Prom 45: Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain + 1000 - Royal Albert Hall, 18 August 2009
It's rumoured a BBC executive and his PA were the first to pluck in the Royal Albert Hall this Proms season. At least I think that's what I heard.
But an estimated 1,000 of last night's capacity Proms audience (was this the most popular Prom of the season?) got the opportunity too. Each strummed their own instrument in an inspired audience participation event as the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain - 6 men, 2 women, 8 ukuleles - led them in a 4,032-string arrangement of Beethoven's Ode to Joy.
It was the centrepiece of an hour long set that saw the UOOGB bring down the house with everything from a lounge style Anarchy in the UK to a swingin' Wuthering Heights with the Orchestra's inimitable leader George Hinchcliffe on Tony Bennett vocals. Ride of the Valkyries and Saint-Saëns's Danse Macabre proved resilient to rejigging. Their best arrangements render the over-familiar momentarily unrecognisable and Jerusalem - a rare straight treatment - was born anew.
Massed ukes were waved in the air for Robbie Williams's Angels in the second of two canon-medleys which indubitably proved the UOOGB theory there are only two pop songs in the world.
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