This is my first post on this forum, so please be kind
I had the pleasure of attending the Memorial Concert on Monday. After battling through some dreadful rain we reached the warmth of the RAH. i was one of those people ho purchased tickets within a minute of them going online.
I will attempt to offer my review of the concert, and please bear in mind these are my thoughts and opinions only. Of course you may agree or disagree, but that is what discussions boards are for. I apologise for the length of this review but I am attempting to give the fullest idea of what it was like to those who were unable to attend.
The concert opened with a very good address by Sir Michael Parkinson
. it included some anecdotes about him meeting Barry in the 1960s when Parkinson was host of the much missed Cinema programme. he then introduced John's son Jonpatrick
. I could not believe how much he has grown since i last saw him appeared on the BBC Omnibus programme from several years back. Jonpatrick handled a very awkward (for him, and nervous in the extreme no doubt), public appearance and welcomed us to the concert.Nicholas Dodd
( who was on absolute top form all evening), launched the RPO
into┬á the instrumental version of Goldfinger
. We were underway with an excellent start. as each piece of music was played the image form the appropriate LP/CD cover was displayed on the large screen above the stage. Through the evening several film clips (taken from the Omnibus programme I believe), were displayed.
The second piece played was the theme from The Knack
. A piece that evokes memories of the 1960s, and all too rarely played.It captured the atmosphere of those days so well.
this was followed by a tribute form Sir Michael Caine
. He was not able to attend, so was shown as video. This for me was the most moving and genuine tribute of the whole evening. HHe recalled the days of sleeping on the floor of John's flat in London and being kept awake for so long while John was composing Goldfinger. Michael's tribute demonstrated so much warmth and it concluded will a very moist-eyed remark that Michael was there at the beginning of John 'big' career' and tonight was a final goodbye. I admit tear were in my eyes at at moment. It really hit me that John was gone and there really would be no more of his wonderful work to look forward to with eager anticipation.
This tribute was followed by the main theme from Zulu
. A superb performance that almost had me looking for Nigel Green standing behind me to tell me in his very calm way, 'steady boys'. the it w the second 'Caine' film score, this being The Ipcress File
. This was played with all of the suspense that this piece had when I first heard it with the film.
Then there was the theme from Somewhere in Time
. Personally i thought this was the best┬á performed of the evening's pieces. Another beautifully played theme that once again this made the eyes watery. it carried all the emotion and heartbreak of the theme.Don Black
then spoke about his working relationship, in fact it was much more than that, a deep friendship, with John. It was accompanied by some good 'Jewish' humour that would have not been out of place at a good wedding, and he quite simply ended with his thought that┬á John 'put the York into New York'. Don then introduced the theme to Born Free
was the next selection. The harmonica solo was played by Julian Jackson
. He carried it off reasonably well, but nowhere as smooth as the concert performance given back at the RAH by Tommy Morgan
back in 1999 when John himself conducted.
Then it was time for The John Dunbar Theme
from Dances with Wolves. This was back to a top-notch performance.
Nicholas Dodd then spoke for a few moments about how at a concert, John simply and calmly handed the baton over to him and said 'off you go'. Surely the biggest compliment he could have given to Nicholas.
Then for me a slight disappointment for me. I really like the singer Rumer
, I have her excellent first album, I think she has an amazing voice, but the performance of We Have All the Time in the World
did not do it for me. This is one of my favourites of John's work. it was not because of the fluffed line when she came in too soon after the instrumental break, that can happen to anyone. She should not be too hard on herself over that. It seemed that she just did not suit the song. It was, and will always be, Louis's song. No-one can ever compare and I would have preferred the instrumental version. Others may disagree, but┬á we are all titled to our own thoughts.
This brought us to the interval on a slightly down note after a very good first half.
Michael Parkinson then opened up the second half with references to the influence of jazz, particularly Stan Kenton, on John's work. he then appropriately introduced two pieces that demonstrate tis perfectly.
The first was Body Heat
. i was expecting a very sultry. almost sleazy sound from the saxophone solo. And this is what we got, courtesy of an excellent performance by Nigel Hitchcock
. the RAH almost took on the atmosphere and humidity of the deep South USA.
