diamond geezer

 Sunday, November 14, 2004

Produced by Trevor Horn (part 2)
A Prince's Trust concert

Did I mention I had the best seat in the house? Not over on the royal ledge but right up at the front (well, just 9 rows back) and right in the middle. Close enough to be able to see every overacted gesture, every ill-fitting costume and every self-satisfied smirk without needing to gawp up at the huge video screen behind. And close enough to be able to check out precisely who'd aged well and who hadn't. Let's start the second half with one of each.

Pet Shop Boys: Neil has always looked 40, and still does. Chris on the other hand has always looked 20, and so it was extremely unnerving to see his gaunt face hidden beneath cap and glasses looking at least 60. Musically both were as ageless as ever. Left To My Own Devices (no 4, Nov 1988) remains one of their finest works, almost classical in nature, and especially so with a full orchestra belting out behind. The boys were joined on stage by the opera singer who'd performed on the original recording, who it turned out they'd never previously met, and she beamed for a full five minutes while she waited to sing her one four-note phrase (twice). She was then permitted just one whooping arpeggio on It's Alright (no 5, Jul 1989), but the perfect nostalgic re-creation was complete.
Lisa Stansfield: Look, it's the Lisa Stansfield. Yes, you know, her who had all those big hits in the early 90s. I wonder which great old hit she's going to perform for us? Ah, none of them, it's Say It To Me Now, some 2004 Trevor-produced album ballad instead. Never heard it before. There again, isn't her voice still absolutely fabulous? When Shirley Bassey finally retires, Lisa has the voice to replace her.
t.a.T.u: And then there were the two supposedly lesbian supposedly Russian supposedly schoolgirls. They appeared on stage in extremely short denim mini skirts and knee-high leather boots, then proceeded to touch each other occasionally, presumably to wake up all the dozing bank managers in the front row. It was more like a pop video than a performance, but All The Things She Said (no 1, May 2003) remains an unexpected slab of perfect pop.
Seal: Few artists are as loved by mainstream Britain as Seal (you've got one of his albums tucked away somewhere, haven't you?). This was evident when the entire audience (royalty excepted) rose to its feet during the opening notes of Killer (no 1, Apr 1990), then proceeded to stand and sway during Kiss From A Rose (no 20, July 1994) and Crazy (no 2, Dec 1990). He gave an outstanding vocal performance and the crowd were 100% hooked. Seal thanked Trevor for working on all of his albums, and no doubt the audience will thank Seal by rushing out and buying his new Greatest Hits album for Christmas.
Frankie Goes To Hollywood: You probably remember FGTH as Holly Johnson plus four scallies. We only got the four scallies, plus a replacement singer who did a darned fine job but wasn't quite Holly. The audience were already on their feet so they stayed there, despite Welcome To The Pleasuredome (no 2, Mar 1985) not being a natural crowd-pleaser. Paul Rutherford was having the time of his life hamming it up on stage, and continued to bounce around to Two Tribes (no 1, Jun 1984) (a song still surprisingly relevant 20 years on). And then, how else to close a Horn-y show but with Relax (no 1, Jan 1984)? It's a fantastic song and by the first chorus even Camilla was joining in, tapping her right hand up and down on her thigh in time to the music. By the second chorus she was being a slapper on both thighs, and even Prince Charles (happy 56th birthday Your Royal Highness) had one hand on the go. Bit of a triumph to get the future king of England beating along to a song about sex and orgasms, I reckoned. Relax was a fitting climax to the show, leaving the audience on a euphoric high. Trevor apologised that there was no time for an encore, thanked the world for coming (not literally, after that last song, you'll be glad to know) and sent us away smiling. His is a rare and humble talent, and I doubt Simon Cowell will be packing out stadia in 25 years time. But if Trevor ever plans a 50th anniversary concert, I'll be there.

some blurry photos
further reviews by those present

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