John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra @ Symphony Hall, Boston, MA

Live Reviews | Jun 10th, 2013

Date: June 8th 2013

After last year’s awesome concert, my wife and I decided to head back to Boston to see the legendary John Williams conduct the Boston Pops Orchestra at Symphony Hall. It was well worth the trip and money to see Williams conduct again!

Before Boston, John Williams conducted in Baltimore so I was wondering if he was going to have a similar setlist (Star Wars, Indy, Harry Potter centric). Some things were similar but this was a different setlist.

I got seats in balcony center, 1st balcony and they were similar seats to what I had last year. Might have even been the same row and seats for all I know. I like that area because it gives a nice vantage point to the whole venue.

John Williams opened up with “The Cowboys Overture,” which is around 9-10 minutes long and features an array of motifs from the movie. I particularly like the beginning part and then the very slow part that sounds like something out Dances with Wolves. After that, he went into a suite for Far and Away, which sounds awesome. I was trying to figure out if I’ve heard JW and the Boston Pops play this before and I believe I have at my first John Williams concert. I was surprised to hear “Far and Away” being played then because the original program had that finishing the first part of the concert. Like in the past, JW made a bunch of changes and switches to the program. Some other people had the real program though on a piece of paper, but I didn’t get one. I don’t mind not knowing everything though.

After that, they played 3 pieces from Lincoln, which is John Williams’ latest score and one that got nominated a bunch of times. The first part was “The People’s House,” then one of my favorites from that score “Getting Out The Vote” and then he ended the Lincoln music with “With Malice Toward None.” I still haven’t had the chance of seeing Lincoln yet but hearing the music live certainly makes me want to rent it soon! Though, as much as I like the music to Lincoln, I still prefer the score to War Horse than his other recent scores.

After the selections from Lincoln, two pieces from the Indiana Jones (or as John Williams says “The Raiders movies”) were played. “The Adventures of Mutt” and then “Marion’s Theme.” I’ve seen them perform “Mutt” before but not “Marion’s Theme.” This was the first time that The Raiders March wasn’t played in full for me, though it was certainly represented later on in parts. I liked hearing both pieces. Mutt’s theme is fun and action-packed and Marion’s theme is so beautiful.

After that, “Flight to Neverland” from Hook was played with an excellent montage of movie clips of people flying planes, or in Hook’s case, Peter Pan flying. The biggest laugh out of the clips was Otto from Airplane. I absolutely love hearing these pieces but what makes it even better is seeing a series of other clips played to the music. I was hoping he was going to do more of that and thankfully he did! But after the intermission…

John Williams and the Boston Pops started off the second half to an amazing start with a Tribute to the Film Composer. He played movie clips and played quick pieces from 20th Century Fox, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Captain Blood, Titanic, Psycho, Star Wars, The Pink Panther, Out of Africa, Patton, Rocky, Gone with the Wind, Magnificent Seven and others. You can actually watch this clip, which he performed this a few years ago.

The opening train chase in Last Crusade was played after that. John Williams walked us through the techniques of film scoring and what was happening on screen. Then after talking with us over that long scene, he played the music over it and it was just a lot of fun to see the clips played with and without music. The movie screen was kept down as he played the theme to Laura and showed a bunch of clips of leading ladies.

Another excellent montage was played after that, during the music of The Adventures of Tin-Tin. He played “The Duel” last year but didn’t have clips to go along with it. This time, the piece features lots of swashbuckling footage from various Pirate movies, or just sword fighting in general like Robin Hood, Captain Blood, Pirates movies, Princess Bride and yes, even Spaceballs. I love how all these studios are letting them use these clips now, because its making the concerts even more enjoyable.

In the program, they were suppose to play “Throne Room/End Titles” from Star Wars: A New Hope. I would have loved to have heard that since I used that piece after I got married. I always wanted to use that haha. But he did represent Star Wars with 3 pieces: Imperial March, Yoda’s Theme and The Main Title. I heard these all before but man, I could hear them everyday and not get sick of it! I love how Indy and Star Wars were well represented at this concert. Williams commented about the new Star Wars movies and said he better start his diet soon, and to start eating his Wheaties if he was going to be able to score the movies. He will be what, 85 by then? Bravo to him if he can do it!

John Williams walked off the stage after receiving a lengthy standing ovation and came back to play yet another Star Wars piece, “Luke and Leia” from Return Of The Jedi. He followed that with “The Flying Theme” of E.T. Hearing that never gets old. You know if you attend a Boston concert with John Williams, you’ll be hearing at least 3 songs in the encore. He came back again and played his usual send-off for the evening, “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Lots of clapping from the audience until things died down, and then picked up again when John Williams turned around to conduct the audience. The piece ended and John Williams signaled to the crowd it was time for bed and then he was off and everybody left Symphony Hall with huge smiles on their faces.

Another truly remarkable concert from John Williams and the Boston Pops. Every time I go to Boston, I have an excellent time and want to go back the following year. If John Williams is still able to conduct the Boston Pops every year, I’ll be there!

If you couldn’t make it to the concert, WGBH will have the broadcast of the concert in 2 weeks for streaming.


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