Monday, 19 November 2018

Review: Shaken Not Stirred

ELEGANT and sophisticated, I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Joanna Lumley.

ELEGANT and sophisticated, I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Joanna Lumley.

Dressed in a black and white suit with diamond earrings, she seemed the perfect host for this orchestral Bond theme.

All that was missing was an Aston Martin to transport her to the stage — rather than the BMW provided by the festival sponsors.

“The name’s Lumley, Joanna Lumley,” she proclaimed in her introduction before the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra launched into the Bond theme. Then Alex Bourne took to the stage to sing Thunderball in an opening salvo which included an impressive note-hold at the end. He continued with Goldfinger before Hannah Waddingham took over vocal duties with From Russia With Love and The Spy Who Loved Me.

At this point, Waddingham perhaps lacked that stage presence needed to command the floating stage and her rendition of For Your Eyes Only failed to reach those high notes.

Lumley, who spent most of her time sat at a “bar” to the side of the stage, intervened between tracks with snippets about the history of Bond and musings about “Danny” Craig.

This was all fine to begin with but after a while it was more and more contrived and became like a musical/panto rather than a night out at the proms.

Admittedly, dancers Kristina Rhianoff and Robin Windsor were welcome distractions but again Lumley, after the first of three performances, demonstrated the pointlessness of populism by brandishing a “10” as a nod to the BBC show Strictly Come Dancing.

It wasn’t until Licence To Kill, past the midway point of the set, that the show really got going as the sound of the orchestra ramped up to full volume.

Waddingham then started to outshine Bourne. Appearing in a red dress (her third outfit change of the night), she commanded attention as she effortlessly sang Another Way To Die as her singing partner seemed to run out of steam.

The Philharmonic played throughout like a tight well-oiled machine and when the singing matched the playing, it was a joy to behold.

Undoubtedly, the best was left to last as Waddingham belted out Skyfall and the audience sang along with her. The standing ovation which followed was fitting recognition for their efforts.

It was great entertainment — but if only the filler was cut out, perhaps there could have been a few more songs.

Shaken And Stirred: The Music of James Bond

Saturday, July 13

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