012112 NACO plays Bond and Beyond, Ottawa, ON

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On January 21st, 2012 I attended yet another of the National Arts Centre Orchestra’s Pop Series concerts, a quadrennial offering aimed at those looking for a more relaxed, informal orchestra experience without the gravity and staid seriousness that is expected at a concert featuring the music of, say the Anton’s or the Sergei’s (Webern or Bruckner and Prokofiev or Rachmaninoff respectively) of the music world.

In other words, the Pop Series is the classical version of a George Thorogood concert: turn down the think and turn up the fun.  And this one was pretty fun.

The motif of the show was Bond and Beyond, so in addition to the iconic 007 theme and the lineage of classic pop songs that have been featured in the James Bond film series over the years was a selection of other spy-themed, well, themes.

I’ve always found it curious that specific film categories spawned equally specific music genres.  Spy music just blatantly sounds like spy music.  Just like the violin-heavy dissonant horror-movie music, the cliché bass-slapping softcore porn 70’s funk grooves, and the majestic super-hero neo-classical stuff all create their own perfect sonic stamps on each of their respective film genres.  It totally makes sense though – films on the whole just couldn’t exist without soundtracks – and movie studios have traditionally looked at any popular film that comes along (like Dr. No – the first Bond film – for example) as a template to be copied as closely as possible, music and all.

Anyway, this show was great.  As is standard at these shows, a regular rock outfit of guitar, bass, and drums was integrated into the orchestra to oomph up the stream of singers that paraded the stage providing lyrics to 007 hits like Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, and of course Nobody Does It Better.  Throw in a few obvious genre blockbusters like Theme From Mission: Impossible and Peter Gunn and yeah, it was a pretty fun night out.  I think they might have even thrown Dragnet in there somewhere.

Suffice to say, if the NACO Pops Series ever presents a concert of ’70’s softcore funk tunes I’m there.  And before you judge me, give a listen to the soundtrack from Vampyros Lesbos and tell me you wouldn’t be there too.

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