Diana Ross – Royal Albert Hall, London

I paid for this trip ages ago. A birthday cum anniversary weekend away with Mrs. Tangerine. Away from the chores, the drudgery and the responsibilities of running an illicit post-amputee midget white collar boxing/suikendo operation. It’s very profitable but it can be highly stressful lemme tells ya, especially dealing with the insurance companies and trying to find a midget replacement at the last minute.

So, a weekend away with my betrothed. A weekend of wining, dining, maybe a smidgen of sixty-nining. Although to be honest, what with my knees being fucked and Mrs. Tangerine being sat slap-bang in front of the big, fat shit-spraying machine that is the menopause, that dream will probably wither and die, just like all my others do/did.

Anyway, let’s cut straight to the chase. The nub if you will. The quintessential part of today’s story. 

Diana Ross. Diana ‘The Boss’ Ross. THEEEEEEE DIANA ROSS. In the big house.

Now before I get stuck in, let me say this, so’s ya know where this review is headed. 

“Diana Ross is absolute, bonafide royalty.” 

I don’t mean royalty in the outdated, archaic sponging off the state, freeloading, outdated, tax-dodging, parasitic, outdated, murderous royalty of this country no, no, I mean in the absolute Camelot royalty of glittering romance and magnificence. That royalty. The royalty that came from a dirt-poor background, a self-made metaphorical royalty driven by extraordinary talent, sacrifice and hard work. Not, as established, the surrounding yourself with sycophantic, toady, weak-willed flunkies whilst displaying a psychotic arrogance and narcissism that actually beggars belief, the royalty of inauthentic, talentless unglamorous classless inbred, insular, racist, unsound, valour stealing, gormless bigoted royalty of murderous, squatting land stealers. That royalty. 

Sorry, it’s just the word royalty, it sticks in my craw like a pube the size of a rabbits foot. I don’t know why but it just summons up, from literally nowhere, a gag reflex…GAK…you see, *coughs up a giant fur ball*…the sponging, vile…STOP IT MR. PELICAN SIR!!! STOP IT!!!

Right. So. On with the show…

Diana. 80 years of age Diana. The Diana of Motown. Diana of the early sixties. Diana of duets with Smokey, Marvin, The Temptations to name just a few. How do you even quantify such a stellar career when you’ve worked with luminaries like that. Or how about Diana the actor. Or Diana the humanitarian. How do you even start your CV. On mine for my last job application I put that I like to work as part of a team or on my own. That covers a few bases then I s’pose. On my own or with people. Jesus. I also put that I can cope in a pressurised environment. I think they must’ve thought I was referring to deep sea diving. I even put that I can free-fall skydive. I can’t. Obviously. And I put that I like socialism. I meant to put socialising but the fucking predictive text nazi took over, the ducking pain in the arse. So much for my proofreading. Can you even turn the text nazi off on an iPhone? So, that’s me and my fantastic C.V. I’m a free-falling, scuba diving socialist who likes to work on his own or with people an’ I’m coming to your town. Nowt odd there then. 

Anyway, to speed things up a bit, basically my CV is shit, compared to anyone’s, let alone Diana fucking Ross’s.

I didn’t get the job by the way. It was part of a job club, I only have to attend 6 interviews a year thank fuck. They said if I don’t they’ll throw me off the dole. Sorted. Piece a piss. I’m happy on my PiP and ESA, guaranteed income y’see. Plus if Gaz aka Giuseppe aka Greasy Bob keeps getting me the occasional shift driving his ice-cream van then I’m happy. Free 99s, mini-flakes and as many bags of Spice as I can imbibe. Get in. 

So, where were we? Oh yeah, Diana Ross, that’s right. 

