Gig review: Proms in the Park, Glasgow

The folding chairs and picnic tables were out in force for this now traditional alfresco addendum to the Last Nights of the Proms celebrations in the Royal Albert Hall, this gathering hosted by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Stephen Bell and compered by singer and broadcaster Jamie MacDougall.

KT Tunstall was sparky while being backed by sighing strings on new track Maybe Its A Good Thing. Picture: Contributed
KT Tunstall was sparky while being backed by sighing strings on new track Maybe Its A Good Thing. Picture: Contributed

Proms in the Park | Glasgow Green | Rating ***

The programme was unapologetically populist but ranged widely from glittering waltzes to wistful folk melody, from movie magic to Spanish romances, the taut melodrama of the overture to Verdi’s La Forza del Destino to Bizet’s bubbly Farandole, none of which particularly demanded though often deserved the rapt attention of the sprawling audience.

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The guest performers were also drawn from across the musical and entertainment spectrum, with a view to appealing as broadly as possible.

Mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill draped herself around Bizet’s Habanera and relished the “drama queen central” aria Smanie implacabili from Cosi fan tutte, while KT Tunstall was similarly sparky, backed by beefed-up percussion on Suddenly I See and sighing strings behind new track Maybe It’s A Good Thing.

There was a mercifully brief comedy interlude from Greg McHugh, aka fearsome political interrogator Gary: Tank Commander, duetting with his co-star Leah MacRae on a song from Frozen. At least one of them can sing. And I could have done with less of Collabro, the musical theatre boy band who won Britain’s Got Talent a couple of years ago, though their white bread renditions of material from The Lion King and Les Mis seemed to hit the spot for many in the audience.

A bright half moon was visible over the stage by the time the SSO delivered John Williams’ uplifting theme from E.T. though we waited in vain for the bicycle to fly across it. As the evening air began to nip. dances and marches proved popular, whether the pert Tritsch-Tratsch Polka, Sousa’s Liberty Bell, traditional Last Night Of The Proms’ shindig The Sailor’s Hornpipe or the classical ceilidh which rounded off the night in Glasgow, though not before the various Proms in the Park events around the country joined up with the Last Night crowd in London, showcasing choral renditions of traditional tunes – All Through the Night from Colwyn Bay, Danny Boy in Belfast and The Skye Boat Song performed by Cargill and massed choir/audience in Glasgow.