Liam hyperventilated at the prospect of watching Eurovision’s Greatest Hits, an extravaganza beamed across Europe by the BBC to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the travelling camp fest. I slipped a little something in his Rioja to calm him down. Compered by Graham Norton in his newly acquired hipster whiskers and the posh-frocked Swede, Petra Mede, the show featured some of the contest’s most iconic/dire/fabulous/dreadful (delete according to taste) songs from times past – Brotherhood of Man, Johnny Logan, Lordi, Nicole, Bobby Socks (who?) to name but a few. Sadly, ABBA didn’t reform for the celebration but the BBC did chuck in Riverdance to get the feet tapping (an interval act that was one of the best things to ever emerge from the competition).
Eurovision has come a long way since Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson represented Le Royaume-Uni in 1959 with Sing, Little Birdie. Now we have the transgender Dana International (winner for Israel in 1998) and Conchita Wurst, the bearded lady (winner for Austria 2014) singing a duet holding hands. Way to go, sisters – changing the world one sequin at a time and really pissing off the bigots.
Liam dragged me along to the Theatre Royal to see Spirit of the Dance, a cross-cultural burlesque with a strong Celtic twist. It may be an international smash, seen by over ten million people, but I’m afraid I wasn’t terribly impressed. The enchantment of Irish country dancing is in the regimental coordination and parade ground precision. One wrong step and the spell is broken. Sadly, there was quite a lot of wrong footing going on by the mismatched little and large chorus line. The lighting was so poor, they might as well have been barn dancing and when they got to the fake Folies Bergère routine, I’d lost the will to live; more can’t can’t than Can Can. Added to this, the score sounded like it had been run up on a Roland in a shed. I didn’t see too many people shelling out for the CD during the mercifully long interval. A stout tenor with a Jagger-swagger was rolled on now and again. Why? His voice was fine but it added nothing to the show and just got in the way. And, hasn’t Nessun Dorma rather been done to death? Norwich audiences are very forgiving but, every time he strutted on stage, you could hear the groans from the herd of grey. His face didn’t fit and neither did his baggy tux. Riverdance it ain’t.