First, a five minutes video montage displaying Diana’s awe-inspiring magnificence on a 30 x 30 feet LCD screen. As if we didn’t know already. Picture after picture, video after fantastic video of Diana with any and every singer and mover & shaker worth mentioning, with Diana’s soft, delicately voiced monologue in the background, playing over a funky, funky beat. If this was trying to moisten us up, it was doing a good job because the crowd were as wet as fuck. The beats got higher baby, the cheers got louder baby, the feet were stompin’ baby and the walls were gunna come down. Even for an 80 year old soul legend, this atmosphere was ridiculous.

Then, from nowhere, at 7.30 on the dot, not 7.50, or 9.25, she came on. Tiny, über professional and resplendent in a canary yellow feathered off the shoulder number that was crafted with showbiz in mind. Her zimmer frame covered in bright lights and diamonds.*

This was Vegas styleee in South Kensington. “I’m comin’ out” bursts into hi-NRG energy and a thousand closeted homosexuals come out in unison. Song after song, bomb after bomb, if you love music you should know them all. If you don’t, then piss off and listen to Adele’s new album. 

Midway through, an assistant brings her some dinner. Steak and kidney pie with chips an’ gravy followed by strawberry blancmange.**

More bangers, more costume changes, more stories about Smokey, Michael, Berry, of her love for Marvin. Although I think she mentioned one of her earlier anecdotes again, but no one said owt, why would you, it’s Diana Ross, so dementia be damned. 

Just imagine, listening to It’s My House, I’m Still Waiting, Theme From Mahogany, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough to name just a few, sung live by the original artist, with a twenty piece funk and soul orchestra backing it up. This was no showbiz medley and cash-in, this was a real gig, with each song sung in its entirety, with no segways or halfarsed interludes. 

Diana’s interactions and connection with her crowds has always been legendary, but this was almost grooming and was absolutely insane. We were there mate, in the palm of her tiny hand. 

Exactly 50 years ago she played the magnificent Royal Albert Hall for the first time, to an audience of hardcore 70s smokers, comb-overs, highly flammable polyester suit wearers, wife beaters, stay at home wives in cheap makeup and shit wigs with ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ playing on the portable. A stiff, cold, unemotionally tough crowd who would remain seated and politely but begrudgingly clap after a song and remain stony faced when Diana reminisced and anecdoted. But eventually, even then in those dark, litter strewn days of strikes and three day weeks, she even managed to moisten them up, throw away their inhibitions, loosen their grip and by the end of the show, Diana made early seventies Britain’s hearts beat faster than a nonce’s in a prison cell. 

And now, in an age of emoticons, likes, revenge porn and narcissistic supply, this was good vibes euphoria on tap, this was reminisce to the max’, this was your annual summer holiday trip to see aunty Diana who lives by the coast, that mad relative you love that gets pissed at wedding do’s, dances with toddlers in her bare feet and always puts a couple of quid in your pocket. It was full cream opioids. It just hurt so good. 

And on this very stage, over 50 years ago, Diana introduced her 3 year old daughter ‘Rhonda’ onto said stage and the beautiful little girl sang in front of that once stuffy now fluffy and totally thawed out crowd. And exactly 50 years later, that same girl is now a beautiful 53 year old woman and amazing singer in her own right, and again, just as she did back then as a kid, she walked onto the stage to duet with her mum, who is Diana Ross. Imagine Diana Ross being your mum. Me? I’m fucking crying here. Like a baby. So what!!! And Mrs. Tangerine? She’s crowd-surfing on a sea of tears, reminisce and memories. 

It’s almost too daft to laugh at, this gig is a meeting with the mum you’ve never even met before, after thinking for years that she’d died in a horrific boating incident. There were tears, snot and hugs with strangers without a hint of embarrassment.

We’re now 90 minutes in and she’s still kickin’ it. Must be all the Adrenochrome. More costume changes, more bombs from both her Motown and RCA Nile Rodgers period. All killer, not one ounce of gristle or filler. 

