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  1. 'James Bond Spectacular' Concert: A Review

    Previously announced by CBn was the ‘Live And Let Die – James Bond Spectacular’ concert, which took place on 11 August 2006. Conducted by Nic Raine, it contained a set list highlighting music of the James Bond films from the past to the present.

    CBn forum member Satorious attended the concert and shares his review of the event:

    Written by CBn forum member ‘Satorious’

    After a somewhat disastrous journey to Southampton, we eventually arrived at Broadlands for the Nic Raine ‘Live And Let Die’ concert featuring the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO). This isn’t the first time I’ve seen them, I’ve seen the BSO once before at the Bournemouth International Centre, doing a film music night – which was pretty damn solid. At that event they played a wide variety of scores one of which was a Bond suite (essentially a mix of Goldfinger and From Russia With Love), so I knew they would be good. Broadlands itself was a lovely setting, perfect for this type of outdoor concert. The seemingly threatening weather had improved somewhat, and although cloudy still, there was now blue sky. The only downer really was that because we arrived late we, we were nowhere near the front. There seemed to be several thousand people spread out with tables/chairs in front of us, obviously a popular concert. Beside either side of the orchestra stage were two big screens to show the orchestra in action, along with various Bond clips and photos/posters. Thankfully, we could still just about see things on the stage also. It is announced that at 8pm, we kick off (30mins after the advertised time, but it allowed us extra time to set ourselves up with food). Then the orchestra arrived and did their tuning. I remember it seeming like quite a small orchestra for Bond themes – possibly between only 40-60 musicians, although perhaps I’m wrong (didn’t do a count). At 8pm prompt, it began:

    From Russia With Love Suite:

    Started with the traditional Barry instrumental credits version. Goose bumps at the opening blasts and the Bond theme at the end. Then mixes into the ‘Zagreb Express’ music. Always liked this bit in the film, shame it’s not on the original soundtrack – but Raine more than does it justice here (and I’m glad he does do justice to some of these otherwise lost unreleased cues). Next they play the romantic cue after the gypsy camp is destroyed. This was a nice romantic piece with an acoustic guitar. Then it goes into chirpy ‘Golden Horn’ music. Oddity this one, feels more like a track from a Disney movie or something, and not in the film (but on the soundtrack). Nice piece all the same. Then things get tense for the ‘Gypsy Girl Fight.’ Goose-bumps again, and a great rendition from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Plus they have some girls up dancing to this track – neat touch. Then came a cue I was suspecting all along, Barry’s 007 theme which accompanies stealing the Lector scene, as well as countless other scenes from future films. Great to hear it live! Okay, that was almost 12 minutes of music. To be honest I wasn’t expecting anything near that length. Really nice surprise! Even if it’s downhill from here – I’ll be happy enough.

    Diamonds Are Forever:

    Nic Raine speaks for the first time to introduce someone called Kerry Ellis. This is the point where dread entered my body. I have to confess, I was expecting an instrumental version of the themes, and I have heard some truly awful singers do the Bond themes (they aren’t easy to sing). An attractive blonde enters the stage, looking rather elegant. The orchestra begins, it sounds like another slow rendition of the Barry instrumental version from the Nic Raine album. Ho hum – this could be painful I think to myself. Kerry sings Diamonds Are Forever earlier than expected. Hmmm… She sounded a little like Goldfrapp. Then she sings a few a more lines, okay – not terrible I think. Then the brass kicks in. Okay, fear starting to be alleviated, she can more than hold her own against the orchestra. Plus the tempo picks up considerably. As it goes on, I am totally won over, along with everyone else in our group and the audience. “Blimey, she can sing” says a guy near by. Indeed, she is nothing short of stunning – especially considering it is live. She did slip up slightly on the lyrics – but only people who know them off by heart would pick it up. Otherwise, it is flawless. She holds the notes as long and strongly as Shirley Bassey (particularly noticable at the end). Kelly Ellis managed to put some of the more recent Bond singer to complete shame. Absolutely awesome, the hairs on my neck were standing on end after this.

    Licence To Kill:

    Okay, Nic Raine introduces the next singer for this track – and somewhat surprisingly it’s a man (Chris Holland). I must confess I felt really sorry for him at this point (following up the previous act was nigh on impossible, and he never stood a chance). Of course, it couldn’t eclipse Diamonds, but it was still a good rendition. No backing singers for the chorus seemed to be the most noticeable difference with this rendition. The singer himself at first reminded me of those annoying boy-band/ballad singing Pop-Idol type acts, who try and make the song their own. Ah well, nevermind I thought – the theme was never one of my favourites anyway. It’s not that it was particularly bad, I have heard far far worse versions – the orchestration was fine, and Chris wasn’t even bad. To be fair, I remember him holding the last note of the song really well for a considerable amount of time, thinking “he has potential, this just isn’t the best place to showcase him”. It just wasn’t going to top the spine-tingling Diamonds or the 12 minute opening suite.

