After 18 long months it’s hard to put into words the emotion we’ve felt as live music, with full capacity crowds, has returned to the Palace.
If you were here for John Grant, or the six gigs in seven nights from Dermot Kennedy, Gerry Cinnamon, Tom Grennan and Yung Blud, thank you! We’re so glad to have celebrated these epic nights with you.
Photographer Joshua Atkins was here too, to capture what the return of live music has meant to some of the 400 professionals who work to make a gig at the Palace happen (see below).
As a charity, these events are essential for our survival too. Every £1 we raise from a gig is reinvested back into the venue, so we can continue to be here to host live music, care for the historic Palace, beautiful park and deliver our entertainment and creative learning programmes for you all. And, remember, we’ve got plenty more amazing live nights ahead…
SIMON FELL, ALEXANDRA PALACE DIRECTOR OF EVENT OPERATIONS
For the past 18 months not being able to walk out of my office into a venue buzzing with 10,000 people all about to see their favourite bands has been heart-breaking. I’ve really missed that energy you get from a crowd. Their excitement, anticipation and the euphoria that fills the venue when lights go down and the main act walk on stage. There have been so many challenges to get things up and running again and the whole team have been absolutely amazing getting things back to normal. It’s as if we never went away now.
CAROLE WILLIAMS, TECHNICIAN
It’s exciting to have live music back. Working on events feels like coming back home in a way, like putting a puzzle back together. You have to remember a lot of things, that in normal times you’d do naturally, out of habit.
Because of the pandemic, so many professionals have had to leave the industry. It’s the only thing I feel qualified to do, and I love it, so it’s a relief to be back.
ZEALAH ANSTEY, BARTENDER (PHOENIX BAR & KITCHEN)
I worked on the Dermot Kennedy shows and Tom Grennan’s performance. They’ve had a great atmosphere, there’s a real buzz about the place.
I spent the lockdowns training to be an art teacher, so it’s a different feeling to be back working. Everyone seems so happy to be back together, the shifts have flown by.
ZED MAJOR, HEAD OF FACILTIES (PLUS ZIGGY THE DOG):
Having people and live music back in the building feels amazing. Even though we‘ve had various events and projects in the Palace in the last 18 months, it has felt very empty without the public.
We’ve all missed the anticipation, the atmosphere and the smiles on people’s faces on an amazing event night.
For me, building professions are among the unsung heroes of the events world. Without engineers, building surveyors, electricians, riggers and technicians there would be no event. We are an often unseen part of the jigsaw. During the height of the pandemic we at the Palace were lucky to be able to continue carrying out essential maintenance and improvement works. However, many of our friends and colleagues across the industry fell through the gaps and have found themselves in a very difficult position.
I can’t wait to start going to gigs again myself. All the ones I’d booked have had to be cancelled. So, after a year and a half, I’m looking forward to seeing the Dub Pistols at Islington Assembly Hall.
Tom performed to a sold out Great Hall on Thursday, 30 September
It was AMAZING! The biggest show of my career. What a night, what a moment! There’s no better feeling than that connection in a live show, that energy is so important for me as an artist, and for my mental health. Performing at Alexandra Palace brought that up to a whole new level.
I’ve missed seeing my fans, hearing their stories, and how my music has helped them. I can finally give something back and tell them how they’ve inspired me. It’s a deep connection, that bond with my fans is so vital.
The buzz of a live show is irreplaceable, there’s nothing like it. I’m so grateful to my team for making that a reality again on this tour. It’s been like a big family reunion. We’re back, bigger than ever, and I can’t wait for what’s next.
GABRIELA CALAVER, GENERAL OPERATOR, CLEANING TEAM
It’s amazing to see people back in the venue for live music. And it’s great to be back here working with my team.
Because it’s been quieter we had to go and work in other places, like Marylebone train station, but being here feels a bit more like home.
ANDIE STEWART, SECURITY
I’m one of the lucky ones, I’ve never really left the Palace during the pandemic. I’ve been working on the socially distanced events we’ve run here, whether that’s theatre, streamed music or book launches. But it’s definitely good to have the crowds back.
KATRINA McMULLEN, MEDIC
Each artist and gig needs support in a different way, so it’s interesting to see what every event holds. It’s great to be back working on nights like this. The industry needs a boost after the last 18 months.
STUART HENDERSON, MEDIC
Our job is making sure everyone feels safe and hopefully we contribute to people feeling that they are in a comfortable space. We enjoy what we do too, we wouldn’t be here otherwise!
RYAN WILLIAMS, BARTENDER (BACKSTAGE BAR)
I’ve worked in the backstage bar for the first few gigs. It’s been a lot of fun, with the DJ going and a few celebrities back here. It’s got a great atmosphere.
I’ve been working at the Palace for three years, but not been here in over 12 months. I like to be busy so have been itching to work.
SUSANNA PULLEN, STEAK IT EASY, FESTIVAL VILLAGE
I’ve worked on The Terrace here at the Palace throughout the pandemic, but live music in the Great Hall is a level up. I love it. Seeing people back, enjoying themselves, plus listening to the music. There’s nothing like it.
GRAEME TIMMS, HEAD OF HEALTH AND SAFETY
Live music is such a big part of Alexandra Palace’s history, it’s been sorely missed.
There’s over 400 people working on a Great Hall gig at the Palace. That includes jobs from bar staff to electricians, security and medical teams, through to the touring crew and the provider of temporary toilets. Add 10,000 visitors and there’s a lot to plan for.
A gig is always a busy place behind the scenes. For Tom Grennan’s performance we started setting up from 7am and finished at 3am the next morning. In the following four hours the venue is cleaned and reset ahead of Yungblud and his team rolling in at 7am the next morning to do it all over again!
It’s still amazing to experience the atmosphere of a live gig. Just before a headline artist comes on stage, there’s usually a small hush as the house support lights get turned off. Being in a room with 10,000 other people where you can literally hear a pin drop is just incredible.
GRANT PREST, HEAD OF SECURITY
JENNY EVANS, SECURITY SUPERVISER
Jenny: I enjoy this part of the job, meeting people and helping visitors. Security can obviously get serious, but this is something to enjoy. I like going to gigs myself, so it’s great to have them back.
We know we’re not quite there yet, but it does feel like a slice of normality to have people back and enjoying themselves.
TRYNITY SILK, VISITOR SERVICES ASSISTANT
It’s wonderful to be back! The best part is seeing everyone’s faces as they come into the venue for the first time. I’m so happy to be back with my team too. What a dream!
GIANCARLO MARGARIDO, ENGINEERING SUPERVISOR
My team make sure all the services – water, electricity, heating – inside the Palace are working for a 10,000 capacity gig. The bulk of our work is done before the event, but we are also here on stand-by should anything go wrong during the night.
During the pandemic we have stayed busy, improving the Palace’s historic infrastructure. It is not always work that can be easily seen when walking around, but we are very proud of what we have achieved and we have been able to reopen in a much better condition than before.
We all know how hard the live events industry has been hit by the pandemic and it is great to see that things are moving again. The Palace is a happier place with live music and crowds.
Not everyone realises the number of people that it takes to enable a band or artist to put on their show. I have a very deep respect for our events team. They are able to organise all the different teams – hundreds of professionals – so that everybody ends up working as one big team.
Alexandra Palace is the People’s Palace – run by a charity for the benefit of everyone. Recent times have been tough, and our very survival has been at stake. Whatever the future holds, we are working harder than ever to be here for you now and long into the future. Click here to find out how you can support. Thank you x