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An Evening with John Barry

The 2006 John Barry Royal Albert Hall concert featuring The Ten Tenors

By Geoff Leonard
 30 September 2006

 On entering the Royal Albert Hall arena well before the starting time of 7.30, there were two surprises. Firstly, no programmes had been printed (we weren't told why). Secondly, every other seat had a CD-sampler (4-track) placed on it of Here's To the Heroes, the Ten Tenors' new collaboration with John Barry. The hall seemed slow to fill and I guessed it was no more than two-thirds full when start-time arrived.

As I'd heard only a couple of days before that JB was feeling unwell, it was something of a relief to see him walking onto the stage at 7.35 p.m.. He was greeted by loud and enthusiastic applause, plus a few screams! He began at once, without a word, and it was as though nothing had changed from those triumphant concerts of the late nineties as he took the orchestra through a powerful performance of Goldfinger, always his concert opener.

But everything changes. With just a wave, he departed the rostrum and Paul Bateman walked on to replace him. And we soon noticed more than just a change of personnel. Bateman was conducting the usual suspects, Born Free, Chaplin, Body Heat and Mary Queen of Scots, but even on these slow numbers, an increase in the usual tempo was very apparent. I don't know if this was deliberate or due to slight unfamiliarity with Barry's repertoire, but it worked beautifully, giving the performances a freshness. Frances was one of the highlights of this first half, which also included Walkabout & Wednesday's Child (both possibly premiere concert performances).

Bateman ended with The girl with the sun in her hair, which destroyed my idea of a possible encore for John Barry. During the interval I could hear a few people grumbling about the lack of a programme – "what was the fifth piece they played?" – but it was also clear they were enjoying themselves and praising both orchestra and conductor. There was speculation as where the Ten Tenors would position themselves as room on the stage seemed to be at something of a premium.

John Barry reappeared at around 8.50 and we thought maybe we would see him performing again. But no, he briefly introduced the Ten Tenors and "our conductor tonight, Paul Bateman". He then departed, not quite quickly enough to avoid an earful of extremely powerful vocal from the TT's opening number. If I had to sum up the TTs, powerful would do it. Though this can be an advantage on certain numbers, and in particular on Here's to The Heroes, for me it doesn't work so well on all Barry's ballads. I still can't get on with We Have All the Time in the World, and the lyrics to "Places" (Out of Africa) are not Don Black's finest. However, they certainly gave it their all and I was impressed at how well they maintained their recorded sound in a "live" environment. They sang all the Barry numbers on their new CD, so many had the opportunity of hearing the three new songs for the first time. It's hard to estimate how they went down with the audience, since everything was applauded with the same vigour! They stood / sat right at the front of the stage, so Bateman had his back to them and conducted with the aid of headphones.

In between, Paul Bateman conducted a wonderful performance of The James Bond Suite. The augmented English Chamber Orchestra was in terrific form and once again there was a noticeable increase in the tempo. This was the best received piece of the evening, receiving prolonged and enthusiastic applause. John Barry returned to the stage for the usual ovation, and was happy to share the occasion with the TTs and Paul Bateman. He himself conducted the final performance, the TTs singing "We Have All The Time in the World".

And that was it. The second half was only about 50-minutes long, from memory, and although this was partly due to Bateman's impressive brisk style of conducting, we could have done with a couple more orchestral numbers to finish off. Zulu would have been a wonderful finale or even an encore for John. Never mind, it was wonderful just to see him again, looking a little thin and frail, as usual, but without any apparent nerves and with a smile on his face!

Here's to next year?

Geoff Leonard

Read 70231 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 February 2015 15:12
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Specialising in book publications and CD releases about John Barry and our book "Hit ans Miss: The Story of The John Barry Seven.

PIA website

Have a look at our old "Play It Again" label website here.

Play It Again Records CD catalogue offered the discerning listener a wide choice of digitally re-mastered recordings from film and television, and rare collections of work from the likes of Don Black and Ron Grainer.

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If you wish to send an email, for example with content for the website, please contact Geoff Leonard:

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A lot more James Bond concerts collected on the link below, I have put them all in this news item. So check it out from there!

http://www.moviesinconcert.nl/index.php?page=concertlist


The Bridgewater Hall - Music of John Barry November 2018

The Music of John Barry

Saturday 10 November 7.30pm
The Bridgewater Hall
Lower Mosley Street
Manchester, M2 3WS

Website

Nicholas Dodd conductor
Andrew Collins presenter
Manchester Camerata

John Barry created some of the most memorable and recognisable film scores of the 20th century, such as Midnight Cowboy, Out of Africa, Dances with Wolves, Zulu and of course much of the music from the James Bond series; his versatility and originality were peerless. His death in 2011 deprived cinema of a true musical great. This concert pays tribute to his life and music with a carefully selected programme, conducted by Nicholas Dodd, who collaborated closely with the composer on his later films. Nicholas Dodd is regarded as one of the leading conductors and orchestrators of Hollywood film music and is a noted expert on, and performer of John Barry’s music. In fact, every James Bond movie from the last 10 years bears his signature.