Without the smokey melodies of a Shirley Bassey or a Paul McCartney, those silhouetted figures of attractive ladies that inevitably open a James Bond
movie would certainly look a lot sillier. Yes, more so even than many of the films (Moonraker, anybody?), the James Bond theme songs potently evoke a certain mystique of intrigue, glamour, and derring-do that is distinctly Bondian. Now, Jeans ‘n Classics, a London-based musical ensemble devoted to symphonic performances of pop classics, are set to pay tribute with “Shaken Not Stirred,” a 007-themed musical medley at the Centre in the Square.
“When the idea of doing this show came up, and it’s been around now for almost as long as I have, my hand shot up, ‘I’ll do it! I’ll do it! I’ll do it!’” said Rique Franks, one of Jeans ‘n Classics’ lead vocalists.
“I just love the drama of it, and the way it would lend itself to the orchestra. They’re great songs.”
People may disagree over their favourite 007 – you have your Connery loyalists, your Craig partisans, your Nintendo 64-reared Brosnan nostalgics, even your few, scattered Lazenby contrarians – but Bond fans always seem to be united in their favourite songs. Wherever a wax museum displays a tuxedoed secret agent, you’ll surely hear someone humming about being beckoned into Goldfinger’s web of sin. (In sharp contrast, you probably haven’t heard anyone humming “The Man With the Golden Gun” in a while).
So expect to hear Franks and company sing about how nobody does it better, makes them feel sad for the rest, and perhaps how he’s a winner who takes all whenever he strikes like a Thunderball. Interspersed between these familiar numbers will be several songs (i.e. “The Look of Love,” “Daydream Believer”) more commonly associated with a rival spy of the more self-consciously shagadelic variety.
Franks said to expect a unique perspective on the familiar songs. “There are a lot of acts out there who are specifically tribute acts, and will try to be as true as they can be to the sound of, say, ABBA or the Beatles. That is not the mandate of Jeans ‘n Classics,” she said.
“In most cases, we are giving a spin on the performance of those songs.”
What can we expect Franks to bring to the music? “In the case of all the female stuff, it’s all big and diva, so I can be very dramatic with the Shirley Bassey stuff,” she said. Given that James Bond once compared drinking Dom Pérignon at a temperature lower than 38 degrees to “listening to the Beatles without earmuffs,” it’s safe to say the secret agent would be comfortable with such an irreverent attitude.
While Jeans ‘n Classics has been performing its James Bond tribute for close to ten years, the success of last year’s Skyfall has led to a noticeable resurgence of interest in the venerable secret agent.
“Our emcee will ask the audience, who is your favourite Bond, and various hands will shoot up for Sean Connery, or for… what’s his name, the Remington Steele guy…”
“Yeah, Pierce Brosnan. But all the women like the new guy.”
So – does Franks have a favourite Bond?
“I have a soft spot for Sean Connery, but I think the new guy, the blonde guy…”
“Daniel Craig is a different kind of Bond. He’s sort of taking it in a more serious, less tongue-in-cheek direction. It’s less of a joke.”
Jeans ‘n Classics’ “Shaken Not Stirred: The Music of James Bond” will be performed at Centre in the Square in Kitchener on April 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $29.50 to $79, and can be bought in advance at www.center-square.com.