The music improved things, though. I hadn't been especially engaged with most of the Last Night programme, but Beethoven's Choral Fantasia is a work scored for an unusual collection of resources - piano, orchestra, choral soloists and chorus - and is therefore not often performed. This also makes it arguably quite a good selection for the Last Night. I thought Hélène Grimaud did a fair but not brilliant job on the piano, and was accompanied by a lot of coughing all around the hall; the choral soloists were very good, though. Bryn Terfel was on form throughout the evening.
The second half was mixed. Funiculi, funiculà didn't really get the party atmosphere going, I thought; a Vaughan Williams song hardly did that either. Chris Hazell's medley of folk-song arrangements was certainly an improvement on the Bob Chilcott numbers which have inserted themselves into Henry Wood's Fantasia in recent years; particularly Loch Lomond and Molly Malone, with their choruses, got the audience going. Anna Meredith's froms [sic] wasn't at all bad; the orchestras in the parks playing in sync with the hall mostly worked. The military band in Hyde Park was clearly playing in a different key from the BBC SO in Henry Wood's Fanfares, but the other parks were more in tune. Amusingly, one of the fluffs in the hall (on the horn I think?) was echoed by a corresponding fluff in the park. Vaughan Williams' Sea Songs, which replaced Wood's this year, was better than I feared it might be, and had the virtue of not having a hornpipe which the audience (and their foghorns) would mutilate.
Then into more or less familiar territory. Norrington's speech was patchy, with some dry humour ("the first day of summer!"), but he struggled to impose himself and control the heckling. I thought we would overrun considerably, but in the end it wasn't too bad, and the train back had quite a few flags. Some people are raving about this season; it has been better than I first feared, but I don't think it has been a vintage one by any means.