On Friday 20th, December 2019 at 19:30h, the Royal Albert Hall celebrated a very special event on their traditional Christmas season, a show entitled ‘Royal Albert Hall Christmas Variety Show with Michael Giacchino & Friends’, their first Christmas Variety Show ever (read more).
Gorka Oteiza was there, and has written this brief review accompanied with pictures, for SoundTrackFest.
This article we’re bringing you about yesterday’s great show at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the ‘Royal Albert Hall Christmas Variety Show with Michael Giacchino & Friends’, is quite different from the usual ones we publish on SoundTrackFest, as it is not really a film/TV/videogame music-related article.
The only link it could have to the world of soundtracks is that composer Michael Giacchino was the leader of the night (together with Richard Kind who acted as host) and the concert had the participation of two other film music composers David Arnold (always funny and a pleasure to see live) and Daniel Pemberton (unexpected but very welcomed guest, who did a very funny appearance when the music of the movie Yesterday was played… although it was not his score the one that was performed).
The whole variety show had the music live by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra led mainly by Michael Giacchino, with the help of an assistant conductor, who took care of the orchestra when he has hosting the show. That orchestral music was complemented by the voices of the choir The Carollers that appeared on stage after the first piece and stayed there for the rest of the show. During the night we also had the fabulous performance of the string quartet Bond on a couple of pieces, the delightful voices of the four components of Vox Fortura, or the incredible solo voice of Grace Potter at the end of the concert, among others.
The following is the whole list of guests of the concert’s guests:
The whole show began with a story, centered around the figure of Richard Kind, who played the role of the “owner” of the place, as if the Royal Albert Hall was his mansion, and he just found that he had an audience and an orchestra ‘just sitting there’. With the help of Michael Giacchino, he made the orchestra ‘work’ and play music, while Lewis McLeod acted as his butler, opening the door to the many unexpected guests that appeared during the night. McLeod, funny as always, opened the door imitating many different characters, and making the audience laugh when he impersonated David Attenborough, Boris Johnson or Donald Trump, among many others.
The left side of the stage had two couches where Giacchino and Kind sat during the performances, and a red door was set on the right side of the stage, which was the main entrance for the unexpected guests, who rang the virtual doorbell from time to time. They came in looking for a party that was supposed to be on the upper floor, so after finding that they were in the wrong place, they left, but not before giving a brief performing, and thus becoming part of the story and of the night.
The list of pieces played was big and well selected, in a show divided in two 1-hour parts (you can see more details of the pieces performed in the following image).
The whole show was very well balanced, with a mix of orchestral music, choir, solo & quartet performances, ballet, juggling, the star appearance of Kermit the Frog talking and singing, and even some ‘theatre play’ by Andy Serkis and surprise guest Benedict Wong. The show was interactive at many points, asking for the accomplice clapping, mobile flashlights, or singing of the audience, using karaoke lyrics that were shown on the two big screens on both sides of the stage. Special mention to the only film score piece played in the whole concert, Michael Giacchino’s award-winning music for the movie Up.
The show ended at 22:00h, with all the guests on-stage and a rain of small white pieces of paper falling from the top of the theater, as if it was snowing, while the iconic theme ‘John Lennon & Yoko Ono – Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ was performed and sung by everyone, including all the audience.
A great way to end a great Christmas Variety night, setting the mood for what is coming for us in a few days! After the concert, some of the guests took time to give autographs, take pictures and even talk with the people that stood in the hall, including Michael Giacchino, David Arnold, and the funny and tender Kermit the Frog, who took time not only for the pictures, but also to chat with the people.
As the official Royal Albert Hall page stated, this was the first Christmas Variety Show ever performed at the venue. So… people at the Royal Albert Hall, let me tell you something … it was a wonderful show, with wonderful hosts, wonderful music, wonderful performances, and wonderful Christmas Spirit floating around! An experience that should be repeated EVERY year from now on!
Article by Gorka Oteiza