Thursday, 7 June 2012

Madness & inspiration

It’s been and gone, but a few thoughts on the Jubilee concert, when the palace facade was transformed into a laser spectacular, the Mall shimmered with the flecks of a thousand lighters, and most of the line-up seemed to be called ‘Sir’.

Madness’ ‘gig of the century’ on Buck Pal roof saw the house’s imposing frontage transformed into a dazzling and witty light show - ‘good God, what are they doing to my house?’ the queen could well have wondered. A striking creative clash between the grandeur of history and contemporary pop culture.

‘Sing’ featuring musicians from the Commonwealth and military wives was the number that most broke upon the consciousness with the beauty of gift and revelation. Commencing with a solo piano riff and the lone voice of a girl from the African children’s choir, the first eruption of cheering was spine-tingling… she and her friends’ shy smiles broke out, their spirits lifted by the crowd’s approval. As representatives of a continent and world where the spirit of the vulnerable is often bruised or crushed, it was an inspiring sight.

The military wives’ support ratcheted up the emotion a further notch or three: women who endure a particular kind of hardship, bound together in this creative venture. Performed to a backdrop of vintage footage of a younger queen Elizabeth visiting different parts of the Commonwealth as an ambassador of hope. Not wishing to sentimentalise – plenty of questions swirl around the monarchy of course – but something special was going on here nonetheless.

A neighbour of mine who wasn’t into it at all, felt that all the money spent on royalty when there are starving children in the world, was ‘a bit obscene’. Opens the question, is it justified to spend so much time energy and money on other great human enterprises like space exploration and the arts when great poverty exists? From one point of view it looks like squandering on luxury in a world full of need. On the other hand, can the ‘lift to the spirit’ such celebration brings, ultimately bless others if we allow it to inspire and energise us to go away and work and give for the good of all? Discuss…