Hyde Park, London
Guest reviewer: Melanie Mitchell
I have always loved the BBC Proms, especially the last night which I have only ever seen on the TV. I was never really that aware of its alter ego The Proms in the Park, that is until this year. A friend and I were not only fortunate enough to attend this musical extravaganza, but we were also given access to the VIP and press arena. I can honestly say that it was one of the best evenings out I have ever had.
Every year the line-up of performers changes, this year as in previous years the event was hosted by the multi-talented Michael Ball. He was absolutely perfect in this role, linking everything seamlessly whilst making everyone feel included and thoroughly enjoying himself, which was totally infectious.
The afternoon kicked off at with the BBC DJ Tony Blackburn, who was then followed by the London-based, country, folk, pop quartet The Wandering Hearts. We were then treated to outstanding performances from The Rock Choir with the BBC orchestra followed by Lisa Stansfield, who performed some new material and wowed us all with her older hits. Matt Goss was next, accompanied by the BBC Big Band, his set was not only excellent, but he also personally surprised and shocked a superfan.
Another highlight was the hugely talented and energetic cast from Bat Out of Hell, led by Jordan Luke Gage and Christina Bennington, who had everyone on their feet belting out the songs. Just a small plug, if you only go to one show in London this year go and see Bat out of Hell, you won’t be disappointed! Also, on the bill was the young saxophonist Jess Gillam and award-winning songwriter Albert Hammond who were both outstanding.
The Maltese opera star Joseph Calleja was wonderful, and my personal favourite Josh Groban performed a truly beautiful version of ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’, among other stunning songs. It was then time for the headline act which this year was Gladys Knight. What a fantastic performance she gave, she still has the most incredible voice and had all 40,000 of us dancing and singing along to all the hits we know and love.
Then came the iconic flag waving finale, it was so amazing to be part of this experience which was being mirrored over at the Royal Albert Hall. We all played our part in the rousing renditions of Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem. A spectacular firework display was a very fitting end to a truly wonderful day. I hope to be fortunate enough to go again next year and as if the musical performances aren’t enough of a reason to go, here are 5 more:
This event is in the most glorious setting of Hyde park in central London, arrive early and take a stroll around this magnificent space. Maybe take a boat out on the lake, marvel at the stunning plants, trees and statues or simply sit peacefully and watch the world go by for a while, before entering the arena. This is a wonderful iconic event to attend, whether with a group of friends, as a couple or a family but even if you went alone you wouldn’t be for long. The camaraderie amongst the attendees was like nothing I have ever experienced at a large event or concert. People of all nationalities and ages from tiny tots to shall I say a more mature contingent were sharing, stories, drinks, food and lots of laughter. Whatever your taste in music there is absolutely something for everyone, from musical theatre, to Opera, rock, pop and disco. This is a wonderful opportunity to see a multitude of fantastically talented artists at one venue.
The organisation of such a huge event, 40,000.00 people attended, is mind boggling and needs to be seen to be believed. I have no idea how something like this is put together so slickly. From the fabulous selection of food and drink vendors, the security, the staging, lighting, superb sound and visuals to the properly plumbed in toilets. Certainly, a feat of engineering in themselves. This event is a wonderfully eclectic mix of music, food, fun and revelry mixed with the superb Pomp & Circumstance associated with the Proms. In the words of a fellow reveller “it made you proud to be British”. ★★★★★
Review by Melanie Mitchell