Memory & London
Why is the past so deeply embedded in London? It seems that for all its postwar rebuilding there’s something to remember on every corner. Walking to the Royal Albert Hall last night I passed this street opposite the park, upon which nothing seems to have changed in 150 years (it was probably De Vere Gardens or the next one over).
I was heading to John Barry’s memorial concert, an event filled with old friends I hadn’t seen for years. Barry’s music feels as if it has been the soundtrack to my life, always there in the background, a real memory-conjurer.
The pieces were beautifully performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, with anecdotes from the stars who worked with him.
The negatives: a weak rendition of ‘We Have All The Time In The World’ by someone called Rumour, who sang with all the grace of a machine designed to crush aluminium cans flat, and a turgid, thespy reading from Timothy Dalton. The positives: David Arnold performing John Barry’s beautiful last song, and of course Dame Shirley Bassey, belting out ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ and ‘Goldfinger’.
Everyone remembers the five-time Oscar winner Barry for his film scores, forgetting that he composed stage musicals too, including ‘Billy’ (based on ‘Billy Liar’), ‘Lolita, My Love’ and ‘Brighton Rock’. Someone should release this last score, which was stunning and underrated by critics.