“Happy Birthday!” to Mark Kermode…
and “Hello!” to Jason Isaacs


Because my original Mark Kermode animation just wasn’t tacky enough…

On Saturday night the Barbican were nice enough to invite me (under duress) to see Mark Kermode celebrate his 50th Birthday by presenting music from his favourite films performed live by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. As Kermode explained it music used to be the only way you could take a film home with you after seeing it in the cinema. In the time before Blu-rays, HD-DVDs, DVDs, betamax, and VHS if you wanted to relive the excitement away from the silver screen you were limited to buying a copy of the soundtrack on vinyl and listening to it on repeat at home.

In the first half we were treated to (amongst others) the haunting soundtracks to both The Exorcist and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. These two eerie and atmospheric pieces succeeded in sending a shiver down my spine – a real feat on such an unbearably hot day. The orchestra also performed the Mary Poppins Overture which provided a shiver of a much nicer variety as the tune moved through all the songs from one of four films I watched on repeat as a child. Kermode admitted to having been reduced to tears while talking about his love for Mary Poppins on a Channel 4 clip show (footage of which I have failed to find) and I have to admit that as the music washed over me a part of my cold dead heart did start to melt.

After a cake-filled interval (maybe that was just us) Mark was joined on-stage by Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy to you and me) who talked about some of the films he had made, films he loved, and generally gushed about how wonderful everyone involved with Harry Potter was. Isaacs was charming, funny, and… erm… charming. Any loyal reader of Mild Concern will be aware of my love for the books and films involving that boy wizard and so while it was wonderful to hear music from Taxi Driver performed in the second half alongside The Godfather (Isaacs favourite film) it was the finale that really made the evening. Starting with a few high-pitched notes we were given a live rendition of Hedwig’s Theme, a piece of music as synonymous with the Potter films as Daniel Radcliffe’s beaming face. The look on the face of my companion when they announced what we were about to hear (eyes and mouth both as wide as they could go) said it all, there was something a little magical about hearing such familiar music played live and with such skill.

Simon Mayo also popped in to discuss his favourite film which happens to be Amadeus which surprisingly enough features rather a lot of Mozart. Anyone who listens to Mayo and Kermode’s radio show can predict the sort of bickering that ensued.

As a fan of both Mark Kermode and film music in general this was a perfect night out for me and I was a little sad to see a fair few empty seats across the room. This micro tour has two more stops, tonight and tomorrow, and I highly recommend you go along. Each show is unique and so this really is a once in a lifetime experience.

The remaining performances are at The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester with David Arnold and Paddy Considine, and Symphony Hall in Birmingham with Jeremy Irons. For further information go to www.Kermodefilmmusic.co.uk