Monday, March 11, 2013

Inside Abbey Road

A few weeks ago I wrote about the importance/justification of pilgrimages. On Saturday I indulged myself once again, this time my pilgrimage was centered around an event at one of music's most famous locations, Abbey Road Studios in London.

When Pip and I first moved to London, we paid a visit to the studio. As you cannot go inside, we did what everyone else does and took a photo walking across the crossing and reading the graffiti on the walls outside.

Taken at the end of 2011, I think we got a pretty good shot.

Late last year, Abbey Road began selling tickets to an event called 'Inside Abbey Road: The most famous studio in the world' and so I snapped up a ticket for £80.

This was only the second time they had opened up Studio 2 for such an event and so I am very lucky for the chance to go inside. The event was centered around a new book documenting the studios history and so I wasn't sure if it were going to be more of an advertorial or a tour.

I made a day trip to London and prior to the event caught up with my good friend Bradley in Carnaby Street. As we were catching up, I felt a huge nostalgia for the city I once called home. I was probably the only person smiling when riding the tube to reach St John's Wood.

At Abbey Road they had very tight security as I entered the building, we were only allowed to take photos in the studio itself. The hallways leading to Studio 2 were lined with photos of the many artists who have recorded there over the years. I entered Studio 2 and panned my eyes around the room which was filled with chairs, a stage and a mini museum containing a selection of historic studio equipment and instruments.

As you can imagine, it is quite hard to build a feeling of awe when the environment is filled with people and lecture gear. They had done a good job of laying out some equipment of historical significance and gave us some time to walk around, take photos and climb the staircase.

Me on the stairs.
We sat down to a lecture by the two authors of the Abbey Road book which was very good. They ran us through a history of the studio and played us a few clips and audio bytes which helped add context to the famous room in which we sat. The highlight for me was the 'Day in the life' recreation where one of the lecturers played the intro to the tune on the same piano that was used on the recording. The sound was amazing as it filled the space, a familiar sound that I know so well from the record reflecting off the walls in the very room where it was first played. They also invited three people up to play the final note of the song with the long sustain, this was met with a huge round of applause.

It was definitely worth the price and trip down to London for the day. It's not often you can enter this room, in fact it's extremely rare unless you spend £2000 a day to hire it out. This will be something I remember for the rest of my life. Below are a few more photos from the event which highlighted such an amazing day where I was back in London for the first time since our move to Manchester, I sort of miss that city...

The Beatles recorded the song 'A day in the life' on this piano.
This mixing console was used to record the 'Abbey Road' album by The Beatles.