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#185 Kazoo Concert at the Royal Albert Hall

March 25, 2011

The Albert Hall, a building with a poshness rating equivalent to over 165 million Greggs.

We didn’t tell you! We’ve started doing random London Things. We literally number all the critic’s choices in Time Out, and pick a number out of a hat. Marc Almond, the last one, was a random choice.

Um. This wasn’t, though. We have no excuse.

This was Comic Relief’s highbrow concept – raise money by filling the Albert Hall with comedy- and music-loving punters to play kazoo together, and break the world record for mass-kazoo-playing too. Sitting comfortably in a box in the Grand Circle, we waved condescendingly to the poor proles in the standing-only cattle section below, haw-hawing for good measure.

Usually when you get this many posh people and a fox in one place, bugles are the traditional instrument. Just saying.

What a view. Maybe there’s nowhere in London that wallops you round the chops with proper Victorian pomp and circumstance as much as the Albert Hall. There’s nowhere as red, either. Most places have got rid of that stultifying, stuffy old 19th-century colour scheme, which makes interiors look like an abbatoir after an explosion, but the Albert Hall still glories in it. It’s basically a giant red nose on the face of London, after all.

The night was hosted by Radio 3’s Katie Derham and, uh, Basil Brush, which says it all really. Since this was Comic Relief, we weren’t expecting to actually enjoy ourselves, but most of the acts were lol-worthy, even if the orchestral music veered towards the Last-Night-of-the-Proms-y. Tim Vine was the standout performer, milking classical music for a whole new world of pundom. “Handel’s my favourite composer. He teamed up with Hinge and Bracket to form The Doors…”

A ragtag army of of celebs lined the choir section above the orchestra, including Mrs Brown’s future second husband, Hugh Bonneville. Bonneville couldn’t be seen from where we were. (Maybe this was because he knows I’ll punch him in the nardicles if I meet him for having stolen my wife in the future. “Muse aristocratically on THAT!” I’ll say. Yeah.) When it came to the actual record breaking, we couldn’t hear any tunes for the frantic, evil buzz of nearly 4000 kazoos. But somehow, a world record was achieved, all the world’s problems were solved (or something; I’d stopped listening) and Basil Brush had sung the Nightmare Song from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe in the Albert Hall. Which was, we realised, the most English thing we’d ever seen.

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