Films accompanied with a live orchestra have been going from strength to strength with audiences for the past few years now. La La Land has just finished a live sell out tour around the UK and the Royal Albert Hall has been the home of these events recently. Star Trek Into Darkness, Harry Potter, Jaws, Independence Day and even Christopher Nolan himself doing a Q&A before Interstellar was performed live with Hans Zimmer at the helm at the Royal Albert Hall. The question many of the fans of these events have been asking themselves for years is: “when will James Bond get the live treatment?”
James Bond and the Royal Albert Hall have gone hand in hand over the years. Die Another Day received its world premiere here to make the 20th 007 romp and the grand old building was turned into an Ice Palace for the night. Skyfall brought Bond back to the venue to toast the 50th anniversary, and SPECTRE also had its world premiere there in 2015. So earlier this summer it was announced that Casino Royale would be the chosen Bond movie to get this treatment beating off so many great Bond movies synonymous with great scores and music. Sadly the day the tickets went on sale, news had just broken before the 9am scramble for tickets that Chris Cornell, singer and collaborator of the opening title classic, ‘You Know My Name’, had tragically taken his own life. These events are always a great tribute to the music and the movie; this also became a beautiful tribute to a rock legend.
Arriving at the Royal Albert Hall for the world premiere of Casino Royale Live in Concert, the DB5 was waiting outside the main entrance with fans from all around the world posing in front of the iconic car and a few die hard fans in their white or black tuxedos, posing with the ultimate accessory. Before the concert kicked off, David Arnold took part in a Q&A event and spoke about his love of Bond as a child and seeing You Only Live Twice for the first time in Luton, far away from the mysterious and foreign Japan. Arnold has scored five different Bond movies and his passion and knowledge for the job is second to none. He’s always a great character to listen to and learn from when he talks about the craft of soundtracks.
Finally, the event kicked off and like all these events, it’s impossible at the start to know if you should focus on the orchestra pit, the big screen, switch between the two or close your eyes and just kick back. When ‘You Know My Name’ kicked in as Bond shoots down the barrel for the first time, the orchestra and strings exploded into life and was complimented by Cornell’s powerful vocals. The song has never sounded better and like Craig’s 007, it could’ve smashed through a wall.
The Casino Royale score is different from nearly every other Bond soundtrack as it doesn’t use the iconic John Barry theme until the very end; but that’s not a bad thing at all. The film is filled with so many great “Big Bond Themes”: the 12 minute showdown at Miami Airport builds and builds to a brilliant climax that had the audience bursting into a spontaneous applause, Bond holding Vesper in the shower showcases a tender piano piece, a rare moment in Bond soundtracks that focus on the big and the bold.
The highlight is without a doubt the (well earned for Bond and the audience) James Bond Theme by John Barry that climaxes the movie. David Arnold returned to the stage to play the guitar piece of this famous musical number. If you ever get the chance to hear that music live, then it’s worth every penny. I never tire of it! Three sell out screenings over a weekend prove the popularity of these events and the demand for James Bond events like these. I don’t think it will be long before we get another 007 movie performed at the Albert Hall. With an incredible back catalogue, the opportunities are truly exciting about what could come next.
Which James Bond film would you like to see performed with a live orchestra? We’d love to know!