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Last night, June 20th, was the memorial concert for the late John Barry, who passed away earlier this year. A sad occassion? You bet. But also happy, in that it was one of the warmest gatherings of friends I've experienced and a truly remarkable concert to a packed Royal Albert Hall.

What made this concert special? Well, to a great extent, I think what you take away from a concert is what you bring to it. In this occassion, we were all bringing our love and memories. At the Riverside restaurant of the British Film Institute, we remembered friends old and new, past conversations,old stories, old record shops, you name it. At The Gore hotel, we continued.

So, what of the concert itself? Well, the program was not in itself a revelation but the performance was splendid. Well, there were a couple of shaky moments in the first half. Rumer messed up a line in We Have All The Time In The World and the harmonica, whilst performed well, came in shriekingly loud at first. By contrast, Derek Watkins was truly sublime in his perfect trumpet solo of Playing By Heart, Nick Dodd made the James Bond suite come alive more than I've ever heard and what can we say about Shirley Bassey? On May 12, my birthday, the West End's legendary gentleman projectionist, Dave Norris (sat about twenty yards to my right on this night), treated me to see Bassey sign Goldfinger live at the Classical Brits. She was awesome. She was again this night. There's something about seeing and hearing Shirley Bassey knock out Goldfinger that is just electrifying.

Perhaps what added to the special-ness of the event was the persons-in-presence and tributes. John's son Jonpatrick introduced the conductor. Laurie Barry thanked everyone at the end. Barry's sister June Lloyd-Jones was present (I was kindly introduced to her and I can tell you she was so sweet) as were other family members including daughter Sian. Our much reverred writer Jon Burlingame and wife Marilee Bradford were in attendance as were, I'm sure, many other names well known here.

Michael Caine seemed to choke just a little as he said, "Last time I was at the Royal Albert Hall, it was to introduce John Barry. Tonight, it's to say Goodbye." (Caine also got a laugh when he re-told the story about how he lodged with Barry while he wrote Goldfinger. As he said, "When I went to bed, John was still at the piano. When I got up, John was still at the piano," and, "I was the first person to hear Goldfinger. And I heard it all night.")

George Martin and Don Black were equally generous. And David Arnold made me smile when he said, "I'm sure John Barry is here with us in spirit. In the auditorium. In the instruments. And in the bar." (Forgive me if I didn't get that quote exactly right.)

Of course, talking about music is, as it was once said, a bit like dancing about architecture. And even the experience of being there can't be truly conveyed in words. Except to say, it was special.

The show was interspersed with clips from shows such as Drumbeat, the Omnibus special on John Barry and Moviola.

The playlist:

Sir Michael Parkinson - introduction and tribute

Jonpatrick Barry - introducing the condutor

Goldfinger - instrumental

The Knack

Sir Michael Caine - tribute


The Ipcress File

Somewhere in Time

Don Black - tribute

Born Free

Midnight Cowboy (harmonica: Julian Jackson)

The John Dunbar Theme

Nicholas Dodd - tribute

We Have All The Time In The World (vocal: Rumer)

Part Two:

Sir Michael Parkinson

Body Heat (solo sax: Nigel Hitchcock)

Remembering Chet (solo trumpet: Derek Watkins)

Out Of Africa

The Beyondness Of Things (to a photo history projected to the large screen)

Ave Maria (Wynne Evans standing in for the advertised Alfie Boe) (Chosen as it was one of John's favourite pieces.)

A Blessing by John O'Donoghue read by Timothy Dalton

Tick The Days Off One By One (solo guitar and vocal by David Arnold)

The James Bond Suite

Sir George Martin - tribute

Diamonds Are Forever (vocal: Shirley Bassey)

Goldfinger (vocal: Shirley Bassey)

Flower presentation and thanks from Laurie Barry

Encore: the James Bond theme with David Arnold on guitar

Some links:

(Thanks to my Barry fan friends for bringing these up.)

And, finally, let me name check some of the wonderful Barry fans who met for the pre-concert gatherings: Geoff Leonard, Pete Walker, Gareth Bramley, Ruud Rozemeijer, Ian McDonald (Ian, can you re-tell me that one about when Alan Warner showed you the original, signed and stamped manuscript of The James Bond theme?), Dave Wooley, Andrew John, Peter Senior, Peter Greenhill, Tony Weeks, Colin Callaghan, Nigel Martin, Jerry Daly (who worked catering during the making of the The Omen in 1976 and can, I tell you, show you some very interesting behind-the-scenes photos, as well as photos from the 1972 Barry concert), Mark Langdon, Adam Cousins, Graham Sutton, Keith Calnan, Raphaël Tchelebi (check out his Trackzone blog) and forgive me if I failed to mention you.

Here's to John.

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Comments (33):Log in or register to post your own comments
By the way, there are also YouTube links but I'm going to let others present those ...

Nicholas Dodd raised up the score sheets, held inside their binder, several times during the final part of the concert. Rather like the captain of a football team holding the world cup in triumph. For some reason, it is writ large in memory and always will be.

It was a magnificant, moving evening.
Nicholas Dodd was superb as was David Arnold, really glad we took the effort to go.
It makes you love his music and the man even more....Thank you for the lovely music Mr Barry.

Steve, were you at The Gore? Apologies if I didn't see you!

By the way, there are also YouTube links but I'm going to let others present those ...

Your blog post really sums up the evening rather well. I apologise for interrupting your conversation in The Gore, but thought I'd say hello at the very least!

Hey Adam, no problem at all. I wanted to say hello to as many people as I could! I'll add you to the name check! Apologies I forgot to list you before! :-)

Gentleman Projectionist ? Stop it Steve you are making me blush. Anyway,here are some real gentleman...

I surgest anybody who wasn't there,click on these links to see what you missed.

Thank You David Arnold for organising such a marvellous evening. Everybody who was present will never forget it

Goodbye John,God Bless

Dave x

and no DVD/blu-ray of this??? COME ON!

Thanks for posting this wonderful write-up Steve, and for namechecking me. It was a truly remarkable evening, one I'll certainly never forget. Firstly, it was lovely to meet so many people who before yesterday had only been names and perhaps photos on a computer screen, but now when I read their posts here and elsewhere I'll remember their enthusiasm and love for John Barry and his music, something we all celebrated yesterday. The concert itself was majestic. Not flawless perhaps, but passionate, emotional, real and true. There were so many moments when the energy in the air was palpable, so many moments when the emotion of the evening filled up inside and caused goosebumps or made shedding a tear inevitable.

I intend to write something a bit more detailed and post it on my facebook page and here when I get a chance, but I want to mention one moment that really sent me over the edge into weeping due to very personal reasons. My father (who loved Bond incidentally, saw all the films except For Your Eyes Only on the cinema and loved Barry's music too) passed away in 2004. I was 27. So I know what it is like to lose a father, and also to feel like I didn't have enough time with him as I was too young when he went. When John's son Jonpatrick carried a bouquet of flowers over to his mother at the end of the concert and gave her a huge hug, I thought to myself that he is younger than I was when I lost my father, had even less time with his dad then I did. So it really hit me. And he looked out at the huge audience, at all the people who were there to celebrate his father, and I wondered how amazing it must be to know that all of those people were there for his dad and for what he and his work meant to them. I'm probably not explaining it very well, but I felt it was really beautiful yet bittersweet. Well, I cried...

Steve, can not agree more this was a very special evening and it was nice to be part of it, your article is excellant and this evening will never be forgot.

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