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Capaldi meets Vivaldi as Ken Bruce’s orchestral Chart Hits show makes its way to Dundee’s ‘beautiful Caird Hall’

The radio legend has worked with the RSNO to create an evening of pop's biggest hits - with an orchestral twist.

Ken Bruce.
Ken Bruce's Chart Hits is a joint production with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Image: Supplied.

When Ken Bruce was just a lad and exploring the world of pop music, the first gig he attended was Gerry and the Pacemakers.

It was Glasgow in the early 1960s – and it gave him the taste for the power of live music.

He was hooked on pop music from an early age, listening to the crackle and hiss and din of his transistor pumping out everything Radio Luxembourg could offer.

Now, at the age of 72 he still is, even if he now listens on the highest quality studio speakers every day.

Ken is as much of an authority on music as a fan, which was evident when so many listeners moved with him from Radio 2 to his new show on Greatest Hits Radio.

Ken Bruce.
Ken Bruce has been a fixture on the airwaves throughout his career. Image: Mike Lawn.

Over the years he has presented live shows on radio, and now he is returning to the stage with the RSNO for a run of Scottish concerts to present Ken Bruce’s Chart Hits.

With David Arnold as conductor and orchestrator, Ken has been amazed at how Arnold has created beautiful orchestral arrangements of a wide range of pop classics, from the 1960s to the present day.

Show has something for everyone

“There are some arrangements that don’t simply reproduce the sound of the record. Maybe the song is familiar, but perhaps it’s in a different tempo. What the orchestrations all show, is how well written all of these songs are.”

The setlist (in full below) features everything from the Rolling Stones and Queen to Robbie Williams, Adele, Coldplay and Take That through to Lewis Capaldi, Dua Lipa and Jess Glynne.

Robbie Williams appears on Ken Bruce's Chart Hits setlist.
Robbie Williams appears on Ken Bruce’s Chart Hits setlist. Image: Shutterstock.
Lewis Capaldi (above), Stormzy and Jess Glynne feature for the younger crowd, while golden oldies like Tom Jones and Queen mean there’s something for everyone at the RSNO concert. Image: Kim Cessford/DC Thomson.

Stormzy also makes an appearance, as does Tom Jones. The epitome of something for everyone.

After being a part of the launch presentation team for BBC Radio Scotland in the late 1970s, Ken was tempted down south, but despite his decades away, he has never lost his accent, or his connection with home.

“Of course I still have family in Scotland, and I get back as often as I can but I’m happy to have the opportunity to come to Scotland with these shows, especially getting across to Dundee and the beautiful Caird Hall,” he says.

“With its history it was made for a concert like this.”

‘I’m a radio being at heart’ says Popmaster star Ken Bruce

It’s fair to say that Ken will have played every song featured in the show on radio at some point, always championing those well-written songs, no matter the age or genre.

Ken has embraced multiple generations of new performers, but even for music fans who don’t know their George Michael from George Ezra, the songs will be recognisable to the audience.

“There’s a place for everything,” adds Ken.

Ken Bruce is happy to be returning to the ‘beautiful’ Caird Hall in Dundee. Image: DC Thomson.

“No matter what era a song is from, no matter what style of music it is, if it’s good it’s good. You should never have a closed mind about music. That’s what has kept the job so enjoyable for me for so long.”

He has made the leap to TV with the quiz phenomenon that is Popmaster, but apart from that he’s more than happy being a voice in the corner of the room.

“It’s quite amazing how people have responded to Popmaster over the years and it’s great to take it to TV, but I do feel I’m a radio being a heart.

Ken Bruce on Popmaster.
Ken Bruce on Popmaster. Image: Jamie Simpson/Channel 4.

“Radio isn’t an intrusive medium, but someone is there, keeping you company. That’s why it works so well; it’s a very natural form communication.

“I think it’s got a great future. It was also really pleasing that so many people made the move with me over to Greatest Hits Radio.

“I love radio and I’ve been listening all my life – and music of all types. When I was young you didn’t hear that much pop music on the radio, there was quite a lot of orchestral music.

“So to have these two blended together in these concerts is a beautiful thing.”

The RSNO present Ken Bruce’s Chart Hits at Caird Hall, Dundee, Thursday December 14.

Ken Bruce’s Chart Hits: Full Setlist

  1. Robbie Williams: Let Me Entertain You
  2. Coldplay: Viva La Vida
  3. Take That: Shine
  4. Pet Shop Boys: It’s A Sin
  5. Bonnie Tyler: Total Eclipse of the Heart
  6. Adele: Make You Feel My Love
  7. Stormzy: Blinded by Your Grace (part 2)
  8. Lewis Capaldi: Someone You Loved
  9. Sam Smith: Writing’s on the Wall
  10. Kiki Dee/Elton John: Don’t Go Breaking My Heart
  11. George Ezra: Budapest
  12. Deep Purple: Smoke On The Water
  13. McFly: Lies
  14. Tom Jones: It’s Not Unusual
  15. One Direction: What Makes You Beautiful
  16. Ed Sheeran: Shape Of You
  17. Rolling Stones: Paint It Black
  18. Ellie Goulding: Love Me Like You Do
  19. Jess Glynne: Rather Be
  20. Dua Lipa: New Rules
  21. Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody
  22. Queen: We Are The Champions