    Goldfinger Suite:

    “Another suite, sweet”, I thought. And Goldfinger too, oh, the excitment. Nic Raine announced the dancers back again. By now it was more than apparent anything “Suite” would be an intrumental intepretation, and anything “non-suite” would have a singer. I was wondering what other tracks might be played if this was a suite: the ‘Laser’ theme, the ‘Fort Knox Dawn Raid’, even the superb swaggering ‘Into Miami’ perhaps? Maybe this will be another faster paced rendition of the title song? Despite the powerful opening brass, this was the pretty standard orchestrated version, quite similar to the version on his album (and similar to the scenes where Bond is quietly driving the Aston Martin through the Alps in Switzerland). After about two and a half minutes the cue ended with a bang. Once the Bond theme started kicking in, the pace and the brass pick up considerably, the goose bumps come back once more. However, this was not to be a From Russia With Love type suite again. No further cues from the movie were played. Ah, well – there was no way he could fit all the favourite cues into the length of concert anyway. Perhaps the 12 minute opening From Russia With Love cue was just to kick start things, and no further incidental music will be played.

    You Only Live Twice:

    Nic Raine introduces Kerry back, and makes a few charming comments about how she looks. Obviously the style is quite different to Diamonds, so the audience is curious to see how she will perform this time also. The awesome strings start (the ones that Robbie Williams used for Millenium). Kerry is much more sultry and restrained in this song, the way it should be. In the middle there is nice bit where the orchestra play instrumentally for a bit, which worked very well. Once again a lovely rendition, another of the highlights.

    For Your Eyes Only:

    Nic Raine says something along the lines of “now Kerry becomes Sheena Easton in For Your Eyes Only.” Again Kerry makes a slight slip in the lyrics, but it isn’t particularly noticeable. Her voice is particularly impressive in the chorus. A great rendition, but if I am being picky, I have to say I preferred her You Only Live Twice.

    Moonraker Suite:

    Back to the suites. Nic got a few laughs from the audience when he said something along the lines of “And now we are going do a suite from the film Moonraker, which has lots of spacey type music for you to enjoy… perhaps even more if you’ve had a few Pimms”. I must confess after the Goldfinger suite, I was expecting it to be little more than the romantic version of the Moonraker theme. However he started with a cue not on the original soundtrack again. The ‘Drax Chateaux’ cue begins. Very nice and mellow. It then breaks into a very fast paced version of the Bond theme for the free-fall music from pre-titles. Another unrelease cue. Wow! The hairs stand up on the neck again. I wasn’t expecting this at all. It sounded better than the version he released on his Bond and Beyond CD. After this adrenaline rush, things slow and go romantic as the main Moonraker theme (love theme version) is played. It was only a short version, but very nice all the same. I always thought this theme is somewhat under-rated (along with All Time High). Then we go into the ‘Bond Lured To The Pyramids’ cue, another unexpected bonus. I have always adored this track, it’s one of my favourites. It sounded totally incredible, despite the fact the vocal choir weren’t featured (and to be honest – the rendition was so fantastic – you didn’t miss their absence either). I suspect these slower cues may have sent some of the audience members into sleepy mode after the more dramatic stuff, but I was absolutely lapping all this John Barry-ness up. Then we get the ‘Flight Into Space’ (one of the longer cues). The funny thing I remember is that a plane started flying overhead at the time, and as someone else pointed out – it fit perfectly with the music accompanying it. Someone else joked, I can just see Timothy Dalton parachuting out of that any second. Despite the smaller orchestra size, the BSO were really doing these suites justice. Despite the superb opening suite of From Russia With Love music, Moonraker had just raised the bar; this was the suite to beat. It was an absolutely gorgeous 9 minutes or so. I certainly wasn’t expecting the suites to be anywhere near this type of length, or cover quite as many themes.

    Thunderball:

    Not one of the more memorable Bond songs (probably down to the fact Barry had to rewrite a title-theme at incredibly short notice). Nic welcomes Chris back, so I give him a second chance. To be honest, I’ve heard some pretty weird renditions of theme in the past, most being quite slow or ponderous. This was quite a fast and faithful rendition luckily. Chris began singing it more like the David Arnold version with Martin Fry, but sounds more like Tom Jones by the end. He really went for it on holding the last note (the one where Tom Jones almost passed out at the end). He is better suited to this song by far, it is big, bold, brash and brassy. Not an easy song to do, so this was very nice. He totally redeemed himself here.

