Last Thursday, I was working as a corporate event pianist & singer down in Gloucester. This was a team building corporate event for Nationwide. The plan was for some background music during dinner and then live karaoke around the piano. The team also had a traditional karaoke with larger screens set up for later…
Now, for a corporate event pianist & singer, the evening can be either quite formal or totally nuts! This event turned out to be Option 2. Hosts Maggie & Chris were keen to get the singing started right after dinner. They had prepared some carol sheets so that everybody could join in.
Once everyone was warmed up around the Frozen piano (you see what I did there?), the requests started coming in: Living On A Prayer, All You Need Is Love, Hey Jude, Build Me Up Buttercup, Delilah, American Pie, etc.
I never expected these diners to order so much cheese! Nobody wanted to know about “Do You Want To Build A Snowman“. We were straight into Livin’ On A Prayer! Brilliant!
Finally, after a great night, it was time to dismantle the piano and head home. Wish I had some better shots of the evening’s action… What’s that you say? Father Christmas might be bringing a GoPro? Oh, just 3 more sleeps… Merry Christmas everyone! x
Last Wednesday, I had my corporate event pianist hat on at Hope Street Hotel in Liverpool. I had never played in the Residents’ Lounge before so I called in earlier to check out the piano. It’s a beautiful Boston Steinway grand piano. What a treat!
For an event pianist Liverpool offers a whole host of opportunities. It’s a very popular place for businesses to hold their conferences and events. Our hotels and conference venues offer superb facilities and excellent service.
Liverpool’s Hope Street Hotel is indeed on Hope Street about 100 yards from the Philharmonic Theatre. It is a popular wedding venue . But on this occasion, the business function was held in the Residents’ Lounge downstairs.
The event was being held by a pharmaceuticals company from London. They wanted some background music during dinner and then: PARTY!
The dinner went well and after some laid back sets it was time to start this party! Two “very committed” singers from the company team soon came over to join me. They wanted to sing a bit of live karaoke on the spare mic.
In no time at all, they gave us Champagne Supernova, Perfect Day, Delilah, Daydream Believer… Bring out the biscuits ’cause here comes the cheese! Great night!
I was invited to perform as pianist singer at the Deloitte conference event at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel, London. This is a stunning hotel and venue on the South Bank near Westminster Bridge.
Due to the early set up and soundcheck on Wednesday, I had accommodation for two nights at the venue. So, I headed down with the piano in the van on Tuesday.
That evening, my Wimbledon cousin Paddy gave me a tour of Lambeth and Westminster. This included a quick pint at the Lord Clyde on Clenham Street – the shortest street in London in fact.
The next day, after a brisk walk out to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and a bite to eat, it was time to get to work. I set the piano up in the Thames Suite before a soundcheck with the guys from Metro Broadcast.
The backdrop of the River Thames and Westminster was absolutely stunning (see image).
Interesting idea: each table of guests had an iPad which enabled them to send their requests to the iPad I had on top of the piano. As a pianist singer, I see requests as a key part of what I do.
However, the inherent “risks” in the iPad request format soon became apparent: everything was in good taste but some requests were pretty left-field and others were just not feasible…
Still after a few sets, I had covered lots of requests with a fair bit of banter in between. I’d also made some new friends from “up north” with some Madchester classics – courtesy of Oasis and the Stone Roses.
So, another successful corporate event in the big smoke. Thanks to Liz, Vicky, Alex and the team for looking after me so well and for making everything run so smoothly. I hope to see you all again soon! x
I performed at the corporate rebranding event for Marco Pierre White’s New York Italian Restaurant last Thursday. The restaurant is situated inside the new Holiday Inn Express in Hoylake, Wirral. Hoylake has become even more popular following the Open Golf tournament at Royal Liverpool which is less than a mile away. With this rebranding event, The Holiday Inn Express now also boasts a fine dining restaurant on site.
Many local business owners and personalities were in attendance on the night. The organisers even arranged to have a big yellow NYC taxi parked by the front door for this New York themed event. I set up my piano just inside the open bi-folding doors to perform for guests in the patio area outside.
There was of course a rumour that Marco Pierre White himself would be making an appearance. I know he’s a busy man. Despite his absence, the kitchen was sending out some delicious canapés. The bar staff, meanwhile, were gliding past with a myriad of colourful cocktails. The level of service was very impressive. I had my eye on the calamari… Only time would tell.
With the help of GM Matt Knight, restaurant manager Aldo Bove and all the team, the evening was a great success. With such an elegant setting, delicious canapés and no end of cocktails, the event went on until the early hours, far beyond what was expected. I chatted with some local guests who are friends of the family. They vowed to come back soon to have some dinner inside the restaurant. In the meantime, canapés on the patio in the summer air would have to suffice.
What a great night! And as if things couldn’t get any better, I didn’t have to dismantle the piano. Yay! I left everything there ready to perform at Kerri and Ian’s wedding the following day. Happy days!
Liverpool Playhouse celebrated 100 years of theatre yesterday with events throughout the day and a gala performance of “The Ladykillers” in the evening.
