Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Q The Music In Concert

A Q To A Kill

Q The Music...
James Bond Concert Spectacular

17th March 2019 - Adelphi Theatre, London

Regular readers of this blog (and I know from my stats there must be at least a few of you) may remember that I’ve gone on record as being not a big reviewer of music and rarely write up any of the many concerts I’ve been to in my life. Although I absolutely love music, it’s not a medium I feel confident to talk about with any level of expertise, or even competence for that matter but, occasionally I will go out on a limb and try to do something because a concert has either been an exceptionally good experience, such as concerts by Hans Zimmer (reviewed here) and Brian Tyler (reviewed here) or, once, an exceptionally bad experience such as the Star Trek - The Ultimate Voyage concert from 2015 (reviewed here). In fact, as far as concert reviews go, I think those three were the only ones I've put on here so I’m pleased I’ve found another concert which was both fun and exciting enough... not to mention having a certain amount of authenticity where it was needed in relation to the original recordings... to report on here.

Now I’ve seen a lot of the greats of film music composers both conducting and performing over the last four decades, many pf them more than once. Ones I can remember off the top of my head are Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, John Williams, Ennio Morricone, Goblin, Fabio Frizzi, Clint Mansell, Brian Tyler, Hans Zimmer, Michael Giacchino, Murray Gold, James Newton Howard, Howard Shore, Danny Elfman, Zbigniew Preisner and perhaps more pertinent to this particular concert... John Barry, George Martin and David Arnold. I’ve also seen live performances to movies handled by other conductors but I don’t like those so much because I prefer to hear the music without sound effects when I see such things. And the concerts I really have a problem with is when a random conductor leads ‘cover versions’ of various composers works and does ‘an interpretation’ of a ‘concert arrangement’ of a piece which, frankly, does not sound much like the originals...

The reason I’m making this point is because, when my friend ‘Doctor Rob’ rang me up to see if I wanted to go and see this concert with him my first impulse was... thanks but, no thanks. However, in the end I turned that into a strong yes for two reasons. Reason number one was that the concert was supposed to be compered by Madeline Smith and Caroline Munro and, if you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that Caroline Munro has a special place in my cinematic heart and I wanted to see her performing from a script rather than just meet her at the signings I regularly attend when she does one in London (there’s one this Saturday in Camden Town if anyone is interested). As it turns out, this first plus point didn’t go quite as planned but... I’ll get to that in a minute.

Secondly, I clicked on the video link on the concert promo page and, asides from one of the singers doing some really nice vocals of various Bond tracks (I’ll get back to Kerry in a little while too) I thought the orchestra was getting really close to an authentic ‘John Barry sound’ on the clips... rather more so than pretty much anyone else I’ve heard trying to go for that as, believe me, Mr. Barry’s orchestrations are pretty hard for a group to get right live, in my experience. So, yeah, I thought I’d give them a go and... I’m really glad I did.

So I sat in my seat at the Adelphi Theatre with my friend, flicking through my newly purchased programme (okay, it was an expensive tenner but it’s one of the more substantial programmes I’ve ever bought at a concert, to be honest and well worth the money). Bond music from the various movies was being played on some loud speakers for ambience while we waited for the show to begin. I loved that Caroline Munro had four pages to herself in the programme and... well... it was such a shame that although she was originally billed to be there, she’d been replaced (presumably last minute because there were no slips in the programmes and no announcements that we could hear) by Caroline Bliss, who played Miss Moneypenny in the Timothy Dalton era. However, both Miss Bliss and Miss Smith did an excellent job of compering, as did the mind behind the orchestra Q The Music, Mr. Warren Ringham, who wrote their scripts and plays both Trumpet and Flugelhorn in the show.

And, I have to say, it was a treat from start to finish.

The show has two singers in Matt Walker (who handles the majority of the male vocals, although not all) and the absolutely incredible vocal talent of  Kerry Schultz, who also does all of the female vocals and some of the male vocals too. Now, it’s not just songs either. The show was jam packed with Bond stuff and although roughly three quarters of the shows are dedicated to truly awesome versions of various Bond songs (not only the title songs either) there are also instrumental cues listed in the programmes as ‘Special item - To Be Announced’ and these further highlight just how well this ‘band’ are able to nail the James Bond sound. For example, we were treated to some quite meaty and lengthy suites from Goldfinger (Into Miami, Odd Job's Pressing Engagement and Dawn Raid At Fort Knox), A View To A Kill (including a beautiful solo performance by a lady who's name I can't find listed in the programme) and The Living Daylights too.

However, some of the cues scheduled for the evening had to be dropped, from what I understand but, well you certainly can’t complain that this orchestra and vocalists, who were on their feet for the best part of three hours, didn’t give us value for money. And it was an absolute pleasure to hear Miss Schultz belt out tracks like Live And Let Die, GoldenEye and Another Way to Die. I also liked the two accompanying dancers who would come out every now and again, matching Miss Schultz, costume change per costume change and who were especially fetching in their latex and boots combos... but that’s probably something I should comment less on here.

One of the nice things also, about the band, was the way that when featured instruments had a significant contribution to the proceedings, such as on cues like On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Bond ‘77, the people playing would step out of the orchestra to the front so you could see them doing their thing. That was pretty good.

As an encore for the show, they did one of my favourite Bond songs, Surrender, from Tomorrow Never Dies and that was a great one to end the evening on. Mr. Ringham did intimate that a version of Backseat Driver was also scheduled for the performance but, alas, they just ran over time and couldn’t squeeze it in. Mr. Ringham also, asides from Caroline Bliss and Madelaine Smith, told some absolutely wonderful stories from both fans of the orchestra (one who found inspiration battling cancer stands out) and also a brilliant anecdote about Sir Roger Moore which I’d never heard before. It really was a good evening.

Now, there were some ommissions that would have made the concert even better for me... if I wanted too much of a good thing. Renditions of 007, Capsule In Space, Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Look Of Love, Where Has Everybody Gone (vocal version) and Die Another Day were not included in this performance. However, in all of those cases, they are in their repertoire and you can see them performing these in concert in all the usual places you can find such stuff on the internet (including their web page, which you can find a link to at the end of this article). However, in the case of doing a credible version of a less substantial song such as Die Another Day, well... I can see why they dropped that one.

There was also a double CD and a double DVD of one of their concerts for sale in the foyer... which meant I ended up unintentionally spending a lot of money that evening when I didn’t mean to. These are also available to purchase, along with a few other things, at their website.

My one bugbear of the concert was that they neglected to play what is, frankly, the greatest Bond song ever written... one which I still don’t know why other people don’t acknowledge as the best. But, there you have it, the absolute awesomeness of Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown? from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was not included. What the heck? Maybe they’ll include it in June when they are playing a night at Piz Gloria in Switzerland but, well, it was a bit of a blow that this one didn’t make it onto their list yet. Would have been better than some of those awful Daniel Craig songs that the band here somehow managed to respin into musical gold, I reckon.

That being said, Q The Music’s James Bond Spectacular was still one of the best concerts I’ve been to in years and I certainly hope to catch them when they make it back to London, for sure. If you are a fan of the world of Bond and the wonderful, musical soundscapes from the films... well this is probably the only way to experience this range of material done in as pleasingly an authentic style that you can possibly get out of a live concert situation. Heartily recommended and you can visit the group on their home page at https://qthemusicshow.com/ to read about them, hire them, watch and listen to them and just generally get involved. I can’t wait for them to head my way again sometime soon. Nobody does it better.

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