The auditorium was plunged into darkness as a video of one of the all-time greatest female artists was shown – compiling from Athens 1958, 1963 Eurovision, her BBC show, and her MEP role at the European Parliament. The lights went up as Nana Mouskouri, recently turned eighty-four – swathed in an elegant floor-length black gown with white knot panel flowing into a dramatic sari – ambled onto the stage with hallmark glasses and black hair; a confection of Benazir Bhutto and Indira Gandhi.
Nana launched with her version of Handel, her trademark reed-like high notes slightly less elastic these days, then followed ‘Scarborough Fair’, and a few words from our guest of honour: “What can I do to make you happier than before? I don't know, I will try, I don't mind about my age, I have no prompters ... music always survives, we are Forever Young.”
She then introduced her four-piece band for a two-hour concert without an interval and she mostly stood throughout. ‘Sa Jeunesse’ by the recently late Charles Aznavour – a lifelong friend – brought rapturous applause, then ‘Try to Remember’ by The Brothers Four, some French cabaret, and Bob Dylan.
The stage was lit red as Nana told us she liked optimistic songs given "troubles don't last, there will always be another good day.” Her set included Elvis, Amy Winehouse, Leonard Cohen's ‘Hallelujah, she bravely tackled Verdi (from Nabucco), and then a gospel-style ‘Amazing Grace’. As the concert closed such treasured hits as ‘Never on a Sunday’ and ‘The White Rose of Athens’ roused the audience to its feet. This was an outstanding evening of nostalgia and friendship and an extraordinary vocal performance by a beloved songstress.