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The Very Best of John Barry concert at Royal Albert Hall

By: Mikael Strm
The very best of John Barry 2013
"The Ear of the Beholder", FSWL contributor Mikael Ström reports from London.

If "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” regarding the visual arts, it´s probably the same when talking about music. There was beauty is in the ears of this listener when I attended The Very Best of John Barry, a concert held on 4th October 2013 at the Royal Albert Hall, London where the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Nic Raine, recaptured the work of John Barry, truly one of the greatest film composers ever who sadly passed away in 2011.

I love John Barry - he was an expert of capturing the mood of a film and making different variations of themes. So good was John Barry that even if you love the songs from the Bond films, they represent only some of the jewels on a 007 soundtrack album.

I was pleased when I saw the program; a well-mixed bag of good and bad scores and as it later turned out to be, both in the selection and arrangement. Nic Raine has a very special style as a conductor: it varies as much as John Barry's music does. In conducting, sometimes Raine hangs laundry intensively on the spot and sometimes his arms float through the air as easily as the bows sweep over the strings.

The selection took us from 1964’s ZULU to 1996’s THE SPECIALIST – from early John Barry to his later period. In between, we could enjoy OUT OF AFRICA, CHAPLIN, BORN FREE, MIDNIGHT COWBOY, the wonderful SOMEWHERE IN TIME and, before intermission, one of my absolute favourites, RAISE THE TITANIC.

In addition, of course, a bunch of James Bond movies scattered throughout the evening; GOLDFINGER, THUNDERBALL and DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER and, a bit more surprising, the choice of THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS, A VIEW TO A KILL and MOONRAKER. The vocalists were Alison Jiear (who dared to take on Shirley Bassey's repertoire) and Lance Ellington (who got Tom Jones, A-ha and Duran Duran on his lot).

If I may be frank, I experienced some ‘musical murders’ during the evening. GOLDFINGER went slightly too slow in pace and was on the verge of unbearable, while THUNDERBALL went far too quickly although Lance Ellington really tried his best. DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER was a good try but Jiears’ version of MOONRAKER was almost better than the original. It sounded like the song was written for her. Lance Ellington then produced two big surprises. His versions of A VIEW TO A KILL and THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS were simply fabulous - especially the latter. Talk about pulling two rabbits out of the hat!

On the whole, it was a very good concert, with many interesting choices and arrangements. John Barry wrote music to soundtrack our lives and while he is at rest, his memory and work is kept wonderfully alive by concerts like this. Full marks to Nic Raine, a colleague of Barry’s, for wielding the baton he was passed with such style.

By Mikael Ström. © 2013 From Sweden with Love.



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