It’s usually musicians and singers who get all the glory, so it’s rather satisfying to see a composer step out of the shadows and allow themselves to be showcased.
In this particular case, it’s David Arnold. I’ll admit I hadn’t really heard of him before booking this concert, but it turns out that he’s composed themes for major movies such as Stargate, Independence Day and Godzilla, alongside music for five James Bond films from Tomorrow Never Dies through to Quantum of Solace. That’s aside from other work in TV, writing a musical (Made in Dagenham) and as musical director for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. And (which endears him to me just as much), he produced an arrangement of the Doctor Who theme for the early Big Finish Eighth Doctor audio series…
Pretty acclaimed then. And, it turns out, very charming and personable.
He joined the (rather wonderful) Manchester Camerata on stage after they’d played his first piece. Throughout the evening, he regaled us with interesting anecdotes, played (and sang in some cases) along with various pieces and was genuinely good company. He was also joined for two of his songs (one of them Surrender from Tomorrow Never Dies) by acclaimed singer David McAlmont.
I’ll admit much of the music in the first half was from films I hadn’t seen, so I wasn’t as familiar with it, although the resounding Stargate suite at the end of this half suited me down to the ground. One of the advantages of any unfamiliar TV/film music is that it tends to be relatively short, so if there’s something you don’t get into as much, there’s something else along shortly.
Much of the second half was taken up with music from the Bond franchise that he’d composed. There was a brilliant range of music, all managing to echo the key themes that always run through Bond music, while also proving they could have their own identity too. Other pieces played during this half included the Independence Day suite. The encore was a rip-roaring take on the main Bond theme, with Arnold taking the famous electric guitar part – and clearly having a whale of a time!
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable evening. If you get the chance to see David Arnold in the flesh, I’d very much recommend it.