Date: May 29th 2002
Venue: Symphony Hall, Boston, MA
I’m pretty sure most of you won’t be reading this since this review is about a film composer, but who cares, this is my website and I’ll do what I want. (Sticks tongue out at you all!) Anyway, this was an event that I didn’t want to miss. For anyone who doesn’t know about John Williams, just pick a famous movie and most likely he did the score for it.
Indiana Jones, Star Wars, E.T., Jurassic Park, Jaws, etc etc etc. He was the first composer I really got into and what got me into the rest of the film music genre. This concert was sort of special because it was his 70th birthday celebration. His birthday was in February but whatever, the man is 70 so give him a break if this concert is just a tad bit late. I didn’t know whether or not we had to get super dressed for this concert or not, because you usually have to with classical performances. I didn’t care and seemed to resemble Mr. Pink from Reservoir Dogs. Thin tie, 2 tone suit, my black wingtips and added my wallet chain for good measure.
When we got to the hall, a lot of people just had “dressy” type of clothes and not suit and tie like my family wore. Oh well, guess we are money and no one else is. We got to our seats in the 1st balcony, towards the right. Decent seats, we could see the whole orchestra but any seat at Symphony Hall is good. I got a perfect view of the stage until some fat head guy that was like 6’5 sat in my way. I could see just the left hand side of the stage now. Though it didn’t really matter if I saw the stage or not, this isn’t like it’s Gwar or something. I’m not going to see John Williams rock out on stage and smash his baton on someone’s head. So anyway, the orchestra was tuning up and John Williams came out and people applauded. He went right into the “Olympic Fanfare and Theme.” I thought the sound would be louder but it got louder for different songs. I guess if I was down the bottom, close to the stage if would have been fine. I guess I’ve gone to too many punk shows where I can’t hear my own thoughts after the show. Don’t hate when you are trying to sleep after the show and you end up hearing the whole concert over again because you’re going deaf? ANYWAY, after that, Mr. Williams went into his suite for “Fiddler On the Roof.” I never heard the music to this. I just slightly remember some guys dancing around singing “If I Were a Rich Man.”
After I heard his suite of it, I felt like I wanted to dance around and shout and snap my fingers. HEY! Next was his suite for E.T. Here comes the water works. No, I held them back. Good! In the background of the stage were these glowing stars and stuff as the E.T. Suite went on. As the song for E.T. Went on, I was trying to pick out different people in the Boston Pops and watch them play. I loved watching the violins play. All of their bows (I think that’s what they are called?) go up and down at the same time. After E.T, was the 1st intermission. Everyone got up and stretched and sung “Take Me out to the Ballgame.” NO, of course they didn’t. Everyone got water or wine, or pissed, whatever. After the intermission, the Orchestra made their way on stage and came out Williams. They started off this part of the set with Hook. I love this song. It’s one of my many favorites from Williams. After Hook, John spoke briefly (That was the only time he spoke, I think he was sick) after this next song and the man who was going to read from the book, The Reivers. It was Senator Alan Simpson from Wyoming. He did a great job reading though I did trail off from him speaking some times. Though that’s not his fault, I’m just too A.D.D. I guess. He’d talk, and Williams would conduct, than when it was time for Sen. Simpson to speak again, Williams would give him a little wave to go. That went on for about 15 minutes or so. It was okay, I wish he played a different song besides the Reivers.
Intermission time again. Yippee. After the Intermission, John Williams and orchestra performed the “Mission Theme,” which is the NBC Nightly News theme. You know, with Tom Brockaw. That got a quick laugh with the audience. After that, it was Schindler’s List and this one was performed mostly by first chair violinist, Tamara Smirnova. She did a lovely job and I noticed her playing throughout the whole concert. The next song was up and it started off super quite. Dun Dum, Dun Dum. Yup it was Jaws!! It got louder and louder and this was when I was noticing I could hear the orchestra better. When they all play at the same time, it sounds great. After that song, Williams turned around and tried to scared the audience with an “AHH!”
The audience laughed. Thankfully, no stupid intermission and he went into the best set of the night, The Star Wars set. Hell yeah, started off with Imperial March from Empire Strikes Back. It was incredible. After that was the song from the new SW, Attack of the Clones, “Across The Stars” the love theme. Beautiful song. Sounds very similar to Hook and Gone with the Wind. After “Across the Stars” was the “Main title” for Star Wars and it was excellent. The crowd gave Mr. Williams a standing ovation as he walked off the stage. He came back and thanked the crowd and then went into “Raiders Of The Lost Ark!!!” The Crowd went nuts when he started playing it. Another standing ovation because it’s a terrific song. He walked off and came back out. This time it looked like James Taylor came out with him but I think it was Keith Lockhart who’s the conductor of the Boston Pops now. He mention that this was a celebration for John Williams and also mentioned that William’s grandfather help built the Symphony Hall we were in.
After that, he said that a spaceship as landed on top of the hall to greet Mr. Williams. On stage, came Darth Maul or Vader, can’t remember and Boba Fett with a birthday cake. Down below in the crowd, two lines of stormtroopers and imperial officers walked down the aisle and conducted the crowd to sing Happy Birthday. It was funny and great at the same time. John Williams went back on the platform and played “Stars and Stripes Forever” and the audience cheered. Williams turned around and started to conduct the crowd to clap. When the song was almost done, a huge American Flag dropped down. After that, Williams did the universal sign of need sleep by putting his hands near his head and walked off. It was a great night and it was really amazing to hear these songs live. I’m glad to see the composer, who I’ve been listening to all these years in person. Definitely check out his concerts when you get the chance. He’ll be performing a few more times this summer at Boston and at Tanglewood.