“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

Mark Kermode’s Birthday Concert


The UK’s most trusted film critic Mark Kermode is turning 50 and wants to celebrate with you. Anyone who listens to Kermode’s Film Review show on BBC Radio 5 Live knows that he is passionate about all aspects of cinema, all aspects barring 3D that is. It is this passion which makes his reviews unique and his opinion one you can rely on whether you agree with it or not; only when a critic openly holds Mary Poppins and The Exorcist in equally high regard can you truly trust what they have to say. What Kermode particularly has a passion for is film scores and music. As such, to mark his 50th Birthday Mark Kermode is hosting a series of cinematic concerts across the country.

Kermode will be joined by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at four venues to perform music from the films he loves most. Any fan of Wittertainment will not be surprised that music from Twin Peaks, Mary Poppins, Silent Running, North By Northwest, and of course The Exorcist will be performed amongst others. During the show Mark will talk about his career and be joined by a surprise guest. I am waiting by the phone/email/Twitter. I’m sure he’ll be in touch any day now…

A few years ago we were invited to attend a recording of the 5 Live radio show during which the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra would be performing live movie scores. Sadly we had to miss the event and have regretted it ever since. This time around I will not be passing up an opportunity to hear classic film music performed live and see one of cinema’s biggest fans share his love/hate for my favourite medium.

The concerts will be performed in July at the Cheltenham Festival with Jim Broadbent, Barbican in London with Jason Isaacs, 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

10 Years of Wittertainment

Roughly one year ago I discovered the joys of having podcasts to listen to while on frequent and lengthy trips on public transport. Searching for a film podcast to join me on the London Underground I came across Wittertainment or Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews, to give the show its actual title.

This month the show is celebrating its ten years of existence, ten years of becoming the BBC radio’s flagship film show and of Mark Kermode’s rants and Simon Mayo’s Kermode wrangling. I may not always agree with their reviews but it’s always fun to listen to, despite Kermode’s often irritating impressions.

To celebrate their ten years on the air the BBC has a series of special shows on 5 Live, all of which are available as podcasts. The first included a live recording at Mark Kermode’s childhood cinema and a clip show fronted by Hugh Bonneville, but what is really exciting is the show that aired last Friday.

On Friday Mark and Simon were joined by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra in Salford (far too far away) to perform classic film scores including Star Trek, Taxi Driver, The Godfather and Raiders of the Lost Ark. How can you not give that a listen? Truly nerdy fans can even listen to an hour-long show in which they chose the list of songs for the show along with Andrew Collins, Paloma Faith, Richard Wigley and Robert Ziegler.

In summary Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews is a brilliant, if poorly titled, show and we just wanted to say happy tenth birthday.

You can listen to any of the special shows or just subscribe to their podcast here.