James Bond 60th. Anniversary

The Sound of 007 is the sound of Dame Shirley

(special thanks to Peter, Susan and John)

Thirty years since we had last seen Dame Shirley Bassey at The Royal Albert Hall, on 4th October we headed to the iconic venue once more. To hear the iconic songs. Performed by the iconic singer.

As we walked ever nearer to the venue, we reflected on all the times we’ve seen The Dame over the years. The first was in 1991; the last in 2016 at the recording of her 80th birthday programme. But we’d not seen her on a stage since 2009 and that Electric Proms to end all Proms – electric or otherwise.

Born in the year ‘Never, Never, Never’ was released, The Dame has been – and her concerts have been – the soundtrack to our lives; and here we were almost half a century on going to witness her top the bill at a concert dedicated to the film franchise that has been part of all our lives for even longer.

Although billed as the headliner of the Sound of 007 concert, Dame Shirley actually opened rather than closed the show. What this meant was that, in reality, there were two concerts on Tuesday evening. Dame Shirley’s performance. Then the rest of the show. Or another show if you prefer.

You’ve all seen the images. You’ve all seen the videos. You’ve all seen the reviews. You’ve no doubt seen some of the online chat.

So, instead of talking about all that, let’s talk about the atmosphere.

From the minute Michael Alexander walked on stage, there was magic in the air. The orchestra started to play ‘Diamonds are Forever’. And suddenly there she was: The Dame. In gold. Bejewelled. On stage. At The Royal Albert Hall. Once more. She’d come home. At last.

Just seeing her stood there was very moving. Witnessing the reaction even more so. She’s been such a huge part of our lives for so long. As for the standing ovation, it was the standing ovation to end standing ovations. Thanking her for all she’s bestowed upon us for almost the whole of her life. Thanking her for still being here.

She performed ‘Diamonds are Forever’. The response was rapturous. With another standing ovation.

Then came ‘Goldfinger’. Ditto. And ditto.

Except this standing ovation seemed to run on and on and on…with not a bit of the applause going to waste.

But while the ovation ran on and on and on, sadly, Dame Shirley did not go on to perform our favourite Bond number. For us, ‘Moonraker’ is the most beautiful of her three songs, indeed the most beautiful of all the Bond songs. Alas, it has been performed far too little and was not at this show. We’d have loved to hear it sung with her voice as it is now…but that’s just pieces of dreams.

And, then before we knew, Dame Shirley exited. The Dame’s ‘Sound of 007’ concert had come to an end.

Another ‘Sound of 007’ concert then followed, compered by someone called David Arnold. We think that was his name. He mentioned something about the roof still being on. Did he also say something about us spending the rest of the evening recovering from the 10 minutes we’d just experienced? Who can tell? Our heads were still with Dame Shirley.

Seriously, the rest of the show was excellent. Applause is due to Mr Arnold for it. The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra was superb. And was conducted superbly by Nicholas Dodd. Don Black gave a funny and touching tribute to John Barry. We all owe the late Mr B a huge amount.

Various instrumental pieces were interspersed with various singers performing some of the franchise’s songs. But no matter which songs were being done, and no matter who was doing them, all you were doing was thinking: Dame Shirley would perform this so fabulously.

She truly is the sound of Bond, even though her name is attached to just three of the songs. As the couple next to us leaving The Royal Albert Hall said, ‘Shirley Bassey was the highlight, without a doubt.’