Date: July 25th, 2017
Composer Hans Zimmer and his traveling band of talented musicians finally played New York City last night at Radio City Music Hall! I have been waiting to see the man perform live for many years, when his Wings of a Film live album was released in 2001. Without a doubt, this was one of the best concerts I’ve had ever seen and it was well worth the wait!
After getting the babysitter all squared away, my brother and I met my wife in Manhattan half hour before the doors. The line was crazy to get in but thankfully it moved somewhat quickly. Our seats were first mezzanine and in the center so for me, it was perfect. The last time I was at Radio City Music Hall, it was for Conan’s live tour and was down in the orchestra. I actually think I prefer to be up in the first mezzanine. Anything higher might stink though.
The concert promptly started at 8 and started out with the theme to “Driving Miss Daisy,” and then quickly went into Sherlock Holmes “Discombobulate” and Madagascar “Rescue Me / Zooster Breakout.” During the first part, it was just the featured musicians, and then one curtain came up and it was some strings and orchestra. Then the last curtain comes up again for the choir. That got a lot of cheers. I didn’t know the music from Madagascar but I ended up loving that!
Hans has hand-picked some of the best musicians in the world to play on this tour and it shows. A lot of the featured musicians get their time to shine, and he brings them up front or recognizes them afterwards. The cellist Tina Guo is incredible with her hair-whipping, metal-styling of cello playing. She’s so theatrical when playing, I love it and wish I got to shoot this concert just because of her alone. Violinists Molly Rogers and Leah Zeger are extremely talented as well. I’ve noticed Drummer Satnam Ramgotra and his playing since seeing several years ago when he play Inception’s “Mombasa” on Youtube and knew he was going to be great. Definitely one of the best drummers I’ve seen live. Johnny Marr’s son Niles has been filling in for Pops and has been doing a stellar job, as well lead guitarist Guthrie Govan. (Figures the day I don’t see this concert, Johnny Marr actually showed up and played.)
I've been to many concerts in my life but @hanszimmerlive was simply one of the best I've ever seen! I've been waiting to see Hans for years and it was well worth the wait. Leave it to him and the amazing musicians to turn a film score concert into a rock concert. It was awesome to hear Gladiator, Da Vinci Code, Pirates, Dark Knight, Wonder Woman, Inception and Lion King. Rock on @hanszimmer @tinaguo @mollyrogersmusic @leahzeger @lebo_m_lion
Zimmer would break up the movies into medleys, sometimes merging a couple different movies into one and other times just one movie being the main focus. After that group of stuff, Hans had nice things to say about the late Tony Scott and then went into Crimson Tide’s “Roll Tide.” Then after that was Angels & Demons’ “160 BPM.” Gladiator was played after that and that’s still one of my favorite scores by Zimmer. Czarina Russell came out to sing Lisa Gerrard’s parts and did a superb job. For Gladiator, he played “Wheat,” “The Battle,” and “Now We Are Free.”
One of my favorite pieces from Zimmer was played shortly after Gladiator, “Chevaliers De Sangreal. It was great to finally hear that one live but after that, something else blew me away as well. Hearing the music from The Lion King by the original singer, Lebo. M. I knew he was touring with Hans and stuff, but I just never gave it much thought to be honest. Hearing the music and the medley with Lebo singing with his daughter, it was something special! I actually was holding back some tears believe it or not. Music is a powerful thing. That performance got a standing ovation and the loudest cheers of the night. It’s one thing to hear it down the road on Broadway with a bunch of people dressed in costumes, it’s another thing to hear the music by the original composer and singer!
Before they played the music of Pirates of the Caribbean, Hans introduced Tina and told us how much she was going to knock our socks off…and he was right. She was front and center, hair whipping, twirling her cello around like she was in a rock band. It’s so awesome to see classically-trained musicians treated as rock stars and deservedly so! I loved hearing “Up is Down” and “He’s a Pirate” pieces but all the pieces from Pirates really. I’m actually surprised this and Gladiator were played so early on in the set. I actually would have played this last of the second set because it’s so uplifting and fun. That’s just my opinion of course.
After Intermission, the quick theme to True Romance was played and then Rain Man / Thelma and Louise. I thought he would have played the main theme to Rain Man but it was another song they did. The only thing I probably could have done without or wish they played different was the Thelma and Louise song “Thunderbird.” While it was cool to see Guthrie wailing on the guitar, It would have been nice to hear something else like Black Hawk Down, The Pacific, Last Samurai, Tears of the Sun or even Pearl Harbor.
Hearing the pieces from Man of Steel and Batman v Superman was cool as well, especially the Wonder Woman part featuring Tina Guo again. Thin Red Line’s “Journey to the Line” was mixed in with superhero stuff for some reason but was great to hear. I particularly liked the video screen showing the red line and the animation for that. The lighting and video stuff was impressive as well. No footage from movies was shown and I actually don’t mind that because your main focus is on the musicians.
The medley of The Dark Knight was a highlight for me, especially the “Molossus” motif that you hear in Batman Begins and throughout the trilogy. Having all those musicians playing together, the cityscape animation in the background, I couldn’t help myself but headbang a little. So damn good! Throughout the night, I kept debating with myself to put tissues in my ears. I finally ruled against in early on because I wasn’t getting that BOOM in the pit of my stomach. You can hear and feel the music so much more without ear plugs or tissues, at least just for this concert.
During the last portion of it, Hans came up front and gave a speech about the death of Heath and then the tragedy of Aurora, CO. Then played that piece he wrote in the aftermath. For someone who has stage fright, Hans certainly talked a lot and performed very well.
The final song of the set was pieces of Interstellar. While I like Interstellar, like I said before I think Pirates or something else should have been here and Interstellar played last in the first set. I also thought it would have been louder like it was in the movie. Nitpicking aside, it was still cool to hear these tracks. Everybody gave them a standing ovation again and they went off. A lot of people began to leave the venue for some reason; have they ever been to a concert before.
The “BAAAM BAAAM” noises from Inception were quickly played to remind people there was an encore. Most people went back to their seats from what I saw. The group of musicians all came back out to play the Inception medley, and Niles Marr was featured up front this time. Hearing this music being played, made me realized I haven’t seen the movie in a long time. I know what I’m watching this weekend! The highlight of that score was “Mombasa” but also the final piano piece, “Time.” Just so perfect.
I’m still on Cloud 9 after this concert and it’s truly one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. It’s amazing to see John Williams conduct all the time and the Game of Thrones concert was unbelievable, but this felt like something else to me. A film score concert that was really a rock concert in disguise. An amazing experience that I’ll never forget! Worth the wait, worth the money and would happily do it all over again in a heartbeat.