This year I’ve decided to branch out my theatre habits. Anyone who knows me well will have no trouble telling you just how much I like musical theatre and I am very good at clocking up some serious theatre hours in the West End. However, I am less inclined go visit a play or other stagey event that differs from the jazz hands, tap breaks and power ballads that seem to bleed through my veins. Since moving to London in the last year I am trying to make a conscious effort to change that and branch out my theatre interests. It is so important that all of the arts are supported equally and I cannot contain my love to just one corner of the stage. So this weekend, I went to the PROMS!
Stagey or not, the BBC Proms are undeniably one of the biggest annual events of the London scene. Held at the historic Royal Albert Hall – a beautiful building we are privileged to have in the city and where everyone must visit at least once – the Proms run over the summer and dominate BBC Radio 3 and BBC 4 during these days and evenings. Although I certainly do have a very soft spot for the strings section of an orchestra (and by that I mean, give me any soundtrack and the second I hear a string strike up I find a reason to burst into tears) I’m not quite ready to turn up all suave and sophisticated for a posh night at the opera, much less foot the bill for the occasion when I’m not sure I have much more than I mild interest. However the BBC Proms really do have something for everyone. Namely, they tapped into my love of the 50s-60s and my love of soul music which I entirely blame the likes of Diana Ross, Luther Vandross and Lionel Richie for (yes, yes, excuse my horrible genre mixing and over generalising). It also just so happens that ever since seeing Memphis the Musical in London a couple of years ago, I am forever in love with that certain vibe and the bill for Prom 65 fit me to a tee.
Prom 65: 50 Years of Stax Records celebrated the iconic record label that is synonymous of Southern Soul music. Beverley Knight, Tom Jones, James Morrison, Ruby Turner, Sam Moore and more took to the stage alongside Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra to play a variety of hits including Otis Redding’s Sitting on the Dock of the Bay and Judy Clay and William Bells’s Private Number which Bell sang with Beverley Knight.
I was probably one of the youngest people in the 5000 or so seater concert hall (which is nothing new considering I’m somewhat of a pensioner with my music tastes) however it was one of the best nights I’ve ever had. Everyone was just having so much fun! They were dancing in the standing seats, they were dancing in the boxes (where I was) and the stalls and way up in the gods. It was just joyous. The featuring artists are some of the best this industry has ever seen and bloody hell did they deliver?! Legends effortless blended with newer talent and blew the roof off.
In spite of the £12.60 GLASS of wine (yep. I shed a tear.) the experience was like nothing I’ve had before. The atmosphere was electric. Whether it was just the shape of the room or the presence of so much soul and raw talent I don’t know, but it really was the perfect introduction into a 123 year old tradition that we should all be a part of. Next year I fully intend to build my way up to ‘full on’ classic proms and soak in the best of the arts in London and in this country.
If you want to catch up on Prom 65 or any of the Proms, the BBC website is the place to be.
Head over to my Instagram to see the photos I managed to get of the evening: