Today two videos appeared in YouTube of Dame Shirley Bassey’s performance last night at the Royal Albert Hall in London for mr. Gorbachev 80th. birthday party. Songs: ‘Diamonds are forever’ and ‘The lady is a tramp’. She sounded and looked amazing. (With special thanks to Susan)
The good-bad, stop-start energy was flagging until Dame Shirley Bassey stormed in and bellowed “Diamonds are Forevuuuuuh!” She gave everyone an object lesson in old- fashioned razzle-dazzle and in jump-starting a catatonic audience. They should market her as a defibrillator.
Mikhail Gorbachev celebrated his 80th birthday at a star-studded charity gala in London last night, where he honoured Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the internet as a “man who changed the world”.
The former Soviet leader personally chose Sir Tim, CNN founder Ted Turner, and Kenyan engineer Evans Wadongo, as the winners of the inaugural Gorbachev Awards.
The Mikhail Gorbachev – The Man Who Changed The World gala at the Royal Albert Hall was hosted by Kevin Spacey and Sharon Stone.
It featured performances from Dame Shirley Bassey, Katherine Jenkins, Bryan Ferry, Paul Anka, Melanie C, Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California, Lech Walesa, the former Polish president, and actresses Goldie Hawn and Milla Jovovich were among stars who made a red-carpet entrance to the event.
Also due to attend were Israeli president Shimon Peres, former Prime Minister Sir John Major and England football manager Fabio Capello.
Proceeds from the evening were to be donated to the Raisa Gorbachev Children’s Institute for Transplantology and Haematology in St Petersburg, and to Macmillan Cancer Support.
The Gorbachev Awards were presented in three categories, intended to reflect the former Soviet leader’s own achievements in the world. Mr Gorbachev, who turned 80 earlier this month, is widely credited with ending the Cold War. He won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.
The three Man Who Changed the World awards were:
Gllasnost, awarded to Mr Turner for his “contribution to the development of the culture of an open world”. Mr Turner, 72, is known not only for founding CNN but also as a philanthropist who donated one billion dollars to the United Nations.
Uskorenie, awarded to Mr Wadongo for his “contribution to the development of modern science and technology”. Mr Wadongo, 25, from Kenya, invented a solar-powered LED lantern at 18.
Perestroika, awarded to Sir Tim for his “contribution to the development of global civilisation”. Sir Tim invented the World Wide Web in 1989.
Mr Gorbachev said: “These three people have each, in their own way, changed the world for their fellow men and women in ways which affect all our lives.
“Each and every one possesses the ability to make a difference and the Gorbachev Awards have been established to those people who achieve this and to provide inspiration to all of us to try.”
The evening’s finale was due to be the debut performance of a song called Changing The World For Us All, written by Paul Anka and Andrey Makarevich and performed by the two men alongside Katherine Jenkins and the Turetsky Choir.
The evening’s co-host, actress Sharon Stone, said of Mr Gorbachev: “He has carried himself presidentially through the world since, doing good things around the world and carrying his desire to be a good citizen through his life.
“I’m very honoured to be asked, I’m very honoured to help to introduce all of the extraordinary people who are here to honour Mr Gorbachev.
“It’s an amazing thing to have been a child and growing up and seeing a country that we were at odds with – and now to have an extraordinary opportunity to go to that country and then to work with this particular man, doing good works around the world. It demonstrates to us that there really is no need to be at odds with anyone.”
Mr Turner, speaking as he arrived the gala, described the former Soviet leader’s achievements as “peacefully ending a Cold War and letting the republics of the Soviet Union democratically leave because they wanted to, and saved millions of lives and another world war”.
He added: “That’s pretty good, don’t you think? And that ain’t all he did – that’s just some of it.”
Former Spice Girl Melanie C, who performed at the event, said: “He’s an incredibly inspirational person and I’m just really honoured that I was invited to be performing for him here tonight.
The Moscow Times:
It was a bizarre evening in the Royal Albert Hall.
If you had ever been asked who would attend the 80th birthday celebration for the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, it is unlikely that you would have answered Shirley Bassey, the Scorpions and one of the Spice Girls.
But they and many more stars were in attendance for a birthday party late Wednesday — a concert and an awards ceremony with the grand, almost James Bond title of ”Mikhail Gorbachev: The Man Who Changed the World.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger, conductor Valery Gergiyev, former Polish President Lech Walesa and Israeli President Shimon Peres were among those who joined Gorbachev as well as Mel C — formerly Sporty Spice — as the night moved from the cheesy and over-the-top to touching and back again in the blink of an eye.
