The concert for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee : live review

we mean it ma'am etc.

we mean it ma'am etc.

Live Aid may have saved the odd life here and there, but its largest footprint on the world is one of evil on a scale previously unthinkable. That evil is in the form of the huge multi-artist open air concert. The concert for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee follows this jaded format, complete with full cast of the usual suspects including the faux modest self-righteous organiser in the form of Gary Barlow. Flavour of the month modern acts are wheeled out alongside botox addled ”˜legends’ all looking sincere and meaningful about the chosen topic; the environment, Diana, a loose and vague concept of war or in this case ”“ the Queen. There’s something compulsive about car crash viewing like this, and sometimes we all have to do things we wouldn’t normally in the name of research ”“ just ask Chris Langham.

The Windsor’s themselves look uneasy having to be seen to let ones hair down under public scrutiny, and the forced laughter is on auto-cue to the non-punchlines of the various presenters. Nobody’s sure if Lenny Henry has ever made anyone laugh in his entire life, Rob Brydon probably should be better than this, and Rolf Harris (looking like Colonel Sanders at a National Front rally) is very little without his wobbleboard. Or Churchill the car dog. At these kind of events, decorum and rationale are thrown out the window, even Rolf Harris’ bizarre assertion of the Queen being “a living testament to the power of kindness” raises no eyebrows when even the word “living” should be held up to question judging from the motionless Liz Windsor tonight. The crowd footage is startling, put it on mute and it could be stock footage of North Korea. With more flags. Speaking of flags, Macca’s union jack Hohner viola bass should never have happened and screams of self parody. Did someone say self parody? Cue Peter Kay.

There’s an array of artists from every decade of the Queen’s 60 year reign, and despite the absence of several big hitters like U2, Coldplay and Adele, the line up does impress in all the ways one expects. Liking Annie Lennox is like voting Tory, nobody knows anybody who does and definitely nobody ever ever does. It’s the same phenomena of everyone liking to laugh at Wings, yet ”˜Mull of Kintyre’ is the UK’s biggest selling non-charity single. Indeed, McCartney is pulled out here tonight – John Lennon sent his MBE back. Paul McCartney played outside Buckingham Palace. Where Dirk McQuickly could have gone for principle (”˜Give Ireland Back to the Irish’) or a ridiculous curveball (Too much to choose from), he chooses the deflatingly predictable. You could set your watch by the fireworks in ”˜Live and Let Die’. ”˜Magical Mystery Tour’ doesn’t feel right outside Buckingham Palace, and the real magical mystery is how McCartney’s hair mysteriously the exact same shade as it was when he recorded ”˜Revolver’. If tonight doesn’t prove a successful advert for the Monarchy then its definitely good promotion for hair product, why does Elton John have a full head of hair? And none of it grey? Speaking of promotion, it’s nice to see the BBC pull out all three judges from reality flop The Voice. At some point in the set it goes from a Jubilee celebration to a birthday party; her from ”˜A View to a Kill’ mid-hula hoop wishes the Queen a happy birthday then later on Stevie Wonder and Will.I.Am (It Was Really Nothing) dedicate a bemusing ”˜Happy Birthday’ to the Dear Leader. The appearance of Jools Holland is like seeing a friend at a rubbish party, you almost want this man from the utopia of ”˜Later!…’ to put his arm around you and tell you that everything will all be alright by Tuesday night, but it doesn’t seem so. Particularly when the boogie-woogie piano begins. Jools’ appearance is at least one of the more interesting moments of the night, along with a token piano interlude whilst Sir Cliff Richard, his pink suit and very brown plastic face is defrosted ready for a public airing of ”˜Wired For Sound’, a song that until now has carried a criminal conviction for performance. It’s not all hair dye and baby-boomers though, to represent modern British music please enter…Ed Sheeran. Devoid of charisma and armed only with an acoustic guitar and crass social comment songs, it fast becomes no surprise that Sheeran once described a Damien Rice gig as life changing and was a proud roadie for Nizlopi.

The appearance of the Queen herself at the end of the festivities is a bizarre sight, but at least she manages to feign modesty unlike the self-backslapping Gary Barlow ”“ clinging on in the hope that he gets a Knighthood before Robbie Williams. And sure enough he will, though after tonight he probably belongs in the Hague ”“ the greatest charge being the writing of the insufferably dull Jubilee anthem ”˜Sing’. You can throw however many singers you want at it, it won’t ever be remotely memorable. Next time, I think I’ll do a Prince Philip and make sure that bladder’s infected.


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