Standing ovations are par for the course for Russell Watson, though they usually come at the end.
Of course, by opening with a stirring rendition of the National Anthem, Russell not only ensured his audience would be on their feet immediately, but also set the scene for this Jubilee, Olympic and Prom celebration all rolled into one.
With Abide With Me, Danny Boy, and England’s Rugby Anthem done and dusted, Russell broke into some welcome familiar territory, with an emotionally-charged rendition of Bring Him Home from Les Miserables.
Heavy traffic had delayed the musicians’ arrival at the venue, so any comprehensive sound-check was out of the question, without postponing the start any further.
While the eventual balance might have been better overall, conductor, Robert Emery certainly got the very best from the excellent London Concert Orchestra and Singers.
Award-winning young soprano, Laura Wright, proved one of the evening’s highlights, and no doubt found singing the specially-composed Song for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, ‘Stronger As One’, a tad less daunting than a day or so earlier, in the presence of Her Majesty.
Those who might have liked the odd bit of ‘Italian’ from Russell were disappointed, but the prom-like finale clearly confirmed what this highly-entertaining evening was all about – wall-to-wall patriotism.
However, the relatively small number of flag-wavers, and some rarely-witnessed empty seats clearly said more about the state of the nation’s economy, than any reflection of national pride.
PHILIP R BUTTALL