SOARING spirits and symphonies managed to keep the looming clouds at bay for the celebration of the last day of the Proms, writes DUNCAN RIEDER.

Returning to Stadium Zipworld, BBC Proms in the Park Wales 2018 assembled an impressive array of stars to join headliner Katherine Jenkins for another sensational evening of classical music, gratefully received once again by a warm Colwyn Bay crowd.

Despite the constant threat of a downpour - and the odd shower here and there - the defiant and resilient audience were firmly lodged in their camping chairs and ponchos all night, determined to enjoy the Proms and a picnic whatever the weather.

The infectious energy of the crowd didn’t let up for almost six hours, rivalling even the jubilation presented in each successive performance that flowed from the stage.

As would be expected from the Last Night of the Proms, songs were selected to rouse and celebrate - there wasn’t a trace of stuffiness or a hint of danger of being brow beaten by thundering epics here.

Unsurprisingly, the setlist for the night's proceedings leant instead, appropriately, towards the contemporary and musical showstoppers, with songs such as Pharell Williams' Happy and the obligatory sea shanty 'Jack the Lad' maintaining the jovial atmosphere both on and off the stage.

Warm up acts False Alibi and Rhyl singer Bethan Tomkins clearly received the memo before hitting the stage, with the former’s cover of Tina Turner’s Rolling on the River the first tune to coax the crowd onto their feet, and Don’t Look Back in Anger by the latter - who was present during the Manchester Terror attack - particularly poignant.

Fans of the 2017 smash hit film The Greatest Showman were especially blessed, with Jenkins and West End star Lee Mead taking on a song apiece and the film even receiving the medley treatment from the stomping and imposing youth choir Only Kids Aloud.

As for the headliner, each time Wales’ premiere mezzo-soprano Jenkins graced the stage in one of her elaborate frocks, a collective gasp of awe seized crowd before she wowed time and again with the masterful power of her consummate performance.

A towering rendition of The World in Union was quite possibly the highlight of the show, and the star looked truly thrilled to be performing in Wales once again.

The audience repaid Jenkins in kind, particularly in their breathless contribution to Keep the Home Fires Burning, which was screened to homes throughout the UK as the climax to piece to mark the centenary anniversary of World War I’s end.

Other highlights included flag waving audience participation for Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, which segued into a huge, ‘big band’ rendition of Nina Simone’s Feeling Good by a commanding Mead - in his first ever Proms appearance - which then neatly led into the modern and punchy BBC Young Musician theme before the introduction of the incredible Lauren Zhang.

One to watch, the BBC Young Musician 2018 winner Zhang dazzled with such impeccable and clear form playing with the amazing BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales in a recital of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1 that somehow still managed to be greater than the sum of its parts.

Also noteworthy were the sterling efforts of the presenters Josie D’Arby, Dylan Price and co-host conductor Tim Rhys Evans, keeping spirits up before the show when the threat of the heavens bursting seemed a foregone conclusion.

However, a mention must be made of the peculiar decision to admit the crowds before sound checking and rehearsals were completed - without any information readily apparent warning the audience that they would be seeing 'works in progress' upon arriving at the stated time.

Thankfully, rather deadening their impact, all of the acts held so much in reserve that each piece felt truly fresh when it hit the stage and there is something to be said about being granted a look into in the entire process of staging such a wonderful sound.

It is that kind of inclusivity that the Last Night of the Proms is truly all about.

A soul lifting evening that reminded casual and die hard fans of classical music alike just how powerful and unifying music can be - come rain or shine.