Mysterious, elegant, romantic – the Palace Hotel, Oxford Road, built in Manchester red brick, shouting “I am here” with its iconic clock tower, is a place anyone who wants to appreciate Manchester should visit. At just after 6.00 p.m. on Saturday 11 October 2014 men in smart evening suits and ladies in lovely dresses abound and not all of them are associated with the event we’re supporting, though those guests are certainly dressed for a grand occasion.
“Rock back the clock and come and join us at this 50s themed four course dinner,” says DEBRA’s web site. Our role is to provide a musical background to the pre-dinner drinks.
We gather in the foyer and work out what the roman numerals high up on the wall are telling us. We remind ourselves that the building used to house the head office of the Refuge Assurance Company. What grand offices they had!
We find a spot to rehearse on a landing near to where the banquet will take place. Slightly bemused waiters, cooks and other workers pass by but seem to appreciate our efforts.
Twenty minutes later we make our way to the bar and sing for just over half an hour. Many of the guests are very appreciative. Soon, however, the chat in the bar becomes so loud that we can’t even hear each other so we make our way back to the foyer.
I’m convinced another group is singing or some rather good piped music is being played. But, no, the first of us to arrive, have already started singing Kiss the Girl, a song that we’ve performed twice this evening. The foyer of the Palace Hotel is a fantastic place to sing.
The guests make their way from bar to the dining hall and we sing for them, amongst others, Wonderful World, Blue Skies, Smile, Bring Him Home, and The Way We Were.
Afterwards, we relax with a drink in the rather sophisticated Tempus Bar. We mustn’t be too late going home, though- we have a four-hour workshop tomorrow, getting ready for the next gig.
DEBRA is the national charity working on behalf of people in the UK with the genetic skin blistering condition Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). We hope our efforts have helped them with the important work they do.