It was Madness at Buckingham Palace, as the much loved nutty boys of ska took to the roof of Her Majesty's residence. For the Golden Jubilee, they only had Brian May up there, playing the national anthem. This time the roof had to take the weight of a seven strong band doing silly dancing. They were one of the highlights of the Diamond Jubilee Concert delivering a rambunctious performance of Our House, a song more usually associated with humble terraces rather than grandiose palaces.
Everything about this year's show had been planned to upstage its predecessor, from the massive purpose built stage surrounding the Victoria Monument to the dazzling laser mapped projections that turned the palace itself into an ever-changing backdrop. The staging was actually more ambitious and cutting edge than the line-up.
Perhaps inevitably, the show tread lightly around the edges of pop culture. Queen Elizabeth II has reigned over psychedelia, heavy rock, punk, indie, hip hop, electro, rave and Britpop, but there was nobody on the bill at the Palace who was likely to upset the corgis. “We forgot to invite The Sex Pistols,” joked Gary Barlow backstage. The Take That frontman was heavily involved in setting the concert up, and it reflected his middle-of-the-road, light entertainment tastes. “You don’t want to be on the edge of your seat at an event like this. There’s plenty of great artists who want to be there, and deserve to be there.”
They included several knights and dames of the realm, superstars who can usually be relied upon to perk up royal entertainment. Sir Tom Jones proved popular with the crowd, the kind of cheerful performer who can be relied on to lead a big lusty singalong. Delilah may be a song about infidelity and murder but it sounded oddly uplifting sung by massed voices on the doorstep of the Palace. Perhaps circumspectly, Her Majesty delayed her entrance until after the Welshman had finished his murder ballad. "You missed Tom Jones," joked Lenny Henry. "You just live over there!"
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