Last Night: Diamond Jubilee Concert, Buckingham Palace, London
Knights to remember make jubilee party fit for a Queen
As parties go, it was fairly typical, if on a rather grander scale than your average celebration: a few drinks, a pie or two, a bit of a sing-song, and a bloody big bonfire. The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert certainly outdid the Golden Jubilee bash of 10 years back – in Olympic year, we're clearly punching above our weight, spectacle-wise – though there were a few recurring motifs.
Instead of Brian May doing his bargain-basement Hendrix impression atop Buckingham Palace, this time we had Madness doing a cheeky "Our House"; and the backbone of the show was again provided by a series of venerable Sixties knights, themselves now into their 70s.
In truth, it took a while to get going – and I'm not just talking about the interminable queuing beforehand. Robbie Williams gave the proceedings a decent kick-start, segueing smoothly from a guardsmen's fanfare into "Let Me Entertain You"; but the string of younger performers that followed rather struggled to keep up the momentum. Will.i.am also went for the military mode, but his red tunic made him look more like a toy soldier, as he was joined by Jessie J in a pair of unfeasibly high shoes. JLS darted up and down the stage steps, before concert organiser Gary Barlow duetted with Cheryl Cole.
It was the appearance of Sir Cliff Richard that set the tone for the rest of the evening, as one old stager after another came on to do a medley of their hits and elicit a whoop or two from the audience, climaxing with Paul McCartney's headlining stint.
The line-up was one that featured, in the classic huckster's terminology, "something for all the family" – all the family, that is, except the one member likely to break out creatively and extend the great British tradition of ground-breaking musical endeavour. It was, perhaps understandably, almost entirely a celebration of former glories, spiked with the meekest of identikit talents.
The evening was not without its notable moments, of course: Grace Jones successfully hula-hooping her way through "Slave to the Rhythm"; Kylie coming on like an S&M pearly queen ; and my own most terrifying moment, choosing to visit the facilities whilst Tom Jones was doing "Delilah", and thinking the grandstand was collapsing in on me as feet stamped their fanciful flamenco tattoo above me.
Elton John drew the most genuine outpouring of affection from the crowd with an ebullient "I'm Still Standing"; but even he was eclipsed by the outstanding performer on the night, Stevie Wonder, who captured the mood of the evening perfectly with "Isn't She Lovely" before adapting a majestic "Superstition" to incorporate lines celebrating the occasion. Not bad for a colonial cousin.
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