    James Bond Theme:

    Nic announces that this would be the last song of this half, a point where many Bond fans would want to shout “woo-hoo”. However, this really wasn’t the type of event for such shenanigans – I wisely kept quiet. Nic Raine’s opening blasts to this always sound strange to me even now, not up with the Barry versions. But after these, he does something quite cool. He keeps the electric guitar for the opening part and then he switches it to the orchestral version the second time it’s played. It worked incredibly well. The theme itself was played twice through, it’s quite a short theme otherwise. It was full of jazzy swagger, and ended on a Mancini-esque blast; a perfect end to the first half.

    The Living Daylights Suite:

    The second half begins, and I won’t deny – this was probably the suite I was most interested in hearing. This is partly because Nic Raine worked with John Barry as the orchestrator on this movie, and partly because the Necros theme is probably my favourite Barry action cue (some of the stuff from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service rates a very, very close second). I remember thinking “What if he does a Goldfinger suite and doesn’t play it? It would put a mild dampner on my evening. Anyway, it kicks off with the main theme (which is quite similar rendition to the ‘Hercules Take-off’ version, but follows the A-ha theme a little closer at the start). It’s a rousing start, and at the end it goes quieter to fade into the Kara (‘If There Was A Man’) love theme music. Nice, but I’m still willing him to do the Necros theme, and I’m getting scared that these may be the only two tracks played. There is a millisecond break at the end, and I suspect the worst, he will turn – the audience will clap. Just then, a couple of sinister bars from the A-Ha theme play, I think I know what is going coming next and twitch nervously… I’m right. A superb rendition of the ‘Necros Inflight Fight’ theme. Sounded even closer to the original Barry versions than his CD versions. I was truly in pure Bond heaven now. I never thought I’d get to hear this track played live by an orchestra. It was a totally electrifying experience for me. It wasn’t the full version, it was cut a little short, not that I minded. I guess the suite was a little shorter – perhaps about 5 minutes. He had a nice little story at the end. He said he working on the film was a pleasure although the producers were a little bit anxious about how Timothy Dalton would be received in the film at that time. Cubby Broccoli asked Nic his thoughts about Dalton in the role. Nic said: “I like him because previously they had Roger Moore, and Dalton has the menace of Sean Connery, but there is a compassion about him.” Cubby then said “Hmmm – very interesting”. Later in the day, there were some guests coming in to view the recording, and Cubby said to them: “You know, I like Timothy. He’s got the menace of Connery and some compassion”. He then went on to say that he hoped Daniel Craig doesn’t have the same problems Dalton faced. I hope so too!

    Nobody Does It Better:

    A popular song, but really not one of my favourites. Kerry was welcomed back to applause, she did a fine version once more. This was started off more of an orchestrated version (harp and string), rather than the traditional piano beginning, however it ended up being very faithful. The general audience probably appreciated this song more than me, but it was a great rendition of the title theme all the same.

    We Have All The Time In The World:

    Chris is welcomed back on stage. Again, I felt sorry for the guy, he really got the bad deal from the songs he was given. To follow in the warm tenderness of Louis Armstrong’s vocals in the original just won’t happen. Nic makes some comment about how he lost his laryngitis last week, so he won’t sound quite like Louis. At least that sets the audience expectation I thought. Plus it gives you an appreciation of how much these vocalists put their voices through for the performances. Chris did it his own way, the orchestration was as lovely as ever. Right at the end – Chris did a fantastic Louis Armstrong impression on the last line “Only love”. This got a good laugh from the audience, who warmed to him. I suspect one or two of them were thinking “Why couldn’t he have done this for the whole song”. Anyway, it was nice to see the guy finally getting recognition also.

    Ride To Atlantis (The Spy Who Loved Me):

    A nice easy going swaying number from the film. It was a faithfully orchestral rendition (I preferred it to the soundtrack version). As with most of the soundtrack from The Spy Who Loved Me, half of it isn’t in the film. No matter, it’s a catchy jazzy piece, there was a lot of swaying fluorescent head boppers moving to this one (which is nice to see for a lesser known track). As an extra bonus, he played one of my other favourite cues from this soundtrack: The tanker. The BSO were thundering this track out, it was superb! Another of the many highlights. I guess this suite was about 5 minutes or so. It wasn’t even labelled as a suite either.

