Auntie serves up a series of special shows, string sections and, er, Saturday Night Fever. Various Venues (October 22-26)
Now in its third year (and for the first time taking place in Liverpool as well as London), the Beeb’s annual batch of shows are based around the idea of artists doing something different live. Of course, this usually ends up being nothing more imaginative than getting a string section to show up, but the line-up this year – even discounting the incredibly special finale from Oasis, about which you can read elsewhere – is nonetheless impressive.
There’s a host of new(-ish) bands, including Wild Beasts and XX Teens, playing on the opening night, but it’s 80-year-old Burt Bacharach who provides the highlight at the Roundhouse. His set is an embarrassment of riches, consisting of melodies so beautiful even appearances by Jamie Cullum and Adele can’t hamper them. It’s all over by 9.30pm, leaving time to take in at least half the seven-hour Afrika Exprez performance down the road at KOKO. And if the Proms really are about spontaneity, then this may be its ultimate show – Damon Albarn leading a fantastically varied cast of stars through a joyfully unpredictable, long but always compelling journey.
The next night, and Mike Skinner has dressed the BBC Concert Orchestra in what he calls “chav wedding attire”, and they return the, er, favour by lending ‘Everything Is Borrowed’ and ‘Turn The Page’ the pomp and circumstance The Streets now deserve. It finishes with Skinner splitting the crowd down the middle, sprinting to the mixing desk, then surfing all the way back to bellow the last chorus of ‘Fit But You Know It’. One wonders whether Keane are inciting quite the same levels of chaos back over at KOKO…
Saturday, and Robin Gibb decides – Lord knows why – the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack would benefit from being sung by Boyzone and Sam Sparro, but fortunately there’s a better option elsewhere in the guise of Justice screening their tour film ‘A Cross The Universe’. Preceded by a typically abrasive DJ set, it’s here the real disco fever of this particular Saturday can be found. And then, of course, there’s a spectacular closing set from that band from Manchester… Same time next year?