ruby Turner and Sir Tom Jones before handing the stage over to the stunning Paloma Faith who lowered the age demographic and performed 2 tracks including her huge hit New York.Then after a solid 20 minutes from Eric Clapton it was time to get the audience rocking again with a different kind of royality.
Yes, it was time. Roger walked out straight to the front of stage with tambourine in hand to kick off the Queen set with These Are The Days Of Our Lives supported on his left by Brian and behind on Roger’s drum kit his son Rufus. It was then Brian’s turn to take centre stage with the Red Special while Roger replaced Rufus on sticks for a great version of Last Horizon.
This was followed by probably the most surprising track of the entire evening. With Brian introducing Tom Chaplin from Keane I thought it must be Under Presssure, but no Tom dived straight into the distinctive opening lines of It’s A Hard Life and pulled off the best performance of the evening that also earned Brian, Roger and himself the best audience reaction of the night. I don’t think I was the only Queen Fan in the hall tonight.
The surprises did not stop there though, next up on vocals Midge Ure with Seven Seas of Rhye. Could this evening get any better? Two tracks that have not been played live by Brian and Roger for many years, although not quite as long as 1973 as Brian mentioned in his introduction.
The evening was then bought to a rousing close with Tom back on vocals, Brian and Roger in their rightful places on Red Special and Drums playing We Will Rock You, with all the evening’s other performers and entire audience providing the now familiar stomp, stomp, claps. A great evening for a great charity. 20 years since the last Prince’s Trust Rock Gala hopefully it won’t be another 20 years until they take to the stage once more.
Thanks to Peter Williams