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License the thrill: Orchestra's 'Classic James Bond' is worth every Moneypenny

JaBond-Detail If you live in Tampa Bay and you're blowing off this weekend's series of "Classic James Bond" by the Florida Orchestra, I can only ask: Have you lost your mind, 007?

I caught the Saturday night show at St. Petersburg's Mahaffey Theater and was amazed start to finish. You still have a chance to see them Sunday night at Clearwater's Ruth Eckerd Hall. Here are some highlights from Saturday:

DOC BROWN AS CONDUCTOR: Guest conductor Carl Davis was one of the big stars, taking the stage in black high top tennis shoes and a long gold jacket. With his poof of white hair, he was the spitting image of Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future. Between tunes, he entertained with stories and background of the movies, actors and music.

THE VOICE: Because so many Bond songs do have lyrics -- and a female voice -- Mary Carewe provided the necessary juice, beginning with Goldfinger. Carewe has the perfect voice for this tough job; during the night she had to navigate through tunes originally sung by Sheena Easton, Tina Turner, Gladys Knight and so many more. Songs like The Living Daylights and Thunderball -- song by males -- were done sans singing, with the Orchestra picking up the notes.

SURPRISE HITS: Of course the Dr. No theme and Live and Let Die were dazzlers. But two Bond songs I'm not a huge fan of -- Moonraker and License to Thrill -- ended up being the showstoppers of the night. Give Carewe much of the credit, but Davis and the Orchestra took the material and made it even better live. I'd love to have recordings of either of last night's renditions of those tunes. Also among the hits: The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only and The Look of Love. Even a-ha's Living Daylights was sublime.

THE NEW BOND: The announcement that the Bond franchise had reached the Daniel Craig era was greeted with applause by the females in the crowd. But presumably they were lusting for the actor and not the music. The themes to Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace -- and many of those from the Pierce Brosnan era -- just don't have the same magic as earlier songs. (I love the movie Goldeneye, but the theme song? Totally forgettable!) Give Carewe and Davis a high-five for making the most of them anyway. And the crowd did, bringing the pair back for two encores.

Wait, two encores at an Orchestra performance? Yep, it was that kind of night. Don't miss your chance to see it for yourself.

[Last modified: Thursday, June 17, 2010 11:40am]


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