Bond. James Bond. The movies go hand in hand with the theme music. Maybe even, in some cases, the songs eclipse the actual movie. Oscar nominations and wins prove that point, actually!
Thus and therefore we have concerts and performances centered purely on the classic Bond music over the past five decades and further thusly 007 in Concert was performed in the Marina Bay Sands MasterCard Theatre on the 19 and 20th January. British conductor, Pete Harrison, led his 28 piece orchestra accompanied by two vocalists (Laura Tebbutt and Tim Howar) for the more…vocal…of numbers
It was an excellent night all around and musically a treat for sore ears which are bombarded by a mish-mash of fake music vomited out of taxi radios and Uber Food scooters on a daily basis.
The concert was done (thankfully) chronologically which means starting off with the “we all know it” James Bond theme from Dr. No. Continuing through, one would argue, probably the most richest and charismatic suite of songs from the Sean Connery era. From Russia With Love (Matt Monro), Goldfinger (Shirley Bassey), and Thunderball (Tom Jones) are absolute belters of songs. Vocally exploding at various times they are a magical trio of theme songs that befit the era and ooze secret service and danger. You Only Live Twice takes the James Bond theme in another brilliant direction. More swinging and soothing vocals by Nancy Sinatra which still exudes Bondism; intrigue, dangerous romance, and secrecy. Amazing. Diamonds Are Forever wraps up the (real) Connery era with Shirley Bassey annunciating the words as only she can. The song perfectly portrays the major roles women have in the Bond universe.
All songs were delivered perfectly by Tebutt and Howar who both did an amazing job all night.
Let’s not forget On Her Majesty’s Secret Service with George Lazenby. It actually had two amazing songs; both the instrumental theme music of the same music (a masterfully Barry composed spy-laden swooping musical number) and the sentimental Louis Armstrong We Have All The Time In The World. Sung, on the night, by a local guest singer it was well sung but a bit smarmy; like a drunk wannabe Bond waiting to leech on a couple of nuns.
On to Roger Moore; my era’s bond. Live and Let Die was done as an encore (which I missed as Mrs. Horizons was falling asleep). I’m sure it was great and rocking! This era was one of female lead vocalists and a general theme of slow-paced reflective pieces. Carly Simon’s Nobody Does It Better is a classic; a melancholic nod to Bond’s trail of influence he leaves behind him. Radiohead (who will pop up later) covered this at some point; check it out. Shirley Bassey’s Moonraker was skipped over for some reason with an instrumental from that movie played. Sheena Easton’s For Your Eyes Only keeps up the Moore era theme of the female perspective; a little schmalzy for me but still a strong song. All Time High (originally sung by Rita Coolidge) from Octopussy was sung by a local singer whose dress almost passed her butt cheeks. Great voice but, yeah…Also probably the weakest song of the night. Tebutt did a great job on all the other songs.
Moore and Dalton overlap thematically for me with two songs/movies. And the conductor agreed as they played them together. A View To A Kill (Moore) by Duran Duran and The Living Daylights (Dalton) by A-Ha are both quite a dramatic synth-pop turn after all the female driven thematic era of Moore Bond music. I like them both though and they are also songs I remember from the time. Both performed well by Howar on the night. Dalton’s final movie as Bond License To Kill I actually don’t remember if they played it….(Gladys Knight sung the original)…Hmmm. I’m sure I would have remembered….odd..
Pierce Brosnan time, to be sure. A pretty weak run of songs here in my opinion with Tina Turner’s Goldeneye being the only powerful Bond song from the era. On the night they bundled them altogether too as they really don’t warrant any major time separately. Sheryl Crow’s Tomorrow Never Dies is okay if not a paint by numbers run through of a Bond song. The World is Not Enough by Garbage (how the hell did they get that gig?!) is pretty…garbage to be honest. Die Another Day by Madonna is up there with the worst of the Bond songs ever. All sung admirably well on the night by Tebutt again.
Finally the Daniel Craig era. Howar took on Chris Cornell’s You Know My Name from Casino Royale (with a very nice “this one’s for you Chris” before singing) and did it justice. It’s hard to do Cornell. Some instrumental from Quantum of Solace followed (I think) before the final two recent Bond songs. Adele’s Skyfall is a hark back to classic Bond songs whilst Sam Smith’s Writing On The Wall from Spectre will always be a little too..weird for me as a Bond song. It doesn’t help knowing Radiohead’s Spectre was booted for Smith’s cracking-glass-high-pitch effort. Rejected for being dark?! It should be and it suited Spectre a million times more than Smith’s song. Smith won an Oscar though…maybe I’m out of touch with reality.
Both Tebutt and Howar did well (with Howar doing his utmost with Smith’s crazy high vocals) with these show enders.
Also played during the set was The Pink Panther theme and a medley of American cop shows; most notably Police Squad! Welcomed.
I’ll leave you with what could have been…
That’s it. Surprisinghorizons will return in….Another Blog Post.