I set up as lounge pianist for attending guests at the drinks reception and again later at the aftershow party where I added some vocals…
“Ladykillers” was absolutely brilliant – very funny, a clever set and great performances by all actors. Everybody loved it and so there was a real atmosphere of celebration the aftershow party. I have to take my hat off to Flock of Seagulls Frank for an inspired singalong and thank Rowena, Amy, Sarah and the rest of the team for making it such a memorable night. Congratulations! And here’s to the next hundred…!!
Corporate event pianist & singer at Radisson Edwardian, Manchester
Corporate Event Pianist & Singer:
Last Friday, I was performing as corporate event pianist and singer at the Radisson in Manchester. I hadn’t been to the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel before. What a stunning venue! The event was hosted by Engage, the Super League sponsors, ahead of the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford.
The very entertaining Adrian Tierney-Jones started proceedings with a talk on beers and accompaniments. This went down very well! I then played my first background set while guests chatted and had a drink. After a while, the team from Engage took the floor with a review of their time as sponsors. To end the formalities, the sports writers and journalists thanked Engage for their positive contribution during their years of sponsorship.
As my second set was in full swing, it was time for a singalong… A few “guest singers” wanted to do some Rat Pack numbers. Before I knew it, there was a queue for the spare mic and things had started to get a bit competitive. Some guests were determined to “show ’em how it’s done!” This was the perfect scenario for me. I always have a ton of lyrics sheets to hand ready for a singalong. With plenty of good-hearted banter, many of the guests gave us at least one song. A few guests in particular gave us way more… This singing business is a team sport too you know!
In summary, everybody had a fantastic night and it was a fun way for Engage to bring this chapter to a close. Now, of course, there was just the small matter of a Super League Grand Final to be decided…
As it turned out, nobody could have foreseen the drama that was to follow at Old Trafford on Saturday as Leeds secured a memorable victory…
I had great fun at a corporate event for QVC held at West Tower Exclusive Venue in Aughton on Wednesday. It was to pay tribute to QVC staff who had been working for the company for over 5 years. There were many members who had been there for much longer too so staff loyalty is obviously something that is appreciated and encouraged there.
The men and women at the dinner all had a great evening with some more than keen to join in the singing!! Congratulations to QVC for devolping such a great relationship with staff and thank you West Tower for putting on another great event!
On Friday, I performed at the annual dinner of the IIL at the Crowne Plaza, Liverpool. I was actually performing post dinner in the bar area with my white baby grand piano essentially providing background music white guests chatted and networked, taking a few requests and enjoying the occasional chat with passing guests.
Pianist Vocalist Manchester United Players’ Awards
Pianist Vocalist Manchester United Players’ Awards 2006:
Blimey. I might have to mention this in my CV… Could this be my best corporate gig ever?
It was my absolute honour to be invited to perform at the Man Utd Players’ Awards dinner last Wednesday. I travelled to Old Trafford on the Tuesday to set up my white piano and PA before grabbing some lunch in the Red Café. The burger looked great but I couldn’t stop looking at all the pictures of past footballing legends. I had watched these players on the telly when I growing up.
My excitement was building already as I imagined all the former players I might get to see at the awards. I was told Rooney was on crutches. My boots were packed… just in case.
I played piano early on as the guests came into the suite. Amongst them, I recognised familiar faces of players I had only seen on the telly in their heyday. I couldn’t wait to tell my Manchester cousin Pete! He’d had trials at a few clubs and always dreamed of playing for United. If Rooney was unavailable for selection, this could be his big chance!
The big entrance:
I’d been playing for quite a while I got the signal to stop. The MC announced to the room the arrival of Sir Alex Ferguson and the Manchester United team. They walked in to a massive fanfare of applause. This was a big deal. On the night, Wayne Rooney received the Sir Matt Busby Player of The Year Award. Cristiano Ronaldo received the Goal of The Year Award and Ryan Giggs was named Players’ Player.
Pianist vocalist Manchester United with dancers
After the awards ceremony, Sir Alex and the team left and the party began in earnest. At one point, former captain Martin Buchan came over to the piano to say how much he was enjoying my playing. Wow! It turns out he is a keen keyboard player. We had quite a natter about songs that he played, Brown Eyed Girl, which I’d just played and just how much we both enjoyed playing. So, there I was chatting with a footballing great about our shared passion for playing piano and singing a few tunes. As you do…
Most of the other guests were sat chatting happily at the tables. However, one young couple came over during my dance sets and started ballroom dancing while I was playing Sway. A great cha cha cha. They were really good! One of their friends took this photo and captured the moment beautifully. They were really quick too!
I confess: I didn’t mention that I had my boots with me. I didn’t put in a good word for Pete either. The time just never seemed right. In my defence, I think I played for about 5 hours! Who else has had a debut at Old Trafford and stayed on for 5 hours? I could have carried on too!
Anyway, it really was an honour to perform in front of so many greats of the beautiful game. I just hope Pete will understand. Mind you, at 48 now he might be past his best…