Concert: Of human Bondage, from Dr No to Goldfinger

JOHN BARRY/ENGLISH CHAMBER ORCHESTRA BOND AND BEYOND SYMPHONY HALL BIRMINGHAM

ASK JOHN Barry about the James Bond theme and he groans loudly. "Oh my God, not that one again! It's 30-odd years ago and all I really have to say is that I must have done something right, or why did they hire me for another nine Bond movies?" The famous musical sequence, written by Monty Norman but arranged by Barry for Dr No in 1962, has become one of the most familiar sounds of the century. Its mix of thriller tension and killer twang, together with other seminal Sixties scores such as The Ipcress File, have also helped to make Barry, now 65, an unlikely cult hero for DJs and pop artists in the Nineties.

Asked about his reaction to this, Barry groans. "It was a day job, but no one thinks about things like that. It's nice that Portishead and David Arnold like the music, but really it's because they all went to the movies as kids. That was my experience, too, after seeing Errol Flynn as Robin Hood when I was about three-and-a-half. I always loved music and cinema; they were parallel." He has since scored 120 movies, turned down twice as many (he says), and won Oscars for four of them.

In concert, the opening strains of "Goldfinger" immediately evoke a memorable kitsch frisson. With the 90-strong ranks of the English Chamber Orchestra sawing and parping away for all they are worth (but couldn't promoter Raymond Gubbay have beefed them up a bit more? I swear there were a few inches of stage left unoccupied), the bold and brassy theme sounded great, even without Shirley Bassey. There was a long wait before the rest of the shaken-not-stirred classics got an airing, however, with the rather portentously titled "The James Bond Suite" saved for the finale.

In between came the good, the bad, and the ugly, for not all of Barry's music has passed the test of time - just like some of the movies. Although he's famed for the belting bass and brass textures of the Bond scores, they turn out to be rather untypical compared to the light, vaguely melancholy, and often Celtic-tinged melodies that appear to resurface in piece after piece. The noted Hollywood mouth-organist Tommy Morgan came on for "Midnight Cowboy", and he was good, but you still missed Harry Nilssen's song. "Body heat" was better, with a satisfyingly noirish saxophone solo, but the Dances With Wolves suite seemed perhaps as anodyne as the movie that provoked it.

In the second half, things perked up with a couple of features from Barry's latest album, Playing By Heart, from the forthcoming film of the same name. Abandoning Bond-bombast in favour of quiet, conversational jazz themes inspired by Chet Baker, it successfully re-visited "Body heat" territory, with guest star Chris Botti's marvellously plangent trumpet replacing the sax. "I was a fanatical fan of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet in the late-Fifties, and Chet Baker was just a different style of player: introspective, personal, and very lyrical," Barry says.

His other favoured trumpet player was Louis Armstrong, who sang "We Have All The Time In The World" for On Her Majesty's Secret Service. "He'd been in hospital for about a year and he was very ill when we did it, but he was the most lovely man," Barry remembers. "When we recorded him, he said 'What about the tempo?', and I said 'Anything you like'."

When it eventually came, the closing "Bond Suite" was a killer. The theme itself sounded rather over-manned given the size of the orchestra, but just watching the three rather elderly percussionists rushing back and forth from xylophone to timpani to tambourine was entertainment enough.

As a composer, John Barry may well be a day-job man, but when "Thunderball" begins to roll out its thunder, you would have to be very hard not to marvel at the view.

'Bond and Beyond', with John Barry and the English Chamber Orchestra, is at the Albert Hall on 23 and 24 April, 0171-589 8212. 'Playing By Heart" is on Decca Records

Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Arts and Entertainment
All-new couples 'Come Dine With Me'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne
musicReview: BST Hyde Park, London
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Gamble and Amy Hoggart star in Almost Royal burning bright productions
tvTV comedy following British ‘aristos’ is accused of mocking the trusting nature of Americans
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice