The summer of 2007 marked the ten-year anniversary of the death of Britain's Princess Diana, but her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, who organized the Concert for Diana chronicled in this two-DVD set, instead billed it as a celebration marking what would have been her 46th birthday. That deliberate repositioning of remembrance is indicative of the approach taken with the show, which places heavy emphasis on Princess Diana's charitable activities (and is itself a benefit for those charities). Interspersed between the musical performances is a series of films called "Diana & Me," testimonials to the princess in which she is remembered for her visits to the blind, the deaf, the sick, and the physically challenged. Over and over, the people heard in these films recall trips made by Diana to see them, marveling at how down to earth and friendly she was, as clips and photographs show her shaking hands and posing. It all comes off as the height of noblesse oblige, as a golden-haired, fashionably dressed young woman lends her status and star power to those much less well off, who are appropriately grateful. This tradition is more familiar in the U.K., a country that seems to maintain its vestigial royal family precisely for such purposes, though Americans may be less impressed. Much the same can be said for the five-hour show, in which Prince William and Prince Harry have mixed veteran British pop performers who were or might have been favorites of their mother (Elton John, Duran Duran, Status Quo, Roger Hodgson of Supertramp, Tom Jones, Bryan Ferry, and Rod Stewart, plus the English National Ballet doing an excerpt from Swan Lake and a collection of songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals) with recent pop stars from the U.K. charts (James Morrison, Lily Allen, the Feeling, Orson [who are actually American], Will Young, Take That), and some current international stars (Fergie, Pharrell Williams, Nelly Furtado, Joss Stone, Natasha Bedingfield, Kanye West, P. Diddy). The operative word, however, is "pop." There is nothing too intense or extreme here, just plenty of light, sentimental music. Fergie, West, and P. Diddy are among those who bring big production values, including choreography, the better to fill the large stage of the new Wembley Stadium and impress a live audience of 62,000. But old hands like Jones, Ferry, and Stewart (who kicks soccer balls to the crowd), and, especially, Hodgson, doing his Breakfast in America medley, seem to be the crowd favorites. Princess Diana is remembered fondly by all, with very little of the sensationalistic side of her celebrity (although, given the circumstances of her death in a car crash while escaping from paparazzi, a section called "Diana and Photographers" might have been dispensed with).
Share this page