Veteran songwriter Burt Bacharach launched the five-day BBC Electric Proms series at the Roundhouse venue in Camden, north London, with a set packed with classic hits and featuring guest stars.
The 80-year-old composer performed at the piano alongside dozens of musicians, including the BBC Concert Orchestra, a trio of singers and U.K. artists Adele, Beth Rowley and Jamie Cullum.
The Electric Proms, now in its third year, aims to create “new moments in music”; the series of shows is being jointly staged in Liverpool for the first time and artists performing over the rest of the week include Oasis, The Streets and Keane.
The Oct. 22 opening show began with “What The World Needs Now Is Love,” originally recorded by Jackie DeShannon.
“Every song that you will hear while we’re out here on stage performing for you, playing for you, all the music has one thing in common,” said Bacharach. “All the music has been written by the same person – the piano player here.”
Bacharach also credited the lyrical contribution of the “brilliant” Hal David, and then promised a “pretty extended medley”, beginning with “Don’t Make Me Over,” which he pointed out was “the first song we ever recorded with Dionne Warwick.”
The medley also included “Walk On By,” “I Say A Little Prayer” and “Do You Know the Way To San Jose.”
Jazz-pop singer Cullum guested on “Make It Easy On Yourself,” while versatile singer-songwriter Beth Rowley sang a stirring rendition of the Gene Pitney hit “Twenty-Four Hours From Tulsa.” Brit-winning soul artist Adele performed “Baby It’s You.”
“That was great,” said Bacharach. “I’m very proud of that song by the way. How many American composers can say they’ve had a song recorded by The Beatles?”
Bacharach also conducted the orchestra during a more recent composition, “For The Children,” written to be performed with the Sydney Symphony in January 2008. The recording was released as a live album, “Live At The Sydney Opera House” (Universal Classics), in the U.K. on Oct. 20.
There was also a movie medley, including “The Look Of Love” and “What’s New Pussycat?”, and a further medley of his “first four hits”, including “Magic Moments,” “The Story Of My Life” and “Beware Of The Blob.”
Bacharach sang the finale of “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” himself.
The Bacharach concert aired on TV on BBC Two a few hours after the set and will be broadcast on Radio 2 at 7.30pm on Oct. 24.
U.K. rock act Oasis play the final night of the BBC Electric Proms at the Roundhouse on Oct. 26. Noel Gallagher recently confirmed that 50 members of the Crouch End Festival Chorus will join the band on stage for seven songs.
The BBC is the promoter for the event; SJM Concerts are production partners for Liverpool and Metropolis Music are production partners for London.
Burt Bacharach setlist:
“What The World Needs Now Is Love”
“Anyone Who Had A Heart”
“Make It Easy On Yourself” (Jamie Cullum)
“(They Want To Be) Close To You”
“24 Hours From Tulsa” (Beth Rowley)
“For The Children”
“Baby It’s You” (Adele)
“Any Day Now”
First Four Hits Medley
“What The World Needs Now Is Love” (reprise)
“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”