Platinum Party at the Palace review: Queen’s concert was visually spectacular, scattershot and totally bonkers

·3-min read
Diana Ross  (Getty Images)
Diana Ross (Getty Images)

The line-up and running order for the Platinum Party at the Palace – an all-star, visually spectacular celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee at Buckingham Palace on Saturday night – appeared to have been decided by someone spinning a roulette wheel. Across three long hours, it threw up Queen’s Brian May shredding the solo to We Will Rock You atop the Victoria Memorial, pop’s Mr. Nice Guy George Ezra having lyrics bleeped out by the BBC, Andrew Lloyd Webber interviewing Lin-Manuel Miranda through the form of song, and some stuff that was even weirder than that.

With presumably unlimited cash and artists champing at the bit to be involved, the Party at the Palace could largely do whatever it wanted with its 180 minutes on air. In the end, it decided to do everything. The concert was a scattershot mish-mash of British culture thrown together in a blender. Was it impeccably curated and scheduled? No. Did we find it impossible to look away regardless? Absolutely.

After ongoing health issues, the Queen herself wasn’t in attendance at the lavish concert, but did make an appearance during the first main segment of the show after half an hour of bitty interviews to open the evening. In the scene, Her Majesty has tea at the palace with Paddington and produces a marmalade sandwich from her handbag in a truly bizarre beginning to a peculiar but richly entertaining evening.

We were treated to classic staples like Elbow doing One Day Like This, Rod Stewart taking on Sweet Caroline and Celeste teaming up with Hans Zimmer for a rendition of What a Wonderful World. The speedy and unrelenting nature with which the performances came and went made it almost whiplash-like to be watching Elbow’s glorious 2008 hit unfold before Diversity immediately followed them to tell the story of British pop music in bombastic fashion. It was relentless and – when it worked properly – quite wonderful entertainment.

Sam Ryder performed in a Union Jack jumpsuit, of course (Getty Images)
Sam Ryder performed in a Union Jack jumpsuit, of course (Getty Images)

As the likes of Duran Duran, Alicia Keys – who turned the lyrics for Empire State of Mind into an ode to London – and Diana Ross took us further into the evening, the visual spectacle got more and more ambitious. David Attenborough was projected onto the wall of Buckingham Palace for a short segment, while dance, musical theatre and more all intersected in a show that proved to be a proper – if randomly selected – representation of British culture, including the inevitable appearance of Sam Ryder, still fresh from his Eurovision triumph.

After three hours and through the manic nature of the show’s setup – two stages were built in front of the palace so cameras could roll from one performance to the next immediately – keeping up with the Party at the Palace became an almost psychedelic experience. Was that really drone corgis in the sky? Did George Ezra actually get censored when he sang “you better throw a party on the day that I die” on new single Green Green Grass? No matter how outlandish and somewhat flawed it was, it was not a night that will be forgotten in a hurry.

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