James Bond 007 in Birmingham

Last Friday night I had the pleasure of attending one of the best evening concerts of late featuring, in my mind atleast, an absolutely fantastic world class orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, performing at their home venue the Symphony Hall in Birmingham, playing the music of James Bond.

From the moment we arrived we were transported into the world of 007 with the Monty Norman James Bond Theme right up until leaving the hall over two hours later. The concert took us through a whole raft of Bond themes, including some film underscore, from the early films such as ‘From Russia with Love’ and ‘Goldfinger’ to the latest release of ‘Quantum of Solace’. I think the jury is still out on quite whether some of the more recent Bond themes live up to their older counterparts but their inclusion made the experience complete, even if some of the newer arrangements didn’t perhaps quite use the orchestra to their full capacity.Although Carl Davies was unable to conduct the orchestra due to a minor operation, the concert still had his accessible approach to introducing the orchestra to wider audiences and his last minute replacement – Gareth Hudson – didn’t detract from the evening at all. His description and examples of what has helped define the unique John Barry sound, from the rasping trumpets, particular chord structures and the orchestral beds, were very interesting.

Seated towards the front I was able to experience the power and sheer joy of this mighty sound of iconic and tremendous film music and like so many, I’ve grown up listening to these themes played on the television, cinema and the hifi but these are all no match for hearing this type of music played live and by such quality musicians right in front of you.

The only thing preventing me from going to what should prove to be another amazing concert at the the Symhony Hall (the music of John Williams played by the CBSO) is another amazing concert (he says modestly), that being the second Fordante concert both taking place on the 24th January!