Star billing might have gone to Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Robbie Williams at Monday's concert, but it was the women who really stole the show. What really lit up the stage was the sight of Grace Jones, 64, gyrating across it, irreverent and shameless, sassy and other-worldly, as she performed "Slave to the Rhythm". And Shirley Bassey, 75, belting out "Diamonds are Forever" with much more gusto now that she buys them with a pension than she ever did before.
It might be a rather underacknowledged age bracket to be in, but the somewhat tear-jerking (and not in a good way) Jubilee concert was a real celebration of women-over-a-certain-age. And that includes the Queen. We're so used to glamorous and poptastic Girl Power being manifested by Beyoncé running round in heels and wearing her own real thighs that we've forgotten the generation that really invented it.
Jones, hoola-hooping around the stage for four minutes in outlandish headgear and a razzed-up swimming costume, put the pretender Gaga to shame. (I should know: I've tried hoola-hooping and you only get that protracted motion if you're really engaging your core.) She's the very hieroglyph of fabulousness. And Bassey, resplendent in dazzling white, showcased a set of pipes that few up-and-coming popstrels could hope to rival.
These performances were all the more interesting, perhaps, coming on the heels of the finale to the BBC talent quest, The Voice, which highlighted a selection of self-important and ultimately forgettable faces and was won on Saturday by... nope, I've forgotten her name. But for a concept that was supposed to focus on talent rather than looks, there was a dearth of older female vocalists, despite their inherent kitschy and camp populist appeal.
But, of course, no one's about to knock either Jones or Bassey off their perches just yet. It's my dream that, during one or other of these blinding sets, Simon Cowell looks up from chewing his evil genius's Pen of Ambition, and a lightbulb switches itself on over his head. "A new senior songstress!" he muses. "A rich seam I've yet to mine! But who could do it? Who could win the hearts of the nation with both likeable charm and fearsome courage, while avoiding the muck-slingers and sex scandals?" And, as he thinks, the camera pans round from Jones and Bassey to the audience, to the royal box, past Kate and Camilla and Thingy and Horseface, settling at last on the noble visage of our tireless monarch...
"I've got it," purrs Cowell. "I'm going to make her a star."
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