    Tank Chase (GoldenEye):

    Nic says something about how music can enhances scene, and that they are going to perform one of the unreleased cues from the GoldenEye soundtrack to the on-screen action, without the sound effects to demonstrate. I found this highly ambitious, we wait whilst Nic syncs up the orchestra with the onscreen action transmitted over the big screens. This worked reasonably well, although it was clear that the orchestra and Nic weren’t able to see the onscreen action. It went a little out of sync towards the end, but you got the general idea. It was another of those things that made this concert quite unique.

    Ice Bandits (The World Is Not Enough):

    Nic did the same things with the ‘Ski-Chase’ theme from The World Is Not Enough, I felt this worked better than the ‘Tank Chase’. I was really curious to see how this turned out, as the original David Arnold track was quite electronic. I have to be perfectly honest and say that this orchestrated version seemed miles better (proof towards techno being vastly inferior in Bond to timeless classical orchestration). Rousing stuff indeed.

    Tomorrow Never Dies:

    Kerry welcomed back. To be honest this was the only one she slipped up on. It all started very well, but just before the chorus, she got a bit carried away with it. She clearly demonstrated she is a superior vocalist to Sheryl Crow, but ended up over-cooking it as a result. To be fair, she is amazing at holding her voice for a sustained period of time, as shown towards the end. This track was never a great favourite of mine, although I don’t mind it. I’d have preferred Surrender, that would have suited Kerry’s powerful voice more. By now there are lots of fluorescents swaying and it’s dark enough for a laser show to accompany the song.

    The World Is Not Enough:

    Nic announces that they are about to perform an instrumental version of The World Is Not Enough and mentions something about how parts of it were quoted in ‘Ice Bandits’, and how composers develop melodies to change the atmosphere. Surprised Kerry isn’t back singing again, considering it’s a reasonably faithful orchestration. This is quite a relaxing track with the lasers going into hyper-drive when the chorus kicks in. Quite enjoyed this one.

    Live And Let Die:

    Nic welcomes both Kelly, Chris and the dancers back on stage. Chris mostly performed this one, and did a fine job. This track got people rocking, myself included. Superb, the orchestration was particularly impressive. By far the best vocal performance from the second half. If Chris Cornell’s track turns out anything like this one – I’ll be more than happy. The track had the laser show again, and the Live And Let Die main-title credits were played on the big screen to accompany the song. Things are clearly working their way up to a finale.

    On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Suite:

    Nic announces a selection from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It begins with the pre-title credit Aston Martin scene part going off with some lovely fireworks. The Bond theme is still giving me goose-bumps or perhaps it’s just the temperature (a high-pitched electric guitar is used instead of the synthesizer). Then things move to ‘Gumbold’s Safe’ music. I love this cue, it’s repetitive, but builds tension very well in the film. This was clearly a quicker version to hold people’s attention span. This is another track I am glad to say I’ve heard live (it sounded a little more faithful than on the Back In Action CD). Things then take a romantic turn, ‘Bond Meets The Girls’ – lovely trumpet solo. This mixes into the lovely ‘Who Will Buy My Yesterdays?’ track. Then it happens. The trumpets kick-in (the prelude to the ‘Ski Chase’/OHMSS theme). Fireworks begin going like crazy. Wow this track is brilliant for fireworks. The ski chase is shown on the big screen also. The electric guitarist goes crazy in the background – which is very funny and even has a couple of orchestra members laughing. They really went for it with this track. The fireworks were everywhere, the music worked very well (I guess even on screen Blofeld is setting off flares). This was a high to go out on. The suite must have gone on for just under 10 mins or so.

    Encore – Peter Gunn:

    Not that we were expecting any more, we got Henry Mancini’s superb Peter Gunn theme (which sounds a bit Bondy anyway). A fun rendition, a hip song to end on. It was a cross between the Mancini original, and the Art Of Noise version. Everyone seemed to be clapping along, and the fireworks began again. I hear the BSO like playing this one as a finale occasionally. The fireworks kept screaming even when the song and orchestra had finished (there were several minutes worth non-stop after the song). Clearly a lot spent on the firework budget, and it was worth every penny of the entrance for this alone. My wife even commented she had never seen quite so many fireworks in one go before.

    Reflection:

    This was by far one of the most awesome Bond music events I’ve been at. I saw John Barry at the Royal Albert Hall a few years back, and I don’t think much could ever top that, but this did come a lot closer than I had expected. Any Bond music fan/geek who didn’t go sadly would have really missed out. There was so much variety, almost everyone would have liked some part. I was perhaps a little surprised that the You Only Live Twice ‘Capsule In Space’, or a A View To A Kill suite (which Raine was also involved with) wasn’t played – but that’s just me. It definitely exceeded my expectations, and was worth every bit of the pain we endured getting there.

    Guest writer @ 2006-08-19
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