Mick Jagger-narrated Royal Albert Hall video is a poignant reminder of what we're missing

Royal Albert Hall interior
(Image credit: Royal Albert Hall)

Sir Mick Jagger has narrated a short film to celebrate the 150th birthday of London's iconic Royal Albert Hall. 

In the film, the Rolling Stones frontman recites a section of W.H. Auden's For Friends Only, the words taking on an added poignancy as lockdown continues to bite and the grand old building stands silent.

Distance and duties divide us
But absence will not seem an evil
If it make our re-meeting
A real occasion. Come when you can:
Your room will be ready

The accompanying footage features highlights from performances and events held at the Hall over the decades, including the Stones, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Freddie Mercury, Eric Clapton, Iggy Pop, Chris Cornell, Foo Fighters, The Who and many more.

“Without doubt the Royal Albert Hall is one of the greatest concert venues in the world," says Jagger. "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.’’

Harper, known for his work on The Aeronauts, Wild Rose, This Is England '86 and Peaky Blinders, says, "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 Royal Albert Hall is held in trust and managed by a registered charity. It's lost an estimated £34,000,000 in income as a result of lockdown, and has cancelled over 300 shows. 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.