But now that we have put away the Union Jack tea-set ready for the next Royal event we can get down to the real business of this blog – the Diamond Jubilee Concert. Designed to showcase the best of British over the last 60 years, it was typically British; bathed in nostalgia for lost glories, a bizarre mixture of the quite brilliant and the terribly naff, yet warm hearted and a mini-triumph against all odds. Whilst you could quibble with the playlist, you can’t really argue with the likes of (Sirs) Cliff Richard, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Tom Jones…oh and Robbie Williams although quite what Stevie Wonder was doing there, I’m not sure even he knew but when he did an awesome ‘Superstition’, I was past caring. The stage, built around the Victoria Memorial in front of
was magnificent and the laser light projections onto the Palace itself were
breath-taking, especially during Madness’s stint on the roof. Buckingham Palace
I admit, I enjoyed it immensely but there was undoubtedly an elephant in the room, or on the stage, and that was voices. I’m afraid to say that when singers reach their sixties, seventies and beyond, the voice diminishes and Cliff, Elton, Paul and even Annie Lennox all struggled. Tom Jones fared better but even the great Shirley Bassey (and no one sings Bond themes like Shirl) has fallen victim to the ravages of time. Sad but inevitable.
Of course, if you’re going to present the Best of British, one attribute that must be present and correct is outrageous eccentricity and one or two performers stepped up to the plate in grand style. Annie Lennox and her entire band sported Angel Wings for her rendition of ‘There Must Be An Angel’ and honorary Brit, Kylie, did her hits medley clad in a sort of Pearly-Queen-on-Acid outfit. But no one could compete with Grace Jones who hula-hooped without a hitch through the entire performance of ‘Slave to the Rhythm’ despite her oiled body and slippery-looking rubber-leotard-type costume complete with what looked like a giant orchid on her head. Brilliant.
Another of my abiding memories of the evening will be when the TV cameras picked out the most Reverend Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in the crowd and he was singing along to McCartney’s ‘All My Lovin’’ – and knew all the words. So much for the Devil and best tunes. I’ve always thought that The Archbishop hides a secret musical past. His sermon at the Jubilee Thanksgiving Service at St Paul’s Cathedral bordered on that of an aging hippy, all give-up-your-possessions and peace and love, maan. Also, he lost no time adding fuel to my theory by referencing Ray Davies in his Sermon. According to the Archbishop, Davies’ use of the word ‘dedicated’ in his seminal 60s tune, ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’ is not strictly correct. I’ll bet Ray Davies, when he conceived the lyrics all those years ago, never envisaged having them picked apart by an Archbishop of Canterbury to a global audience at a Royal Event.
Still, makes you proud to be British.