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Friday, 5 November 2010

BOND music with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

The big, bold and beautiful Royal Albert Hall needs something equally epic to fill its great walls: The Proms, Cirque du Soleil, and now The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

This Halloween I was kindly invited to a concert by the RPO for a night of the best of Bond music. With the clocks changing that day, the night was particularly dark and cold, and the Royal Albert Hall felt like a welcoming and warm refuge for the evening. In the car on the way we tried desperately to remember the most famous Bond theme, but couldn’t and instead came up with Mission Impossible and the Pink Panther tunes. We walked in humming these substitute songs deliberately to confuse other audience members. All a bit silly, but it seemed to us a hilarious idea at the time.

We had great seats in the stalls opposite the centre of the stage, just below the royal box, as the woman behind us pointed out. Eventually the players came on stage conducted by the animated Carl Davis, who seemed to enjoy jumping about at the helm. The orchestra played with real gusto, obviously enjoying the change of programme from the usual classical repertoire. Two vocalists: Mary Carewe and Simon Bowman sung the vocal numbers.

I loved the fashion show aspect of the evening. Soloist Mary Carewe must have showcased at least four outfits during the concert! She had a smooth luxurious voice that conquered every song, and plenty of confidence that suited the bravado music. Bond girl Honor Blackman was a stunning presenter for the occasion; in case you don’t remember she was Pussy Galore in the film, Goldfinger. She wore two glittering gowns, gold for the first half, and black for the second, and sat at a small table next to the orchestra, commentating on each of the pieces of the night.

I enjoyed most the songs that I recognised... and there were more than I realised. With such a large orchestra plus all the extra drummers, bass and guitar players the sound was electrifying. ‘Diamonds are Forever’ and ‘Live and Let Die’ were fantastic as well as, of course, the famous theme tune... I had remembered it by the time it was performed!

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