THE DAME IS BACK Tour June 2006
PART ONE with some of my snaps from Wembley (Part Two will be posted tomorrow)
From the moment the tour was announced in December 2005 every fan had been anticipating the week with increasing excitement. Her last public performance had been at the Llangollen Eistedfodd on a hot day in summer 2003.
There were even rumours going around that Shirley might have retired. She’s worked hard for five decades at the top of Show Business. Years that have at times been tough.
Most fans wouldn’t begrudge her retirement as she approaches her 70th birthday next January. There’s a huge back-catalogue of recordings. But we would be desolated at the prospect of never again getting that unique ‘high’ from her stunning live performances.
We needn’t have worried. It was just a sabbatical. This tour has proven that the Diamond Dame is forever flawless.
The voice is as powerful as ever. She’s as beautiful as ever. The gowns are as glamorous as ever. Thanks to almost daily gym workouts, and drinking more Perrier water than Laurent-Perrier pink champagne, Shirley looks great.
More flirtatious, feminine and playful than ever, Shirley was having fun on stage. Switching on the strong emotions of those high octane songs to startling effect.
She has previously joked about her decision, at age 29 years, not to get any older. From her appearance and energy on this tour you’d be forgiven if you thought she was, well, if not 29 then certainly much younger than 69.
Like Shirley, I’m a groovy granny, and young at heart. And let’s face it, nobody’s getting any younger!
“I feel like a bloody canary!” Shirley shouted at Manchester. Julian McDonald’s brilliant new gown looked beautiful.
Intensely haute couture, this was Shirley as eye-candy. Like the yellow sun, she radiated joy. On most women it may have looked a trifle vulgar. With a lot of banana in the trifle. On Shirley it looked gorgeous.
She commented how the tight fitting gown flattered her, joking that she’s wearing Julian’s slim figure, not her own.
The light chiffon feathered cape was backlit during the intro to Light My Fire. Shirley used it to good effect, flinging it around like flowing wings.
The cape was dropped at the third song, Shirley hinting “Let’s get rid of that!” to cheers from the audience. A roadie sneaked on to collect it from the floor, trying to be invisible. At one concert a certain Diva was standing on it. He crept off and tried later.
As the concerts progressed, more and more of the feathers fell off. Shirley reckoned that by the end of the tour she’d be singing naked. Detached feathers were blown to the audience.
Shirley launched into “Music” – the song she first did at the Royal Variety Performance. Half way through she leaves the orchestra, who continue to play a storming sequence of crescendos and hand-clapping breaks. Reminding me of the orchestration in “MacArthur’s Park”.
To tumultuous applause, Shirley reappeared centre-stage in a red gown to complete the dramatic song.
That was just another “Wow!” in a concert full of “wow factors“.
For gown nerds like me, that was the same red creation as worn at the Royal Variety Performance. Spangled with an infinite number of crystals.
The finale cape was silver with an explosion of white plumage. Fabulous.
More tomorrow in Part Two… Have a nice weekend