Skyfall in Concert with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra – Live Review

It is a wonderful seeing live music thrive again. Even more so when it is for an event that has been rescheduled several times, and you finally get to experience it! I was ecstatic to finally take my seat at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne on Wednesday the 8th of December, 2021 to witness the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Nicholas Buc, perform Thomas Newman’s score for James Bond’s Skyfall.

During the show’s introduction, Buc joked about this show being rescheduled more times than the latest instalment of the Bond franchise, No Time To Die. It’s no secret that the Arts sector has taken a huge hit from the pandemic with most events being cancelled all together. This event specifically even changed venues from indoors to outdoors to provide a more COVID safe environment and mitigate the risk of being postponed again. However, with the classic unpredictability of Melbourne’s weather, Buc joked about the ‘sky falling’. Admittedly, it did end up raining a little, but I did not care.

Released in 2012, Skyfall sees Daniel Craig return to the role of James Bond for the third time. The film opens with Bond in pursuit of a mercenary who has taken possession of a confidential list of agent identities and their locations, stationed around the world. The very first scene has a punchy double note of the Bond theme that coincides with a blurry silhouette of Bond in a hallway. For those in the audience around me that were not prepared, it gave them an almighty fright. For me, it grabbed my attention and had me on the edge of my seat with things only just beginning.

Bond and the mysterious foe end up on the roof of a train and are being pursued by fellow MI6 agent, Eve Moneypenny (Naomi Harris). When Bond is hit and falls off the train into the river below, the film cuts to the opening title sequence with Adele’s title theme Skyfall. This first fifteen minutes of film displayed with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performing the score live and really showcased Newman’s vision for the whole film. Buc had mentioned during his introduction that Newman’s score was surprisingly funky, and as that opening sequence unfolded, I looked around the audience and could see multiple heads delightfully bopping to the beat. Followed up with a live performance of Adele’s title track, I knew, already that this experience was going to be incredible.

Thomas Newman is no stranger to music of film. His career spans decades with one of his first films being Revenge of the Nerds back in 1984. He’s also scored a wide variety of film from drama to comedy, to action and adventure, even an animation with WALL-E. This wide range allows Newman to lend a unique perspective to a Bond film. The sombre dramatic feel of the score during M’s time writing Bond’s obituary, the futuristic sounds of Bond in Shanghai surrounded by high rise digital billboards, the East Asian undertones mixed with the main theme as Bond enters the casino in Macau, and the high tempo dramatic strings as Bond chases after villain, Silva (Javier Bardem) through the London Underground. It is safe to say that Newman knows how to score a film and elevate the imagery on-screen with his music.

These live film concerts by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra are an absolute treat. Not only is it a fantastic way to watch a film you’ve never seen before for the first time, but it’s great to witness a favourite flick you’ve loved for years. It is also a unique way to experience an orchestral performance, providing a unique perspective through the eyes and ears of the composer, and how a scene is musically constructed in their minds. As I have seen Skyfall several times before due to it being one of my favourite Bond films, I often found myself looking down from the screen to gaze and admire upon the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. The emotion, passion, and at times ferocity of the orchestra dramatically enhanced the experience of the film.

It is only in the last few years that I have really started to appreciate the music behind a film. A lot of this has to do with the live performances I have witnessed by the MSO. I have now seen two Bond films conducted by Nicolas Buc and performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra with Casino Royale, and now Skyfall. Both have been brilliant thoroughly entertaining performances, that one can only hope that we will eventually get a film concert for Daniel Craig’s final Bond film, No Time to Die.

If you are yet to experience a film concert, do yourself a favour and grab yourself a ticket to the next Melbourne Symphony Orchestra film concert. Although there was only one performance of Skyfall, there are plenty of other film concerts happening this year which you can attend. If you are a Harry Potter fan, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince will have its film concert in March 2022, with tickets on sale now.

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