My post in the "unReal Allan Holdsworth" group on Facebook -
On this day ten years ago, 7th May 2007, Allan played at the Royal Festival Hall in London, surely the biggest and most prestigious gig he ever did as a headliner.
It was sold out, having been well-promoted by Future Publishing through their magazines Guitarist and Guitar Techniques as part of their London International Guitar Festival. I went down early to hang out in the foyer and listen to some of the free gigs there, including Milton Mermikides and a good blues-rock Stevie Ray Vaughan-style outfit called The Bees. On a whim I bought a ticket for the Q & A event with Allan and Alan Pasqua hosted by John Wheatcroft from Guitar Techniques magazine, even then the venue was about a quarter full so there were about 300 of us there.
The main benefit of going to the Q & A session was they had brought the first copies of the Live At Yoshi's DVD, but they only brought about a hundred copies so they had sold out before the gig itself! I bought my copy off Jimmy Haslip then went to get it signed purely so I could have a word with Allan. I went to a (relatively posh) school in Bradford, Bradford Grammar School, so I asked him where in Bradford he went to school. His eyes lit up, and with a glint he said "Ah, Drummond Lane - a ROUGH school."
At the gig itself, they walked on to thunderous applause from the packed house - it was the first time in years that Allan had done a show in the UK - and for a moment I thought we were going to give him a standing ovation before he had played a note. He raised his hand in front of his eyes a backed away in a comedy gesture of terror :-)
I didn't recognise the first tune and it was quite slow and ponderous - it was probably Chad Wackerman's "The Fifth" - and there was just a hint of restlessness from the audience of fear that we were going to be bored. Then Jimmy Haslip took the first solo and absolutely lit the place up, everybody relaxed and the rest of the show was a corker. Somebody said a few days ago that the sound mix was poor, it wasn't for me but I had booked a front row seat right in front of Allan so I got the full benefit of his Hughes & Kettner 2x12 combos and 4x12 cabs. His sound was dark and creamy, so it may not have mixed well further back.
That, (along with the first time I saw Phil Keaggy, in 1991, with no advance knowledge of how amazing he was going to be), will always be for me the standout gig of my life.