herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Rock royalty

McCartney and company rock out

Bank holiday nights are usually nightmares for TV reviewers. Unless you count soaps and films you probably already own on DVD, there's never anything worth watching.

Nothing. Nada. Nyet. Zilch. Zero.

For a period last night there was less than nothing on. At 7.15, precisely 15 minutes before the start of the only game in TV town -- the Diamond Jubilee gig organised by Gary Barlow -- and with fish fingers half-cooked under the grill (fish finger sandwiches, mmm, the food of the gods), we had a power cut.

It lasted until nearly 8.10, by which time the cigarettes, the stress, the frantic, frustrating calls to the ESB's information number, the profanity-laden rants and the lack of fish fingers had probably shaved several months off my life.

On calm reflection, it's possible the fickle (fish) finger of fate had done me a favour.

I bypassed all the "let's get it out of the way before the good stuff comes on" filler.

According to a useful live UK newspaper blog I could access on my smartphone (which is nonetheless still not smart enough to let me watch BBC TV live), I missed the clown Robbie Williams gurning at a line of stoical Queen's guards; will.i.am, Jessie J and JLS (why don't these people have proper names?); Cliff Richard oozing a six-minute medley of his hits, and Gary Barlow duetting with Cheryl Cole.

The automation meets auto-tune.

Well, I missed MOST of it, anyway.

Normal service resumed in time to suffer boring bedsit balladeer Ed Sheeran wilting in front of a huge crowd; the mad Grace Jones (how did she sneak past security?) doing bizarre things with a hula-hoop; Annie Lennox in a pair of angel's wings, and opera singer Alfie Boe singing the Cornetto song -- come on, I'm not a total Philistine; I know it's called O Sole Mio -- and then segueing into Elvis's rejigged version, It's Now Or Never.

One piece of advice: opera singers should never, ever, under any circumstances try to sing anything other than opera. It just DOESN'T WORK.

It's embarrassing, like seeing your granny doing Steppenwolf's Born To Be Wild at a wedding.

Still, at least I got there earlier than Her Maj. She arrived at 8.55, minus consort Prince Philip, who's in hospital having a foreigner removed from his nose (nah, it's a kidney infection), just after Tom Jones had finished Mama Told Me (Not To Come) and Delilah.

Rumour has it the Queen had been scouring Buckingham Palace's 240 bedrooms to find the earplugs she discreetly used during the Golden Jubilee concert 10 years ago.

"You've just missed Tom Jones," teased Lenny Henry, one of a small army of comedians eager to get their names on the New Year's Honours List.

"You only live across the road!".

Best gag of the night, that, which gives you some indication, I hope, of what the worst ones were like.

Another piece of advice: comedians should avoid this kind of thing, because they just die on their arses.

If you're Jimmy Carr and you can't tell jokes about fat chicks, what's the point?

We were into the final hour and things finally began to liven up when Madness appeared for a clever revamp of the brilliant Our House on the roof of Buckingham Palace, which was lit up with a dazzling laser display.

After that, it was a trio of rock royalty -- Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney, all in cracking form -- who ignited the crowd as the fireworks lit up the sky.

Okay, so Stevie Wonder seemed to think it was the Queen's birthday and Macca will persist with playing Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, one of the worst Beatles songs ever, but to see these three on stage, one after another, almost made the rest of the evening worth enduring.

Well, except for Peter Kay (ugh!) dressed as a Beefeater. To the Tower with him!



the diamond jubilee concert HHHII

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