FOR a few sweet minutes, as Dame Shirley Bassey opened with Goldfinger, every smartly dressed gentleman
FOR a few sweet minutes, as Dame Shirley Bassey opened with Goldfinger, every smartly dressed gentleman in the audience felt as if he’d entered the world of Ian Fleming’s famous spy.
The whole crowd were on their feet — and with good reason.
Here is an artist who is truly the genuine article. Her voice still sounds as crisp, rich and powerful as it did on the opening credits of the 1964 spy thriller.
What’s more, Dame Shirley made it look effortless, and as she went on to sing Lady is a Tramp, Diamonds are Forever and Wonderful she put Blake, who she performed with on Saturday night, in the shade.
Backed by the BBC Concert Orchestra her voice filled the lawn and grandstand and could be heard, I’m certain, for many miles along the river.
Perhaps I’m being slightly critical of Blake, though. The trio did an admirable job of engaging with and endearing themselves to the crowd for three quarters of an hour prior to Dame Shirley joining them on stage.
Although peppering their set with too much talking between songs, the group are hugely talented and likeable and performed excellent versions of Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars and Nessun Dorma, as made famous by the late, great tenor Luciano Pavarotti.
Individually, Ollie Baines, Humphrey Berney and Stephen Bowman are good, but when their voices come togetherÂ this is what sets them apart from the rest and wins Classical Brit Awards.
For the encore Dame Shirley joined Blake in singing a humorous and slightly hectic rendition of Anything You Can Do, followed by The Impossible Dream and finishing with Hey Jude, originally by the Beatles, which had thousands singing along and waving their arms in the air.
Saturday’s audience clearly knew they were witnessing something special. Dame Shirley’s appearance at Henley was only the seventh time she’s performed in the lastÂ 10 years.
This sell-out evening proved she still has theÂ power to captivate audiences afterÂ more than 60 years in showbusiness.