Proms in the Park at Hyde Park
An enthusiastic and excited crowd packed into Hyde Park on Saturday, equipped with blankets, picnics and an abundance of Union Jack flags, for Proms In The Park 2012. The event was opened by Tony Blackburn who attempted to enthuse the crowd, unfortunately, he seemed a little confused and lost for words, making his pre-show banter a little stale.
The first act soon lightened the mood. Chicago Blues Brothers took to the stage with vigor and an infectious energy. This soon had the crowd dancing and singing along. Up next were The Gypsy Queens, who had the crowd clapping throughout the entire set, and singing along to the classic ‘L’Americano’. The BBC Big Band followed with a stylish and impeccable set, with stunning solo’s that had the audience tapping their toes throughout. Their collaboration with Madeline Bell in the middle of the set was a nice extra, and she worked the crowd with a friendly smile and a wonderful soulful voice.
Next up was Let It Be, the cast from the new Beatles show to start at the Prince Of Wales Theatre this coming November. Classics such as Hey Jude were thoroughly enjoyed by all, and prompted a huge sing-along from the now 40,000 strong crowd. Bjorn Again followed up with a host of ABBA classics including Waterloo and Gimme Gimme Gimme, both of which were great audience pleasers. The crowd joined in with almost every song, which were performed wonderfully by the band, including some fantastic unison dance moves from the two ladies.
The main event began with an introduction from Sir Terry Wogan, charming and bumbling as ever. The BBC Concert Orchestra, with various conductors throughout the evening, was on top form, opening with Walton’s Crown Imperial. Tenor Alfie Boe then joined them for a short two-song set.
Il Divo followed, wowing the crowd with a stunning set. After a shaky start, due to some pitching issues from one member, they soon had the audience swaying and cheering. Their set included many of their hits, including the audience favorites Don’t Cry For Me Argentina (Andrew Lloyd Webber) and Time To Say Goodbye (Francesco Sartori). Special mention must be given to Ian Laws, who provided a sweet and enchanting array of classical guitar passages throughout Il Divo’s set.
After a long and awkward delay, with Wogan trying his best to keep the audience entertained and occupied during a stage rearrangement, 30-choir member dressed all in white took to the stage. The London Community Gospel Choir began with a cover of U2’s One, and after introducing director Basil Meade, burst into an energetic rendition of My Hope Is Built. This choir really got the crowd going and were a pure joy to watch, with rich, precise, soulful harmonies sung with energy and a dazzling smile. For their last number, soloist Annette Boyle brought the house down as the lead in Faith.
It was time for Alfie Boe to return for another short three-song set. O Sole Mio once again had the audience singing along (with some opting for the Cornetto version instead). He finished with an extremely drawn out rendition of Angel From Montgomery, raising the crowds excitement and gearing them up for what was to follow.
Truly the highlight of this event was Kylie, who entered looking glamorous and professional, with a set made up of songs from her new live Abbey Road album. These included a wonderfully orchestrated version of Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, and a slow arrangement of her classic song Lucky. There was also an extremely sensual and beautiful rendition of Slow. Kylie’s performance was faultless, note perfect and confident, with a special treat especially for her first Proms performance (and not from the album). Spinning Around had the audience dancing, singing and cheering. Credit must also go to her backing singers and band; who were simply wonderful. This collaboration between Kylie and the BBC Concert Orchestra was outstanding, resulting in a beautiful set. It was a privilege to listen to and experience these new re-workings, and the new Abbey Road album should be hotly anticipated. The set finished with a lively rendition of All The Lovers.
Once the screens crossed over to the Royal Albert Hall, the usual pandemonium began. This included several repetitions of the classics, including Wood’s Fantasia on British Sea-Songs, Rule Britania and of course Jerusalem. Hyde Park was a wash of patriotism and waving flags, as medal-winning members of Team GB took to the Royal Albert Hall stage. The national anthem ended the event (after several repetitions of course), along with a fantastic fireworks display behind the stage at Hyde Park. A fantastic time had by all, a superb lineup of acts, the traditional singalong ending, and to top it all off a wonderful sunny day to celebrate great music.
For more information, visit the Proms In The Park website.