Crowds enjoy VE anniversary concert
Published 09/05/2015 | 22:11
Thousands of people packed into one of London's most famous landmarks tonight to watch a star-studded concert celebrating the 70th anniversary of VE Day.
The 1940s-themed VE 70: A Party To Remember at Horse Guards Parade was hosted by the Royal British Legion, with performances influenced by the era from Katherine Jenkins, Pixie Lott, Status Quo and couples from Strictly Come Dancing.
It was part of a series of events marking the anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe and is only the second time a concert has been staged in the parade ground off London's Whitehall.
More than 12,000 spectators including Second World War veterans gathered in front of an aircraft-hangar style stage, which had two RAF spitfires on display.
Dance group Diversity started the show with a routine to Putting On The Ritz before Pointless presenter Alexander Armstrong showed off his singing skills, performing We Must All Stick Together with Britain's Got Talent winners Collabro.
Singers Pixie Lott, Rebecca Ferguson and Laura Wright dressed in 1940s-style military uniform for their performance of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, while Chas and Dave performed two medleys of hits from the wartime era.
Hosted by Chris Evans, the event heard extracts of famous speeches by Sir Winston Churchill read by actor Robert Lindsay from the balcony where the former prime minister delivered them.
Actor Laurence Fox read a poignant letter written by a British Army sergeant to his wife just three days before he was killed in the war.
Speaking backstage, Fox said: "We would be speaking German if people had not sacrificed their lives for this great country.
"My grandad was badly wounded in the Second World War. He got the Virtuti Militari (Poland's highest military decoration for bravery) from the Poles. People are going to make mistakes again if you don't keep remembering.
"You can't forget this. This is one of the most important things to have happened. We need to spend all of our time celebrating the armed forces."
Stage star Elaine Page, who sang White Cliffs Of Dover, said after her performance: "It was all quite emotional actually. I was told before the performance that straight ahead of me under a cover were some veterans of the war. For a moment I thought about them and then I thought I mustn't because I thought I'll well up and become emotional.
"It's an iconic song. Vera Lynn is so much that song.
"It's important to remind us that we don't want war, to remind us how dreadful it was and how many lives were lost."
Tenor Alfie Boe, who performed an emotional rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone, said he wanted to "keep the memory alive of what so many people went through".
"Out of all the celebrations regarding the First and Second World War, this is the really happy, victorious celebration," he said.
The night ended with Jenkins - who is pregnant with her first child - performing We'll Meet Again with Boe.