Today, Wembley Stadium, London (0181-900 1234/ 0171-420 1000) Angela LewisReuse content
Remember when kd lang (left) teamed up with a deceased Roy Orbison for a duet of "Crying", or when Natalie Cole crooned along with her long- departed dad Nat for a new version of "Unforgettable"? Well, if you loved that, Songs & Visions will be right up your street. It probably ranks as the most bizarre musical of 1997. Rod Stewart, Jon Bon Jovi, Seal, kd lang, Mary J Blige, Toni Braxton, Steve Winwood, Robert Palmer and Chaka Khan are the ones carrying the weight of 40 years of pop history throughout this Wembley show. Between them, they will warble through pop and rock classics, with all sorts of big-budget paraphernalia - a 100-strong choir, symphony orchestra and a horn section. But this is no simple cover-versions homage to the great and good of yesteryear. The promotional material promises, that "the voices of new international stars will harmonise with their heroes." This means kd lang could team up with Patsy Cline, Seal with Otis Redding... the possibilities are endless, and slightly spooky. And what are the odds that this glitzy waltz through the classics of four decades will be ballad-heavy, as if punk never happened? The folk who will do best are the female vocalists. Mary J Blige can give an emotional wallop to any Motown classic. kd lang probably won't offer up any of the silky songs from her current cover versions album, Drag, but she has the swoopy, sophisticated charisma to make any song her own. This Wembley bash, expected to get 500 million viewers in 60 countries, will be very flash. But at heart, what people from Texas to India will see is something that merely amounts to the best karaoke session in the world, probably.