THE MUSIC OF BOND
“It’s the kiss of death from Mr Goldfinger”
A review by Hans Rimmstein
No film franchise in history has ever had such an important and influential link between the movie and its music than Bond. There are constant rumours and theories, and when a new theme is finally announced it makes global news and splits the opinions of fans worldwide. There was no split in opinion tonight, however , as a sold-out Royal Albert Hall was shaken and stirred by the emphatic Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gareth Hudson.
With electric guitar and bass, full drum kit and seven percussionists, this was a rocking and full sounding RPO that really brought to life some of John Barry’s scores. The show opened with that iconic theme – brass blaring and strings swooping; a sucker punch of a start. They also did a great job in highlighting some of Barry’s lesser-known Bond moments, the tantalising tension of ‘Ski Chase’ from ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ was a delight. Other orchestral highlights included the rhythmic samba of ‘Welcome To Cuba’ from ‘Die Another Day’ and a fantastic string led version of ‘For Your Eyes Only.’
The two singers took charge of the rest of the themes with aplomb. Matt Ford sang with great technical prowess – I just wished some of his performances weren’t so ‘by the numbers’, songs like ‘The Writings On The Wall’ and ‘A View To A Kill’ fell a little flat on energy. He still gave a powerful performance of Thunderball, slightly falling backward after the power of the final note which apparently made Tom Jones faint after he recorded it.
The undoubted star of the show, however, was Alison Jiear – who took the helm for the female-led themes. She eloquently changed into the roles and vocal ranges of Bassey, Knight, and Adele as easily as her numerous costume changes into dazzling dresses. Her performance was exciting and her own personality and charm carried through on all of the songs. The softer moments of ‘Moonraker’ and ‘You Only Live Twice’ left your hairs standing up, and her rendition of Skyfall awarded her a well-deserved standing ovation from the rapturous London crowd.
In fact, the whole evening managed to breathe a renewed sense of appeal into some of the modern bond tracks. ‘Casino Royale’ – a theme I couldn’t even recall – was a bombastic and rocking number, down the RPO’s world-class brass section. ‘Quantum of Solace’ (one of the silliest Bond titles of all time) is another theme I had cast off to the back of my mind, but it turned into a foot stopping show closer, performed as a duet with Ford and Jiear. It was great to see these and other less loved hits get a rebirth on the stage.
A special mention should be given to Anthony Horowitz – our stand in guide for the evening. He was charming, hilarious and the perfect compere due to his extensive knowledge of Bond. Horowitz aptly mentions one memorable scene in ‘The Spy That Loved Me’, where Roger Moore ski jumps off the alps, releasing a parachute of the Union Jack. An act of unabashed patriotic symbolism. Tonight felt the same – a quintessential celebration of an iconic part of British culture performed stunningly by all involved.