Royal Albert Hall celebrates 150th birthday with film narrated by Mick Jagger

Jimi Hendrix at The Royal Albert Hall
(Image credit: Royal Albert Hall)

Hot on the heels of the announcement that public indoor events are set to return to the UK this May, the Royal Albert Hall has released a 90-second clip, entitled Your Room Will Be Ready, to commemorate its 150th anniversary year. Indeed, the timing couldn’t be more apt for the arrival of a new short film celebrating live music.

Narrated by Mick Jagger and directed by Tom Harper, Your Room Will Be Ready features previously unseen archive footage of performances on the world-famous stage dating back to 1933. It's the first 'event' planned for the legendary venue's 150th-anniversary celebrations, which will now extend into 2022 and include commissions from British artists, headline musical performances and a series of showcases promoting the next generation of talent.

Your Room Will Be Ready comprises over 40 snippets of archive footage with shots of the empty auditorium and backstage spaces, soundtracked by Jagger reading from the poignant poem For Friends Only by W.H. Auden. The Royal Albert Hall shut its doors to the public on March 17th 2020 due to the global pandemic and has since lost £34m in income from the cancellation of more than 330 shows.

The video includes moments of both music and social history, with appearances from artists, athletes and activists. It contains unseen footage of Chris Cornell, Jimi Hendrix and Creedence Clearwater Revival, as well as rare shots of Diana Ross’ 1973 Hall debut, restored footage of Led Zeppelin’s 1970 appearance, and Peter Whitehead’s film of The Rolling Stones’ 1966 headline show.  

You’ll also see Albert Einstein speaking out against the Nazis in 1933, recently rediscovered material from a 23-year-old Jacqueline du Pré’s 1968 concert for the people of Czechoslovakia, and Freddie Mercury’s flamboyant appearance at Fashion Aid in 1985.

Speaking about his involvement in the project, Sir Mick Jagger said: “Without doubt the Royal Albert Hall is one of the greatest concert venues in the world.

“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.”

The original score accompanying the footage was composed by Steven Price, who won an Academy Award for his work on 2013’s Gravity, and was recorded at Mark Knopfler’s British Grove Studios.

Price has been able to draw upon his long personal experience of listening to musicians play the imposing space, saying: “It has been my massive good fortune to have enjoyed so many wonderful nights at the Royal Albert Hall. I once saw Neil Finn step away from the microphone to perform using only the acoustics of the hall itself, the entire place transfixed. I’ve seen poetry readings, Christmas carol concerts, and live performances of the film scores that inspired me to see if I could one day become a part of that world.

“In 2019 a piece of my own was played as part of a film music Prom and I couldn’t quite believe that the sound that I’d originally first heard in my head was now bouncing around those walls, walls that had, at some point in the past 150 years, reverberated to the sound of so many of my heroes. Somehow the hall manages to be both grand and intimate at the same time, and it seems to bring out the best in everyone who performs there.”

A full list of the featured archive footage can be found below.

Albert Einstein, 1933 – British Pathé

The Film Ball, 1933 – British Pathé

Chelsea Arts Club Ball, 1952 – British Pathé

Sir Winston Churchill, 1954 – British Pathé

HM The Queen, 1964 – British Pathé

Bob Dylan, 1965 – Don’t Look Back by D.A. Pennebaker 

The Rolling Stones, 1966 – Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London by Peter Whitehead.

Jacqueline du Pré, 1968 – ‘Concert in Support of the Brave People of Czechoslovakia’. BBC Archive

*Jimi Hendrix, 1969 – The Jimi Hendrix Experience: The Royal Albert Hall by Jerry Goldstein. 

Jethro Tull, 1969 – Swing In. Rockpalast / Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR)

Led Zeppelin, 1970. ‘Communication Breakdown’ from Led Zeppelin DVD. Filmed by Peter Whitehead, restored by Dick Carruthers and Jimmy Page 

*Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1970. Unreleased, restored footage. Craft Recordings. 

Shirley Bassey, 1972 – from the BBC Archive 

Diana Ross, 1973 – from the BBC Archive

Luciano Pavarotti, 1982 – from the BBC Archive

Freddie Mercury, 1985 – Fashion Aid 1985. Kevin Godley / Band Aid Trust. 

Evgeny Kissin, 1997 – The Albert Hall Encores. Christopher Nupen / Allegro Films

George Michael, 1999 – Concert for Linda. From the BBC Archive. 

Billy Preston, 2002 – Concert for George. David Leland / RadicalMedia.

Simon Rattle / Berliner Philharmoniker / BBC Proms, 2004. From the BBC Archive. 

The Killers, 2006. Live from the Royal Albert Hall. Dick Carruthers.

Sinfónica Simón Bolívar Orquesta / Gustavo Dudamel / BBC Proms, 2007. From the BBC Archive. 

Adele, 2011 – Live at the Royal Albert Hall. Paul Dugdale / Done & Dusted.

Florence + the Machine, 2012. Florence + the Machine: Live at the Royal Albert Hall. Richard Cohen / LoveLive TV

Foals, 2013 – Holy Fire: Live at the Royal Albert Hall. Dave Ma / Pulse Films

Joshua Bell / BBC Proms, 2013. From the BBC Archive. 

Mitsuko Uchida / BBC Proms, 2013. From the BBC Archive. 

Noel Gallagher and Damon Albarn, 2013 – from the Teenage Cancer Trust archive. 

Coldplay, 2014 – Ghost Stories Live. 

Eric Clapton, 2015 – Slowhand at 70 – Live at the Royal Albert Hall. Blue Leach / Eagle Rock.

Iggy Pop, 2016 – Post Pop Depression. Nick Wickham / Eagle Rock. 

*Chris Cornell, 2016 – unseen footage courtesy of the Chris Cornell Estate / Patriot Management.

Birmingham Royal Ballet, 2017 – The Nutcracker. Royal Albert Hall Archive. 

Songhoy Blues, 2017 – ‘Later…with Jools Holland 25 at the Royal Albert Hall’. BBC Archive. 

Dizzee Rascal, 2017 – ‘Later…with Jools Holland 25 at the Royal Albert Hall’. BBC Archive.

Foo Fighters, 2017 – ‘Later…with Jools Holland 25 at the Royal Albert Hall’. BBC Archive.

The Who, 2017 – Tommy – Live at the Royal Albert Hall. Chris Rule / Eagle Rock. 

Cirque du Soleil – OVO, 2018. Cirque du Soleil Archive

Bastille, 2018 – ‘Quarter Past Midnight (Live From Royal Albert Hall)

Wizkid, 2018 – ‘Wizkid: Lagos to London’

Anthony Yarde v Travis Reeves 2019

Stormzy, 2019 – ‘Global Citizen Awards’

 *denotes unseen or unreleased footage


30 of the best music videos of all time

10 of the best musical soundtracks to test your speakers

8 brilliant albums recorded in self-isolation

Mary is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi? and has over a decade of experience working as a sound engineer mixing live events, music and theatre. Her mixing credits include productions at The National Theatre and in the West End, as well as original musicals composed by Mark Knopfler, Tori Amos, Guy Chambers, Howard Goodall and Dan Gillespie Sells.