"It's asking for the taking. Trembling, shaking. Oh, my heart is aching." -- Carly Simon

Music Here is an interesting and altogether surprising fact. Of all the seventy-two Proms I’m working may through this season the Michael Ball concert was the one I was least looking forward to and not for the reasons you’d expect. I love musical theatre. I’m not a fanatic, probably in much the same way as I’m not a fanatic any one genre of music, but I think that Chess, Hair, Rent and The Little Shop of Horrors are sublime and since it goes with the territory there’s a range of movie musical which I adore. I have then no problem at all with musical theatre cropping up in the Proms and to be fair, why should I, this being the first season when I’ve actually sat down and listened to any of them.

The problem is the kind of thing that happens when the songs of musical theatre are dragged from their narrative context and presented in the concert style, all of their original subtlety sapped away in the rush to turn them into show stoppers, all drums and keyboards and vocal crescendos. It’s the musical interludes from 3-2-1 and The Two Ronnies, Brian Connelly at the Royal Variety Performance, people being described as legendary and incomparable, compilation albums on the cover of the Sunday Express, vision mixers have a fit at the controls during a television presentation, performers presenting a concert as a musical biography and now talent shows on a Saturday night. It’s the business of making musical theatre accessible to people outside of the west end whilst simultaneously dragging the heart out of them.

Tonight’s concert fulfilled pretty much all of my, what some might see as, prejudices and unfortunately if you're expecting that this is the story of me being won over once again by something I've heard at the Proms, you're going to be disappointed. Within twenty minutes of the opening I was texting a friend saying some not very nice things as the Albert was bathed in production, drums drowning out the orchestra and Michael Ball referencing over and over what a surprise it was to be at the Proms, but an honour and attempting in his own way to cock a snoop at the critics who didn’t think he should be there and talking over and over about his love of musical theatre, all the while doing that one thing that I really dislike about this kind of presentation - it’s not really about the songs its about the personality. True, all of the concerts are about that to some extent, but it's one of the few concerts where people buying tickets totally because of the performer not because of what he's singing. My friend texted back wondering if was on crack (joke) undoubtedly noting I was blowing the thing totally out of proportion.

During the interval, Ball was interviewed by Bell and came across as a pretty genuine chap, high on the excitement of the night and very gracious in the presence of the great Angellica. Then into the second half, when he knuckled town to providing some excellent versions of songs from Bernstein, Sondheim, Lloyd-Webber and Kretzmer I found loads to enjoy actually. Yes, the production was bombast but it’s not horrible to be reminded of the musical interludes from 3-2-1 and The Two Ronnies sometimes. But then he gives Queen’sThe Show Must Go On a right old rollicking and strip mines Carly Simon‘s Wall Street Hymn (Let The River Run) and we’re back where we started. I know neither of those are from musical theatre but they really didn't deserve the treatment they got tonight. But then Love Changes Everything, and I was admittedly singing along ...

How strange is it that what should have been the most accessible concert would turn into an endurance test for me, even more so than all four to six hours of the final section of Wagner's The Ring Cycle? Musical coach David Grant once described something he’d heard on Never Mind The Buzzcocks as ‘the kind of thing that’s liked by people who like that kind of thing’ which is put down but I couldn’t help but think of it when Ball managed to create an epic pause in the middle of Jerusalem. Like the random musical noise which has been been presented as new compositions in some of these Proms, this particular presentation of some excellent music isn’t for me. Others do like it done this way and that’s fine for them and good luck to them and I wished I understood. But just now and then the camera caught the look of someone in the audience perhaps not enjoying themselves as much as you’d think they would consider they’re there or a member of the orchestra glancing balefully in the direction of the front of the stage and know I’m not alone.

Aren’t I a party pooper? Sorry Michael.

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