When we got ready for the Arundel concert, I wondered two things: would it be as good as the concerts we had just done on our tour of the Far East, and where is Arundel anyway?
The second bit I found out straight away. Arundel is in West Sussex. And there is a great story about Arundel. During World War II a pilot from the German Air Force (the Luftwaffe) was shot down over Arundel. He was put to work on a farm. The farmer liked the pilot a lot, and the pilot liked him. They worked together really well, and when the war was over the pilot stayed on the farm, got married and took over the farm. That German pilot married into my Nan's family! I had no idea I had some relatives in Arundel.
But that was a long time ago. For us, coming off a big tour, it was all too present. The day of the concert came and although I was wondering how it would go, I had a whole pepperoni pizza for lunch. It would take much more wondering than that to put me off my food! I met up with the other Libera boys and we got on the coach to Arundel.
It took a long time to get to Arundel from South London, over two hours. Then I got my first look at Arundel Cathedral. It was incredibly, amazingly huge! So spacious and vast! Could Libera fill this space with our music? It had fantastic acoustics, really echoing. The sound here should be phenomenal.
We had tea in the parish hall just before the concert. I say "hall", but this was a room half the size of the cathedral. We had jam and bread, and lemon cakes and grapes, which I had a lot of. All we could think about was the concert. And our tea. But we simply ate our tea and talked about the concert. Japan and South Korea had seen us playing to big audiences. What would a home audience make of us? This was our first concert here since our pre-tour concert at St John's in Upper Norwood. Had we got any better?
We had another look at the Cathedral. It really was enormous. Then the people started arriving. Now, Arundel Cathedral, I may have mentioned, was big. But so was the crowd that came! The Cathedral was packed. We went in through a secret passage, having got into our robes in the hall. We were all very excited. Some of us were nervous. We all passed around our pre-concert two words: "Good luck!"
The concert started. As I have said, the echo effect was amazing. I love it when we sing. We all know what each other should be doing, and when we all sing our parts and move into position you can just tell that it is working. There was only one small hiccup. A tiny one. During our concert we move about the stage a lot, and have to be in certain positions for certain songs. For one song I just knew I had to be in one part of the stage, but when I looked up everyone else was in the wrong position! Now, either all the other boys had made a mistake, and I was right, or… Hmm. When the music started and our fantastic lights came on I realised that not only were all the other boys wrong, but so was the lighting and the music… Or maybe it was me. Yes, it was me! I quickly moved into the position the song demanded, startling Michael H with my sudden appearance next to him. It did not matter and we sang the song.
The reaction from the audience was incredible! We were given standing ovations! When we are onstage we have too much to think about, but afterwards we can talk about what works. I think our lighting is brilliant and really sets the mood, and our choreography means we do more than just stand and sing. But for me the thing I will always remember about Arundel Cathedral was the sound. It was brilliant the way it bounced around. We really did fill that cathedral. And the people watching us really did fill it with their applause.
Arundel was a big show for us and we all loved it! Thank you to all the people who came. We were so thrilled to play there, it was great!
After the show we did the usual Libera thing – getting back to South London. We are often quieter on the way back, but we still laugh. We got back at 1 a.m. and of course I was thinking about food again! Being in Libera you get to sing with your best friends in the most fantastic places to brilliant audiences. Arundel Cathedral was something I shall never forget. Thanks again to everyone who came and made it such a special night. What a welcome home!