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Casino Royale in Concert at the Royal Albert Hall

The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and David Arnold had a license to thrill in this world premiere performance.

Casino Royale at the Royal Albert Hall
© Royal Albert Hall

11,000 bond fans, many dressed in the signature tuxedos and glamorous evening gowns, witnessed for the first time in cinematic history an entire Bond score played live. The Bond film chosen for this honour was Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale (2006). This firm fan favourite shows the grittier side of Bond as seen in the original Ian Fleming novels.

They treated us to a 30-minute live interview with the composer David Arnold before the screening commenced. Arnold has composed the music for 5 bond films (Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace).

His heart-warming anecdotes about childhood ambitions and meetings with John Barry were inspirational. But, nothing was more touching than his stories of time spent working with the late Chris Cornell. In looking for a partner to collaborate on the opening song Arnold knew he needed someone whose voice could “knock down a wall” (like Bond does in spectacular style during the film). That person had to be Cornell.

Arnold informed the audience that Bond opening songs fall into several categories: the villains, the women, the thrill of the chase. However this one had to be different. It needed to reflect the brutality of this new Bond and serve as a warning to anyone who dares cross him.

After a short interval, the orchestra was soon present warming up and excited chatter rippled through the audience. The lights went down as the powerful opening of “You Know My Name” filled the venue, the film was under-way. Cornell’s original vocals played over the live orchestra as a fitting tribute to a wonderful artist.

You are so engrossed in the film and the music is so seamless, you almost forget the orchestra is there. Even positioned in the higher levels of this magnificent venue, the punctuated trumpets and powerful percussion made their presence known. Casino Royale has the most beautifully scored music of any of the Bond films. Its sweeping romantic themes saw many in the audience shed a tear (myself included).

All too soon we heard Craig utter the immortal words “The name’s Bond. James Bond” and the original John Barry Bond theme thundered through the auditorium. The delighted audience rose in standing ovation, marking the end of a very special performance. During the bows, there was an audible gasp from the audience as a figure clutching a guitar emerged. Tucked away at the side of the main orchestra had been Arnold playing the entire time unnoticed by many.

This was my second time attending one of these special orchestral screenings and it definitely won’t be the last. With such a diverse events list ranging from Bond to Disney to Jurassic Park and everything in-between, there is truly something for everyone.

Photography © Royal Albert Hall

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