Last night, I watched the Diamond Jubilee Concert, as shown on BBC One. The stage itself was impressive, just in front of Buckingham Palace and on what would usually be a very busy road. Robbie Williams kicked off the show in good style and many brilliant acts followed. Sir Tom Jones' "Delilah", as always, was a crowd pleaser, Dame Shirley Bassey's "Diamonds are forever" was perhaps an obvious choice but still fantastically sung and I couldn't help but sing along to Sir Elton John's "Your Song". I was surprised and a little disappointed that, as Sir Paul McCartney was the final act, "Hey Jude" didn't close the show but perhaps it would have been a little cliché.
The Palace itself was used brilliantly, with a beautiful performance of "Somewhere" on a balcony by Renee Fleming and Alfie Boe then Madness performing from the roof. Throughout the show, images and colours were projected onto the front of the grand building, which really made the most of this setting and created a very special spectacle.
During most of the performances, a sea of Union Flags were waving in the vast crowds. Despite watching it on television, one could still sense the celebratory atmosphere. Unfortunately, one performance could almost be described as disturbing. Grace Jones arrived on stage wearing what the Other Half described as "a plastic swimsuit and a foot high hat that looks like a blood red lettuce leaf". The song itself was unimpressive and, in any case, it was difficult to concentrate on her voice while watching her struggle to keep a hula hoop in motion around her midriff. By the end of her act, she was noticeably grimacing, sweaty and crying with the effort of her performance. The crowd was, for once, entirely still and many of the faces looked bored and confused. I suppose there had to be a low point in the evening.
One of the highlights of the concert was the performance of "Sing" by various artists from different countries of the Commonwealth. I felt great admiration and sympathy for the little girl whose solo began and ended the song. She did a great job under intense pressure and before a crowd of tens of thousands.
The mood was slightly affected by the news that Prince Philip had been taken ill and was unable to attend. I felt sympathy for the Queen as she did not have her husband beside her as she usually would. However, Prince Charles gave a moving, occasionally amusing and very well presented speech in honour of his mother and rallied the crowd to wish his father well. The concert ended with the Queen lighting the National Beacon, one of many being lit around Britain, as well as in Commonwealth countries, as a united tribute to her.
The celebrations for the Diamond Jubilee have been magnificent and rightly so. Sixty years is quite an achievement, especially when every day of those years have been spent in service to our country. The Queen is an amazing lady and, I believe, deserves a great deal of respect and admiration.