I sat beside a big cannon on Monday. This was not my intention, as I rather like having ear-drums.
However, Richard and I arrived late at the Echo Arena due to a heavy traffic jam through Liverpool, and someone else had whizzed our seats. Rather than struggle to find a staff member in the dark, and consequently miss even more of Raymond Gubbay’s Classical Spectacular, we simply helped ourselves to seats elsewhere. Hence our proximity to the cannon.
We weren’t the only late arrivals. At least 200 people entered the Arena after us. And we didn’t notice the canon until we’d sat down. How do you miss a whopping great canon? Two, even. It’s a fair question. We were too busy muttering about the traffic jam and uncomfortable seats with stupid plastic arm-rests which are either set too high so your elbow starts aching or else they poke you in the back if you push them into their vertical position.
And we were watching the light show. Hmm, Hawkwind could teach their techie team a thing or two, methinks.
That’s when we noticed the cannons set at either side of the stage. The sign propped against “ours” should have been a clue. It did read, “Caution! Keep off! Explosives!” or something similar. And then a little group of soldiers in antique costumes arrived, with bucket-shaped hats, blue tail-coats and muskets.
At least, I think they might have been muskets. What do I know about such things? All I can tell you is that they poured stuff down the pointy end to load them, and that when they were fired they were loud and smelled of sulphur and pencil lead.
Ah, the 1812 overture… It ends with cannon booms. It really did, several times over, even. Plus pyro, plus laser lights, plus (possibly) muskets firing away cheerfully – and what a grand din it was too, until a voice broke through the merriment to order an immediate evacuation of the entire building. The poor orchestra was still sawing away for all they were worth, Mr Gubbay determinedly waving his conductor’s baton and looking round seemingly in bewilderment at the mass exodus taking place behind him.
Such is life!