On the weekend of 29-31 May, Florida’s Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra celebrated James Bond in style with a concert that included some of the most popular themes featured throughout the 007 series.
This ‘Bond, James Bond’ concert was led by noted American conductor/composer Carl Davis and featured the vocal talents of UK superstar soprano Mary Carewe.
CommanderBond.net Forum member Carlos Perez attended the grand event along with members of his family and now presents his report on the main page.
‘Bond, James Bond’ Concert: A Review
Written by Carlos Perez
Back from my trip. My grandparents decided the tickets for this show would be a nice first-year anniversary present for the wife and I. The wife’s a Bond fan by proxy, at first she impatiently sat through them, but when she realized the level of obsession with which I felt about Bond, she learned to accept it as an important part of my life. I was worried she would feel shafted with this anniversary present, but it turns out she was excited and had a wonderful time. My parents and grandparents went with us. I won’t bother you with my life’s history, but just know that my dad introduced me to Bond when I was nine years old, so they all knew the films, the music and my obsession. As such, they all enjoyed the show very much.
Prior to the concert, they had an Aston Martin outside for people to pose with, and I knew the guy who transported it from Orlando to the show, so he let me sit in it. Do I really have to describe how cool that car is?
Inside the lobby, there as a poster display with an eight-foot, original Goldfinger similar to the one-sheet but with more pictures. They also had a huge Thunderball poster of the panel where Bond lifts off with the jet pack, this poster was about six feet by six feet.
And they had martinis. And we drank martinis. Multiple martinis. Drinking the “Casino Royale” martini, as they called it, was nice (even though their bar-back couldn’t supply Lillet). I noticed several people attempt the Bond martini, but unable to finish it. I saw one girl guzzle the bottom-half of a Bond martini just before the show began (no drinks allowed inside) and I would have proposed right there if I wasn’t already spoken for.
I was very happy to see so many people dressed for the show. I wore a linen suit but was worried that I would be overdressed. Fortunately, there is some culture left in the world (even in a town like Jacksonville, where I was born by the way), and men wore jackets and women wore gowns. Some were very decked out in Bond-girl attire, and that was nice eye candy.
Onto the music…
They opened with the James Bond theme, however the conductor, Carl Davis, chose the version from The Living Daylights (ironically, my first Bond experience). It started with a bang and didn’t let up. A great rendition.
Next, “From Russia With Love.” Instead of the theme, they performed the instrumental titles version. This was definitely the highlight of the show for me. The performance of this work was phenomenal, with the loud, boisterous segments juxtaposed with extremely the softer, more melodic moments. Truly a great experience.
Two songs from Goldfinger were performed. The title song, obviously, was sung by vocalist Mary Carewe, whom Bond fans might recognize from her work on The Best of Bond with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Carl Davis. Her range was amazing and she held the last note almost exactly as long as Shirley Bassey did on the original recording.
Secondly, also from Goldfinger, “Dawn Raid at Fort Knox” was performed. This one was especially amazing as the conductor kept precisely to John Barry’s original. Everything from the xylophone to the horns just exceeded perfection. Definitely a crowd favorite that night.
“Thunderball” came next, and although instrumental, was fantastic. The use of horns came wonderfully, and the 60’s vibe came through the symphony hall in spades.
I’m running out of superlatives.
Interestingly, “The Look of Love” from 1967’s Casino Royale was next. Carewe came back out to sing, and this one received a glowing reception when performed. I forgot to mention that Carl Davis provided a humorous and educational commentary throughout the night, and with this work he described Burt Bacharach’s score as being the one redeeming factor from the film. Rightfully, I might add.
“You Only Live Twice” and “We Have All The Time In The World” followed. The first was sung by Carewe and did great service to Nancy Sinatra. I was saddened that the title theme to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was rejected, as I’m sure it would have been rousing. However, Louis Armstrong’s song played beautifully. Performed instrumentally, it was certainly a gem.
