Saturday the 9th of September 2000 was the Last Night of the Proms, and of course Post Researchers attended to report this important cultural event as it happened.
Our researchers attended the Hyde Park, London, Last Proms Festival. On the day, our h2g2 Researchers met outside the h2g2 Towers building, near the Strand, in London. After everyone... Bluebottle, Peregrin, Roasted Amoeba and Mr Cynic met, as well as Elisabeth, a friend of Roasted Amoeba's who sadly is not with us on the Guide... had met, it was off to the Proms! Other researchers, The Fish and Insane Endeavour had hoped to attend, but for various reasons could not. It was even rumoured that Anna herself may attend, but alas... Oh well, I'd better get on with the report.
After surviving the roadworks outside the Towers, our party went to Covent Garden underground station, hearing street entertainers playing the theme from 'The Godfather'... and as this was Covent Garden, the entertainers were actually in tune, and very impressive. Sadly, Covent Garden Underground was closed, so we were forced to walk to Leicester Square.
After a Picadilly Line ride to Hyde Park Corner, we made our pilgrimage to the entrance of the part of the Park which had been sectioned off, and sat down in the queue for about 45 minutes, observing the flag sellers, umbrella wavers and hat wearers. Not to mention champagne bottle balloons.
Finally we went through the cattle-market entrance and legged it to near the front to see the stage and huge television screens. This is where we made our picnic. Rumours that the bubble-shaped stage was in fact created by Joanna during our last h2g2 Meet-up in Hyde Park sadly are false. It was about this time that it rained briefly, which caused a Mexican Wave of umbrellas opening throughtout the crowd. There were various reports of how many people were in Hyde Park... some said 20,000, others 40,000. Either way, it was a lot.
Having set up comfortably on our groundsheet, noting where the toilets and ice-cream van was, and having got out food and drinks, the Introduction began at 5:30pm. This was hosted by Ed Steward, a BBC Radio 2 presenter. Sadly, his jokes were terrible. He was also obsessed with swapping his jacket with other performers, regardless of whether they fitted. The Introduction started with the BBC Big Band, followed by Georgie Fame. For me, the most memorable performance in this part of the day was Georgie Fame singing 'I Said Yeh-Yeh'...
The Highlight of the Introduction was undoubtably Bjorn Again, an Abba tribute band. They soon got the crowd on their feet, waving, jumping, dancing and singing. Rumours that Bluebottle's jumping almost crashed a jumbo jet flying over head are exaggerated... Yet Bjorn Again deserve every praise... they re-created the 70s atmosphere and Abba-dabbadoo perfectly.
At 7:30, the first part of the actual Proms started, hosted this time by Terry Wogan. Performing in this half were Angela Gheorghiu and Willard White... two amazing opera singers with frankly unbelievable voices. Even saying:
'I'll feel completely inadequate in the shower for the rest of my life'
seems to belittle their ability. I'm afraid I do not have the words to describe their performances. Angela Gheorghiu, with her dress that can only have come out of a Bridal Shop, and Willard White singing... you had to be there.
Other highlights were Julian Lloyd Webber, brother of Andrew Lloyd Webber, playing 'Air on a G String', one of the most relaxing tunes ever composed, which was very dreamlike and moving. The Royal Choral Society and the BBC Concert Orchestra were both very impressive. The Chieftains, an Irish folk band, were great performers... the crowd loved them, especially when some River-Dance dancers appeared as if from no-where on the stage... the cheering was infectious.
Yet the real magical aura began at 9:40. This was when broadcasting came live from the Royal Albert Hall. This started with Elgar's 'Pomp and Circumstance' and the singing of 'Land of Hope And Glory'. Seeing 20-40,000 people waving Union Flags, Welsh Dragons, Flags of St. George,... literally everyone had a flag in their hand, waving and singing... and being part of a choir that size is an experience you never forget.
The night continued with the joyful and laughter-crying Vaughn William's 'Fantasia on Sea-Shanties', which to hear is just pure, bouncy fun. How can anyone have heard them without their eyes shining and souls singing? The climax was, as always, the singing of 'Rule Britannia'. The build-up of 'Thine Be The Glory', such a moving song itself, led into it so beautifully. Words cannot describe how joyful it was, it was just pure exhilaration.
Of course the night was not just about how musicians and composers of all nations can move people; whether you are alone at home, in an open mood, or in a large crowd. The night also had plenty of humourous occasions. The best by far was during the Chieftain's performance, when one of the musician's mobile phones rang actually in the middle of one of their songs. There was also Bluebottle's insistance on waving a postcard with the Union Flag on that he was sending to The Fish, so that if the Fish were to wave it at home whilst whistling 'Rule Britannia' he would still feel a part of the night's events, even though he was not there. Oh, and not to mention the antics of people who had consumed a little much to drink...
All in all, it was a night to remember!
Remember, if you have witnessed an event live... no matter what and no matter where... write us all a Report for the Post!
The First Night of the PromsProms in the Park - BBC Website