“I never expected to live until 80, but now I take on the responsibility of living until I am 90,” Gorbachev joked in a short speech at the start of the evening.
The nigh-on four-hour event was hosted by — again, who would have guessed it — actors Sharon Stone and Kevin Spacey, who spoke in front of a neo-classical column decorated with pink curtains.
They tried but failed to do an impression of Academy Awards ceremony hosts, Spacey the joker doing impressions of Bill Clinton and Jack Nicholson but sadly no voices relevant to Gorbachev’s time in office, and Stone the ditzy co-host with a number of dress changes. Hearing both of them continuously mangle various Russian names and concepts added a level of surreality to the event, which was attended by numerous Russians.
Announcing that Andrei Arshavin and Roman Pavlyuchenko — football forwards from Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs, respectively — were in the audience, Spacey mangled their names to unrecognizability and then tried to get laughs with the hoary joke about a ”perestroikas” [pair of strikers] being present.
The evening began with a film showing world figures such as Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa with schmaltzy quotes about changing the world before moving on to Gorbachev drawing applause from the black-tie crowd who had paid up to £100,000 ($160,000) to be at the event.
Aging German rock band the Scorpions sang their song “Wind of Change” about the political changes in Eastern Europe and brought tears to at least one audience member. No tears came when they followed that up with their song “Rock You Like a Hurricane.”
But the fact that the night was taking place in London rather than anywhere in the former Soviet Union underlined the fact that Gorbachev remains a divisive figure in his homeland, where many fault him for changing their world. Not that many at the show appeared to realize that.
There were many tributes to Gorbachev, but the hosts in particular seemed to be bent on just saying the phrase “the man who changed the world” or talking of how Gorbachev had allowed to Russia to become “free and democratic” over and over again.
Some in the audience, and surely Gorbachev himself, who recently chastised Vladimir Putin for backtracking on democracy, may have felt the huge gap between rhetoric and reality on the night.
The total Hollywoodization of Gorbachev’s role came when Russian pop group Khor Turetskogo (the Turetsky Choir) sang the African-American spiritual song, “Go Down, Moses,” only to change the lyrics to ”Gorbachev, Let My People Go.”
This was followed by Mel C singing the famous Nina Simone song “Ain’t Got No/I Got Life.” The singer tweeted before the show that she would be singing the word “boobies” before lots of dignitaries that night.
Outside Albert Hall, a small group of protesters held up a banner saying “Gorby, help us reload perestroika!” Meanwhile, Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky’s lawsuit to have Gorbachev arrested for his crimes as Soviet leader was rejected by a London court.
A few weeks before, at a reception at the British Embassy, he noted, with false modesty perhaps, that he would have preferred to have just “sat in a corner” for his birthday, and that it was his family who was behind the event.
That may explain the eclectic line-up on the night.
One of the few poignant moments came in a short film showing musician Andrei Makarevich playing the guitar as Gorbachev sang the words to a love song from the 1940s, accompanied by photos of him and his late wife Raisa.
Actress Milla Jovovich, who was born in the then-Soviet republic of Ukraine, also gave a more heartfelt speech to Gorbachev that brought her to tears. “When I left the Soviet Union in 1980, we were sure that we would never return to be able to see our loved ones again, and now we are able to reunite with friends, so thank you,” she said.
Each of the prizes at the awards ceremony was meant to correspond with the three buzzwords of Gorbachev’s time in office: “perestroika,” “glasnost” and ”uskoreniye,” or restructuring, openness and acceleration.
The prizes went to, respectively, CNN founder Ted Turner; 25-year-old Kenyan engineer Evans Wadongo, who developed a solar lamp for poor Kenyans; and Sir Tim Berners Lee, the British scientist credited with inventing the Internet. Lee’s award was accepted by his brother.
Proceeds from the event are set to go to a cancer charity named after Gorbachev’s wife and to Britain’s Macmillan Cancer Support.
Veteran singer Paul Anka finished the show off with a swagger and nimbleness that belied the fact that he is not much more than a decade younger than Gorbachev.
After singing “You Are My Destiny,” his 1957 hit, which the Gorbachev family had personally asked for, he sang his most famous song, “My Way.”
“I originally wrote this song for Frank Sinatra, but it’s indigenous to you,” Anka said rather awkwardly before blasting out the song.
And then fake snow fluttered down on to the crowd at the end as Anka and Makarevich sang a song they had jointly written about Gorbachev and about changing the world.