Carewe returned onstage for “Diamonds Are Forever” and channeled Shirley Bassey even more than before. This was definitely her best performance of the night and the crowd responded with great enthusiasm. Maybe this was my favorite of the night…
With “Live And Let Die,” the orchestra performed their most rocking tune with Carewe. I wondered if my grandparents would appreciate it volume (it wasn’t all that loud by today’s standards), but they immensely enjoyed it.
The last performance before the intermission was from The Spy Who Loved Me. Before the title song, Davis chose to perform “The Voyage to Atlantis.” Just pop in your soundtrack and listen to this one, imagining it being performed live. I was surprised with this choice but completely enveloped and consumed by its performance. Davis’ admiration of Hamlisch was evident and this work was a joy to experience.
“Nobody Does It Better” came through just as you’d expect: fascinating, gorgeous and wonderful. What more can I say about this one?
Following the intermission, “For Your Eyes Only,” “Moonraker” and “The Man With the Golden Gun” were performed, in that order. Davis claimed “Moonraker” to be his favorite lyrical Bond theme. Carewe sang all three, and, surprisingly, “The Man With The Golden Gun” was the standout. Similar to the performance of “Live And Let Die,” the symphony rocked this number and Carewe danced as she sang. Of these three, this was my favorite.
“The Living Daylights” was performed instrumentally. I am very fond of the soundtrack to this movie, and with John Barry’s brilliant orchestration in the film itself, I was underwhelmed by the performance here. I don’t want to take anything away from it, the tune was beautiful and I certainly enjoyed it, but sometimes you have such high expectations for a live performance that it can’t be met.
If I have one exception to the selection of songs performed that night, it is the inclusion of “Licence To Kill” at the sacrifice of “A View to a Kill.” While the song performed is beautiful and Carewe did a great job with it, I just salivate at the thought of hearing Duran Duran’s brilliant Bond theme performed by such a brilliant conductor.
Eric Serra’s “A Pleasant Ride in St. Petersberg” was claimed to be the next song, but as they began to play, I noticed that this was not the song being performed. In fact, the music performed was John Altman’s version of the tank chase. Certainly a pleasant surprise (I don’t have the extended soundtrack and, thus, have never heard that music outside of the film), the discerning Bond fan took exception. The bass of the timpani and the highs of the xylophone sounded exquisite and precisely modeled after the music from the film.
Fortunately, they didn’t leave out GoldenEye‘s theme. Carewe sang and the drummer desperately tried to emulate Nellee Hooper’s production, but overall the high expectations I held for my favorite Bond theme were not met. However, Carewe managed to take Tina Turner’s performance and make it her own, which was admirable.
“The World Is Not Enough” came next, and with it a wonderful performance missing nothing of the guitars in Garbage’s version. This orchestral masterpiece worked beautifully and certainly surprised me.
Lastly, “You Know My Name.” Different, but good. Unfortunately, the guitars were sorely missed in this one. Carewe did her best, but, surely, would they have ended with that?
The composer came back out and said, “Well, we have a little something…” He went on to explain that there are two types of people in the world, those that leave as a film’s credits roll and those that stay to see the names of the caterer, best boy and accountant in the credits. Those that stayed for the end credits of Tomorrow Never Dies were treated to David Arnold’s theme for the film, “Surrender.” This was amazing, I can’t describe how wonderfully the horns belted the theme and drove home the distinct, Bondian sound. Carewe delivered, too. I cherished this moment, as I never assumed this one would have been performed.
Then, lastly, the obvious. My dad and I waited with baited breath for the words, “A View to a Kill” to spring forth from Davis’ mouth, but we were surprised with, “Another Way to Die.” A fitting end to the show, Carewe took on both Jack White and Alicia Keys to bring this one out and did a very good job. The orchestration was very effective, making the most of the theme and the guitars were not missed. Certainly a brilliant performance of the highest caliber considering that was the first of many future symphonies performing the latest Bond theme.
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