007 sounds

The Music of James Bond

QPAC, Concert Hall

October 18

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“The Music of James Bond” begins, appropriately, with multi award-winning singer Kate Ceberano slinking onto the Concert Hall stage in a sparkling gown befitting her opening number, ‘Diamonds are Forever’. It is a look and belting sound very much suited to Shirley Bassey’s smash hit and with delivery of its tremendous expression, dramatic flair, soulful emotion and intrinsic glamour, the audience is easily assured as to the quality of the show to come. When Luke Kennedy appears to deliver a crisply crooned ‘From Russia with Love’ (stepping up from guest appearance role due to original performer Michael Falzon’s ill-health), the stage is well and truly set for an evening of entertainment in celebration of the spy film franchise’s music.

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For over 50 years, the thrilling exploits of the world’s greatest spy have been accompanied by the world’s finest theme songs, making the night’s set-list a spoiled-for-choice scenario. With the full live symphonic sound of a 20-piece orchestra, every number is elevated in its experience, especially our revisit of the ubiquitous main signature James Bond theme, which allows for audience appreciation of how its instruments layer atop each other and especially of its percussive notes and the distinctive rhythm of its famous guitar riff.

As thorough as the Bond theme collection is, however, time is also taken to visit some other spies with a dynamic instrumental “Mission Impossible” theme, complete with rollicking urban samba sounds, and jaunty “The Spy Who Shagged Me” spoof theme song. Even Kate Ceberano’s own ‘Untouchable’, written with Paul Kelly, makes an appearance within the repertoire as her version of a Bond song.

The comprehensive catalogue of the Bond collection means that we hear the songs of a range of artists over the course of the evening… Gladys Night, Nancy Sinatra, KD Lang and Carly Simon, amongst others, and experience songs in a range of styles. From the light touch of Burt Bacharach’s ‘The Look of Love’ delivered in duet, complete with a little cha cha across the stage, to the bombastic rock of Paul McCartney’s epic ‘Live and Let Die’, orchestrations are a treat for the ear, aesthetically enhanced by gorgeous stage lighting.

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“The Music of James Bond” has all the ingredients for a superb, nostalgic celebration of an iconic film franchise, starting with its ‘quantum of soloists’, conducted by Mr 007 himself, the always charismatic Guy Noble, who bring the brilliant arrangements of the world’s finest theme songs to life. They add a light touch but also symphonic grandeur to Kennedy’s romantic ‘For Your Eyes Only’ and pair Ceberano’s powerful ‘Goldfinger’ with lush brassy orchestrations and horn sounds.

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Ceberano is sensational. Her vocals are on-point, making for many standout moments, such as her ballad ‘Skyfall’, in which she succeeds in making abstract lyrics emotionally moving. Kennedy, too, delivers some tender moments in ‘Writing’s on the Wall’, although it is his Act Two opener, catchy ‘80s classic ‘A View to a Kill’ (the only Bond song to hit Number One of the charts) that serves as the real highlight, full of dancey fun and very Duran Duran.

With all of its components considered, “The Music of James Bond” cannot be anything but a joyous experience of shared celebration of timeless hits. Its only pity is its one night only programming.

Photos c/o – Darren Thomas