Then it was Remembering Chet
from Playing by Heart - a film I have yet to see, though I have the soundtrack recording. Solo trumpet was by Derek Watkins. I thought he played very well, though not keeping the drawn out notes in places as on the soundtrack. Again I have to compared this to Chris Botti's
outstanding rendition back at that 1999 concert.
Two lush orchestral pieces followed. Out of Africa
. What more can you say about this music. Simply played beautifully. Then The Beyondness of Things
, once again spot on.
We then had a performance of Ave Maria
, (one of John's favourite pieces of music), performed by Wynne Evans
- standing in at the last moment for Alfie Boe. Evans voice was superb. Ok it was not Barry's music but my word it was beautiful music none the less. Following this Timothy Dalton
reading┬á┬á a blessing by John O'Donohue, who wrote the book Eternal Echoes
. I believe he became a very good friend of John's over the last decade.
Then a little gem. David Arnold
played solo and sang a Barry song Tick the Days
. I have never heard this before, though I have been since told (by Ruud, this fourm's webmaster- Thank you Ruud), that it is on the CD Here's to the Heroes
. If you listened carefully you could hear 'Barryisms'. This deserves another listen and hopefully also an orchestral recording.
Now it was James Bond time. The suite, as arranged by John in previous concerts. Comprising The James Bond Theme, From Russia with Love, Thunderball, 007, You Only Live Twice, OHMS and Diamonds are Forever
. Nicholas Dodd led the RPO with unbounded enthusiasm and skill.┬á A faultless performance which was met by a standing ovation and him clenching his fists in admiration for the composer. This was a celebratory moment to JB, not┬áa memorial.Sir George Martin
then took the lectern and went on to introduce Dame Shirley Bassey
DSB entered the stage to great applause, and we onto Diamonds are Forever
. Now this may sound contentious, this was sung quite well, but it is not the 1970s anymore and although DSM can belt them out at 74 it is never going to be top rate. The she went on to sing Goldfinger
. Once again it has never been sung by her at any performance as well as that 1964 (?) recording, so for me I┬á prefer to hear the original. Having seen the performance by DSB at he Classical Brit awards tribute to JB, I waited with a little trepidation to see how she would react at the end of the performance. As then, it turned out as if it were the finale of a Dame Shirley Basset concert, not as it should have been, a major part of a memorial concert to JB. A standing ovation came from the audience, but I was disappointed and slightly annoyed that as with the Classical Brits she did not say anything in tribute to John. As I said, it is my feelings, and other will strongly disagree, but it was a night for John and his work.
One question I hope someone can answer is why was Nicholas Dodd replaced by another conductor for DSM's two songs
? The change of conductor was noticeable to the ear, and they were performed almost as a cabaret performance rather with the feeling and understanding that Dodd has for Barry's works. perhaps if he had stayed conducting I would have been happier with the performance. Mind you, Nichols did deserve a rest.
We did get an encore. the James Bond them with electric guitar by David Arnold. Quite a passable Vic Flick impression from David, cracking stuff.
Finally the evening drew to close with a short thank you speech from Laurie Barry
. She sounded genuinely touched by the warmth express by the audience and Jonpatrck presented her with a bouquet.
Nicholas Dodd held the manuscript of Barry's music skyward and mouthed a thank you to JB.
And that was it the evening was over... not a morbid affair, but a joyous celebration of the great work of the man. Then the realisation that there will be no more new music from JB really hit me.. .. but the Guvnor's work will live on forever
Somewhere in Time,
John Dunbar theme,
Out of Africa,
Tick the Days.Disappointments
We Have All the Time in the World,
Midnight Cowboy.What I would have like to have been included
Journey to Blofelds Hideaway (from OHMSS),
Cry the Beloved Country,
Flight into Space (from Moonraker),
The Last Valley,
Mary Queen of Scots.
Saying all that, an excellent evening and a very well thought out tribute to John. Thank you to everyone involved. I am so glad to have been there.
Thank you fellow JB fans for having the patience to read this.