I feel like I’ve been around for years. The fact is I have, so it is with some surprise then, that I’ve never been to the Royal Albert Hall and that’s why I was looking forward to this years final so much. The place is legendary and I wasn’t going to be disappointed. A day trip with my wife Sarah and our friends Steve & Liz made for a great outing. We’ve all been banding together at Leicestershire Co-op for about eight or nine years now, so we can drag each other out to almost any banding event without the need for great discussion. I said I wasn’t going to be disappointed and I wasn’t. Great bands, great music and a reasonable crowd to support our finest competition. Hats off to Kapitol Promotions for their excellent organisation. It meant that all 20 bands had finished their performances within six hours. Excellent! Now, in my humble opinion, here’s what should have happened next. The adjudicators, paid for no doubt by the bandsmen in the hall (either directly, or indirectly), should have been released from their enclosure, spoken a few words to the interested audience and presented the champion bands with their respective prizes. Job done! But alas, no. We had to listen to an hour or more of entertainment by two brass groups. As if six hours wasn’t long enough, the process is actually drawn out a full two hours, resulting in a presentation, void of atmosphere and interest, as the restless audience and bandsmen waited to make their exit. So, here’s what I think: - a) Why no adjudicators speeches? It’s not for them to say much, but just a comment on the last six hours would be good. Did they enjoy it? Was there a clear winner? Did anyone struggle to get to grips with the test? Easy enough questions to answer and ones which the audience probably knew anyway. We just like to hear them. It’s part of the build up and part of the atmosphere. (Just as an aside, I was at the third section results in Harrogate recently, when it was suggested there would be no comment from the adjudicators. The reaction said it all, and well done to the Guy’s for speaking up.) b) Why the concert? Good as it probably was, it’s a strain for the band and a strain for the audience. Do we really need it? c) Why drag the band representatives on stage? A band should be together, anticipating the final outcome. As it was, I think most of them had gone home……certainly sounded like it!! And it will give longer time to sound the fanfare (also fell a bit flat). So all in all, the end of the day was a bit of a let down. Still enjoyed it though. But I’d like to leave you with a couple of thoughts for discussion. During the various speeches, it was highlighted that this was the largest audience in the Albert Hall for some time and maybe we are returning to the old days when the hall was full. Well, I have an idea for that. The Albert hall used to host all National Championship finalists, regardless of the section in which they played. I would predict that if the Hall hosted the entire competition, that it would, indeed, be full. Be full of the grass roots bandsmen that aspired and never made it, those that made it then retired, the children that might make it and those who just enjoy it. They should all be together, wherever it is, enjoying the moments when the Champion Band of Great Britain is crowned.