I had thought that the gig was going to take place in a conference room, so I had images of somewhere warm, quite cosy and intimate. My thoughts of the Olympic Rings were that they would be ornamental, perhaps the size of a cushion. It was only a short while before each and every one of my expectations were proved totally wrong.
Me performing before the Rings were unveiled:
The day before the gig I travelled up to London as I had a session in a recording studio. We stayed in a small hotel just around the corner from St Pancras International Station, so we didn’t have far to travel on the day.
On the morning I woke up early, and before nine o’clock we were pacing up and down the streets with an ice-cool wind blowing through our coats. Despite having our trusty London map, we couldn’t find the exact location of the event, so we retreated to the warmth of a café and waited for further instructions.
A few exchanges of text messages later - and armed with advice to 'look for a big pillow in the roof!' - we returned to the station to look again.
Having found the 'pillow' we wondered how we had ever missed it in the first place. The notion that this was going to be a cosy gig was quickly disappearing, and hidden beneath the pillow were a set of giant Olympic Rings! Not at all how I had imagined...
Everyone was busy with the construction and setting and the cold chill was taking its toll, so we bid a hasty retreat and went for some lunch in a warm café.
Time passed quickly wandering through the lovely shops at St Pancras International Station, with a surprise meeting with Beth Rowley (one of my favourite singer-songwriter artists) who we found sipping coffee watching the Station Sessions. Beth has recently become involved with Teenage Rampage and had kindly offered to mentor me, but we met before anyone had time to introduce us. It wasn’t long before Matt Booth (founder of Teenage Rampage) and Abi Sinclair (former Teenage Rampage winner from The Orkid) turned up for a pre-gig chat.
It was then time to gather my guitars and outfit from the hotel, to be ready for our sound check. By now, the stage was busier than ever. The Parkour team had arrived and were warming up and constructing a huge frame for their free-running activities. There was an army of organisers and crew all intent on making sure that everything ran like clockwork. I was given my itinerary, which listed everything that would be happening down to every last detail, including the arrival of a Eurostar train!
Exactly to schedule, my sound check took place amidst the hubbub of all that was going on around me. The sound engineers gave me their full attention, and the system delivered a clear crisp amplification. My voice reverberated around the glass-roofed building and it was like singing in a stadium. The acoustics were breathtaking.
I left the sound check feeling excited about the evening. The final hours before my performance passed in a haze of getting changed, keeping warm, writing out my set-list and wrestling my way through the 30 children from the Convent school choir that had claimed our shared dressing room for their picnic spot!
In the final ten minutes news filtered through that my set list could be extended by one more song, so I had a final review of the order and then it was time to go. I was ushered to the side of the stage swathed in jackets draped over me to keep out the cold. With set-list in hand and adrenalin flowing, I was ready for my moment!
The people that had surrounded me before I climbed to the stage were all gone and had been replaced by an audience of photographers and smartly dressed guests, not to mention the bright stage lights.
I wrote all of the songs I played that night including 'Red Coat', 'The Woman' and a song was written just days before the Olympic Rings gig about a mixture of things, including the excitement of the week ahead!
The end of my set list, however, wasn't the end of the night, as the best was yet to come. Next on stage were Sebastian Coe (four-times Olympic medallist) and Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) who were about to reveal the Olympic Rings.
After a five-second countdown, the huge 'pillowcase' slipped down to reveal the massive sculptural Olympic Rings with their fabulous colours.
Despite the days of getting ready for the evening, nothing had quite prepared me for the feeling of being involved in something that was so big and so special. To be a part of the Olympic preparations and all the hope and excitement that comes with the Olympic Games was a great feeling.
A lot of people were involved in making my day work, and I would just like to add a massive thank you to Matt Booth (Organiser of Teenage Rampage), Beth Rowley for her support and friendship, Francesca Canty (LOCOG and appointed minder for the day), and everyone from the LOCOG Culture team who were a part of promoting the Inspire mark projects and making this event happen in the way that it did.
Alice is part of Teenage Rampage (www.teenagerampage.co.uk), a Cultural Olympiad project in the South West that nurtures young musicians, MCs, songwriters and stage managers, securing music industry professionals to mentor them.