Then she’s off. But the crowd are not leaving, this is a love-in, a peaceful protest at curfews. The tickets said onstage 7.30 in the PM, finish at 9.30. It was now 10 o’ clock and there’s a stampede to the front cos she’s changed her outfit and she’s back on. And this time she’s bollocking the stage security for getting a bit heavyweight with the crowd moshing at the front. Security look shamefaced, that look you had when you got caught by your nan smoking her cigs when you were 12. That type of shamefaced. One song encores can fuck themselves, this is a Ken Dodd 90 minute overrun (bless you Ken). Then the universally dreaded words “This one is from the new album…” fill the auditorium. But this time no one groans like the time when I went to see ‘Wire’ at the Brudenell. I mean, a sax’ solo? Fuck me!!! No, Diana’s new album is really fucking good, and you can trust me on that cos I’m a catholic. Besides, me an’ Mrs. Tangerine listened to the album on the way to somewhere in Scotland last year and we didn’t skip one track. Although we were high on love and MDMA at the time.

Then, at 10.40, a full hour after final call, a final crescendo, a few more final hugs, more final kisses, then gone. Although she did briefly come back on, just to spread more love, just for a moment.

And so that was Diana Ross…

Diana Ross whose music soundtracked my lifts to special school as a kid, the Diana who soundtracked my formative years of hedgehopping, nicking bottles of Malibu from Prestos and searching high and low for my brother’s jazz mags, the soundtrack of nicking my sister’s Diana albums and playing them when she went out to the Boy’s Club, this was Diana whose voice is still as smooth and nodule free as a nun’s tuppence. 

Diana Ross, the female Featherweight Champion of Soul, a walking positivity machine, a hard as nails consummate professional who has been at the top for her game for over 50 years, a real royal without the pomp and paedophiles, thank you for one of the best gigs I have ever witnessed in my young, young life. 

So, after hanging around outside the Royal Albert Hall for a while, trying to catch a glimpse of Ms. Ross, even though she had probably fucked off by helicopter about half an hour ago, we slowly clip-clop our way back to the cheap, rat-infested flophouse we booked on Tripadvisor. After a few Daiquiris, I’m now loose, loved up to the eyeballs and I’m in the mood for love, some sweet, sweet real love. I’m not so sure about my good lady though, she’s already got the earplugs in. Undeterred, I stick ‘Touch me in the morning’ on the yoobtoob app. Oooooh yeah baby, oh yeah, Mrs. Tangerine knows what’s a coming her way alright, I can feel her stiffen up. Slowly, but surely, I make my move…I am a cobra, in for the kill and in for the gravy, she’s all yours, putty in your hands, softly softly, nice’n’sleazy…then BOO YA!!!

“What the fuck are you doing?”, she cries. I think it was a rhetorical question. 

“Oh, errr, nowt love, I think I’ve lost a contact…”

“Well ‘urry up an’ find it, a dunt want you darn thee’er pissin’ abart all neet”

“Oh, okay, sorry love”. 

Now on other nights, I would’ve cried myself to sleep over that, but not tonight, and for that I’ve got to say thank you to Diana Ross, thank you for making me impenetrable, thank you for the night of my life and for loving us in only the way you can. Hardcore. Like Ginger Lynn.

So there we have it, and for now, thank you and goodnight. 

I am Pelican Tangerine and I keep it locked and loaded. 

*Diana didn’t walk out using a zimmer frame. I used a hilarious allegory to convey the fact that, at 80 years of age, Diana Ross is an octogenarian and is still able to rock over 5000 people at the Royal Albert Hall to such an incredible level that I can only come to one conclusion, and that is that she is a fucking alien and not of this earth.

**Diana didn’t stop midway through to have a dinner consisting of steak and kidney pie with chips an’ gravy followed by strawberry blancmange, brought to her by an assistant. Again, I used an absolutely hilarious, crazy and almost ridiculous allegorical approach to convey the notion that at 80 years of age, other people, like my mum for example, would be sat in front of the telly in her bungalow watching ‘The Chase’ with Bradley Walsh, wondering what time they’re having their dinner and not be over 4000 miles from her home singing anthems in front of a frenzied, sold out Royal Albert Hall. Understand me yeah?