Date Night: Jurassic Park 25th Anniversary Concert, Middlesbrough Town Hall

18 September 2018 Middlesbrough, UK

To commemorate the iconic films 25th year since its initial release, a special re-screening, complete with LIVE orchestra is currently touring the UK – and The Southernist took The Northernist along to see it in Middlesbrough, for another instalment of #DateNight.

When considering things to do with your partner, a crucial aspect of choosing what to do is to find something you will both enjoy.

For the men out there reading this that might seem quite a difficult task, but I’m lead to understand “paying attention and listening to your partner” and then using this to interpret what you might do as being a key part of the task of choosing a #DateNight activity.

I must confess, this is an aspect I find very testing myself - ‘not listening’ is something I’m often accused of and justifiably so.

However, upon seeing a promotional 2 for 1 offer for this evening’s special screening of Jurassic Park at Middlesbrough Town Hall, where the music would be performed live by The Czech National Symphony Orchestra something tweaked in my mind.

A recollection of a conversation - I know not when, or where, or generally what it was about – where my partner divulged the “liking of dinosaurs.”

A moment passed where I considered whether this could have been a reference to my pensioner ways, but in hoping I understood correctly that it could mean a fondness for the Jurassic Park series of films, I promptly snapped up a pair of tickets.

But a further confession must be made at this point, for this was not a completely selfless act as I will continue to explain.

Now advancing in years it is true I have developed certain senior citizen style ways, or as I like to put it, my tastes in everything are becoming ever more refined.

I enjoy the odd glass of wine with a meal, a variety of cheese’s including ones of a smellier nature and sitting down in a comfy chair.

I have also grown to detest some of the things the youth of today consider as ‘entertainment’ such as hover boards and their degrading contraction of the English language into simplified letter sounds such as BAE.

And so having passed the mid-life crisis of my early thirties and moved into acceptance that I’m getting old and should now enjoy pursuits more fitting of my age, a burgeoning enjoyment in classical music has blossomed.

This interest has yet to reach any degree of expert status; for example, I couldn’t tell you which end of an Oboe you should blow from, nor freely explain what an Octave or Melisma is.

But the interest has resulted in allocating Classical FM a saved station slot on my radio, downloading a collection of various classical music to my phone, mainly of music I recognise from films or adverts and making pretend conductor actions whenever I’m listening to a piece.

 An Octave is the interval between one musical pitch and another with half or double its frequency; 
a Melisma is a group of notes sung to one syllable of text... apparently.

Naturally this led to feeling both rather pleased with myself and quite excited at the prospect of spending a more mature evening listening to the symphony of string section, the whistle of the wind section and the drumming roar of the ‘dinosauraus’ section.

The plan had been to keep what was in store for my party a secret, but having let slip the date to ensure she didn’t become double booked and then foolishly the venue, my covering story that we were going to see The Reg Vardy Band a week later held no credit.

Yet there was a fortunate relief and bonus in letting slip the plan, because it quickly became obvious Olivia was genuinely excited for what was in store – new dress and shoes level excited!

There was even the constant humming of the Jurassic Park theme tune from her, with only the intermittent addition of the "scary in the dark" lyrics as performed by Jeff Goldblum himself (see below) offering any sort of key change, that confirmed the eager anticipation Olivia had for our evening to come - I had done well, it seemed! 

Finally the evening of #DateNight arrived, and we got made up in our Sunday finest and headed out early to find somewhere to eat to make a full evening of it.

Initially hoping to dine at Eliano’s Brasserie, a quaint and quite beautiful independent Italian restaurant in the centre on Fairbridge Street, we were gutted to learn it wasn’t open late on a Sunday evening and so our hopes of pasta and petit rouge with a handy 40% discount courtesy of vouchers received with our tickets were dashed.

Some quick and adept thinking on one’s feet was now required to avoid a minor disaster becoming a major one, but thankfully a further dash of memory came to my aid; that of the lasting impression the baked brie starter at Bistro Pierre had left on Olivia.

