Arts: Friends, countrymen, lend me your ears

Proms: THE LAST NIGHT; BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AND CHORUS BBC SINGERS ROYAL ALBERT HALL

THERE ARE mad dogs and there are Englishmen, as we know from Noel Coward. And even the stone cold sober among us will swear to have spotted both at Saturday's Last Night of the Proms. Union Jack ears were all the rage this year: pricked-up ears for the men, a droopy beagle-like design for the ladies (what kind of malicious person thinks up these things?). The Albert Hall was awash with them; it was like a scene from Gremlins, only more surreal. A colleague I've known for years sat to my right. He, too, had sprouted Union Jack ears. Only he didn't appear to have noticed. Pen in hand, he diligently, doggedly (oops) went about the job in hand. Another colleague had brought his young son. He listened intently to the music (yes, I'm getting to the music) while daddy made paper aeroplanes from pages of the programme. It gets to you, does the Last Night. Where there's a flag you wave it; or wear it. Everybody sings "Land of Hope and Glory" and "Rule, Britannia!" and "Jerusalem" (yes, even critics) - and stands to do so. Not to do so brings instant and unceremonious ejection. One of the "new" pieces on this year's bill of fare was called "These Premises Are Alarmed". Alarming more like.

As was the sudden appearance of Terry Wogan, fresh from Hyde Park where 40,000 more mad dogs and Englishmen, with umbrellas, had gathered for Proms in the Park. Andrew Davis urged us (he can be so strict) to chant "Hello Park" before accepting a platinum disc to mark 1.2 million sales of "A Perfect Day". His yearly report, received in relative silence this year (the odd kazoo blast notwithstanding), chronicled the ever-growing success of the world's greatest music festival. We no longer need to put that in quotes.

Where else would Henry Wood rub shoulders with Hugh Wood (no less a showman on the evidence of his Variations for Orchestra)? Where else would Gershwin show songs nestle up to a contemporary premiere? Thomas Ades wrote These Premises Are Alarmed for the opening of Manchester's Bridgewater Hall. In four fantastic minutes, it's constantly reinventing itself. Ades seemingly never reproduces the same sound twice. He has a dazzling future. So did Gershwin, only he never lived to fulfil it. Enter Thomas Hampson, opera singer turned lounge singer and sometime American hunk to lend new meaning to familiar Ira Gershwin's lyrics. "Dozens of girls would storm up, I had to lock my door", he sang, while girls in several private boxes frantically indicated that their doors were wide open.

Earlier, the French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, his scarlet jacket and socks almost as natty as his playing, made Variation 18 of Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini sound just like a Gershwin tune. But even he, sartorially speaking, was no match for Hampson whose half Stars-and- Stripes, half Union Jack waistcoat was fitting attire for "Rule, Britannia!". She and Uncle Sam got along just fine.

Edward Seckerson

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam