BBC Edinburgh Castle concert stars to rock city

Kaiser Chiefs' Ricky Wilson gets warmed up. Picture: Greg Macvean
Kaiser Chiefs' Ricky Wilson gets warmed up. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Dressed in casual summer clothes, Katherine Jenkins looks like any 34-year-old admiring the views from Edinburgh Castle on a warm July evening.

However, the Welsh mezzo-soprano hasn’t come to the Capital just to see the sights.

Wearing little make-up, hair tucked behind the ears, Jenkins cuts a figure of deep concentration as her powerful singing voice reverberates around the Castle Esplanade.

In front of her – blissfully unconcerned by what’s going on around him – a joiner drills holes into a piece of wood while his colleague gets busy with a saw.

A few people holding walkie-talkies also appear to be doing something important; meanwhile, a Dragoon Guard can be seen practising his drumming rudiments.

The remainder of Jenkins’ “audience” – a handful of producers, PR people and technical staff – pause to applaud her rendition of classical crossover hit, Barcelona, even though they’re only listening to a soundcheck.

So this is what it’s like to be behind the scenes at the biggest musical spectacle to hit the Capital in over a decade.

With only two days to go until Edinburgh Castle hosts a live concert for BBC One, you’d be forgiven for thinking the mood leading up to Saturday night’s variety performance would be one of frantic activity and high anxiety.

Sure, there’s some scaffolding yet to be assembled. And, yes, co-ordinating a vast array of star-names backstage is no mean feat. Nevertheless, the atmosphere is one of calm.

The only real sense of confusion comes from a couple of tourists who have gathered at the foot of the Esplanade. Stood behind a large mesh curtain at the entrance, one asks the other if it’s really the Kaiser Chiefs playing onstage: “No, I think it’s Franz Ferdinand.”

Shown ahead of the Commonwealth Games’ opening ceremony in Glasgow, some of those appearing during the weekend’s broadcast include Jessie J, Kaiser Chiefs, Culture Club, Smokey Robinson, Rizzle Kicks and Paloma Faith –to name but a few.

However, the stage is just as impressive as the line-up. Flanked by two giant IMAX-screen pillars – everything from floating musical notes, to colourful images of castles and cathedrals appear – the transparent roof and open back will ensure TV viewers are in no doubt about which city the concert is being beamed from.

The reason for this, BBC producers maintain, is because Edinburgh Castle is the most iconic image of Scotland.

Looking out across Edinburgh, post-soundcheck, Katherine Jenkins concurs: “I’ve played in Scotland many times and always loved the warm welcome you get from a Scottish audience. Edinburgh is such a beautiful and historic city, and I’m delighted to be part of this special night.

“The line-up is incredible, and having the chance to perform in front of the city’s iconic castle is the icing on the cake.”

Presented by The One Show’s Alex Jones, more than 8000 people are expected to take their seats on Saturday night for BBC Live at Edinburgh Castle.

The question is: will you be taking them on the Esplanade or your living-room couch?