As I recall, it had been a beautiful summers day back in July when on a whim I took her to the Middlesbrough branch of Bistro Pierre on Albert Road for a lunch date, which incidentally is celebrating its first full year this very week.

Despite neither us really being dressed for it on this, our initial occasion at the fine-dining restaurant, we unashamedly enjoyed a 2 course meal and shared desert, making use of their prix fixe lunch menu with our orders where we could.

This luncheon had included Olivia selecting the ‘Fritot de Brie’ to start, which resulted in all sorts of audible sounds of delight and repeated comments of “oh that baked brie” and “we should try and make our own baked brie” for weeks and weeks after.

Hoping that memory and prompt action would save the day, by providing both hunger satisfaction and a timely shield from the hair destroyer that is Middlesbrough’s whirling wind, we made our way to the restaurant to be greeted and seated promptly despite not having a reservation, to much relief.

From there Olivia naturally chose the Fritot de Brie to start, with a main course of Steak Frites and I went for the Calamars and Poulet au citron, which to my own surprise I managed to request in almost passable French (Oui c'est vrai).

To round off our delightful meal just before the performance we shared the Bavarois et compote de fruits rouges, or vanilla panna cotta with a berry compote to you and me and made our way across to the Town Hall with a spring in our step.

That this spring was present was somewhat fortunate, given I had booked seats on the third-floor gallery to ensure front row viewing, but any slight frown that may have been evident from my love as a result of clambering up thousands of steps soon drifted away as the film begun and the orchestra started to play.

For a first-time witnessing film accompanied by live music, the experience was peculiar in one regard, because as you concentrated on the screen the orchestra playing below was out of sight and almost out of mind; it wasn’t obvious to this old man’s hearing they were playing at all.

But to the once classically trained ear of my flautist companion, she was revealing in the moment, questioning if she should dust of her own flute.

Led by the 38-year old, Australian-British conductor Jessica Cottis the Czech National Symphony Orchestra impeccably kept time with the film, ensuring not a beat of John Williams masterful score was missed; and when the conscious mind allowed, enhanced the overall feel of the film.

Closing with a flourish as the end credits rolled, the eyes were for once free to gaze in awe on those playing below, with the majesty of talent clear to see; creating a slight feeling of regret that up until that point focus had understandably been placed elsewhere.

I might consider that one way to enhance this concept of a classic film being accompanied by a live orchestra would be to allow the orchestra to play a short introduction prior to the screening of the film; to enable the audience to train their ears to the unique sound being produced and ensure just a little more focus is given to the joint stars of the evenings show.

A further thought from the evening’s entertainment was that although the idea of fusing live classical music with iconic films provides a great opportunity to bring this style of music into focus to a different audience, the full price of tickets for the evening - £41 plus booking fee per person – was surely prohibitive for many.

Had it not been for the 2 for 1 offer it is unlikely that I would have booked tickets for us both and given there was a significant number of vacant seats that evening, it would suggest that may have been a factor as to why take up of what was a fabulous event in itself wasn’t as strong as it might have been.   

To be fair to Middlesbrough Town Hall, the ticket price for the concert is in comparison to the price being charged elsewhere in the country as the concert continues its tour around the UK, where in many places it has sold out, it just felt a shame that more people, especially younger children, were not in attendance.

However, in terms of an evenings entertainment for myself and The Northernist, modest grumbles aside, it proved to be the perfect and memorable #DateNight.

Jurassic Park, the 25th Anniversary Concert continues on its UK Tour up until December.

You can find tickets here:

Middlesbrough Town Hall has a full line up of events over the coming months, including the return of the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, minus dinosaurs, in late November.

Details of whats on can be found here:

Details of the Czech National Symphony Orchestra performance at Middlesbrough Town Hall can be found here:

Bistro Pierre celebrates one year of opening in Middlesbrough this week.

To find your nearest resturant, menu’s or to book a table, click here;

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