Hans Zimmer’s name might not be instantly recognisable among the general public, but most people would know the popular films he had scored: Gladiator, The Lion King, Inception, Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Rock, and many more. An impressive body of work to say the least. I have my sister and her husband to thank for letting me know about this concert: they’re big fans of Zimmer’s work and were blown away when they saw his show in Prague last year. I could only afford cheap tickets at the very top of the arena, which unfortunately blocked about a third of the orchestra from view, but in the end it didn’t matter so much.
This was definitely a very unique and memorable event. I was a bit amused to see the arena full of young dudes who probably wouldn’t be caught dead at a classical music concert, cheering a classic orchestra for over two hours. There was also Zimmer’s own band, which included the more traditional rock instruments like the electric guitar, a badass female cellist and a drummer with a long bushy beard Leo Tolstoy would envy. Despite his self-confessed stage fright, Zimmer was a wonderful showman, very warm, personable and loveably dorky. No stuffy conductor, he wandered the stage, bantering with his band and sharing a few anecdotes from his long career about working with Ridley Scott and Christopher Nolan, and hanging around the Louvre while it was closed off for filming Da Vinci Code.
The first half of the show included medleys from film scores for Sherlock Holmes (I always loved the jaunty main tune but had no idea it was Zimmer’s), Crimson Tide, Pirates of the Caribbean, and my personal huge favourite, Gladiator. The Holst-inspired battle theme was stirring and the more ethereal, emotional parts were made even more so when Lisa Gerrard, who had collaborated on the soundtrack and lent her gorgeous otherworldly vocals, came onstage. It was a truly spine-tingling moment. The Lion King introduction, with the dramatic red sun lighting up the screen and the instantly recognisable lyrics (iconic despite the fact that most people including myself have no clue what they actually mean) drew the biggest cheer from the crowd, as the original singer of the intro was joined onstage by the other vocalists who sang their way through the film’s themes. The Lion King is my favourite Disney animated movie and the Zimmer score, I’ve come to realise, is a big reason why.
After a short intermission, the show resumed in a superhero mode with the selections from Man of Steel, The Dark Knight, and an amazing rendition of the Wonder Woman theme which is probably my favourite thing from the wretched Batman vs Superman debacle. I actually couldn’t remember the music from The Dark Knight all that well, but the menacing Joker theme was brilliant and a proof that you don’t need nostalgia for the great film score to stand up on its own. Overall it was a darker, heavier, more sombre second half, never more epic than when the booming Interstellar theme came along; sadly they didn’t bring their own real organ onstage but even with the synthesizer it sounded overwhelmingly majestic live. It was accompanied by a cool onscreen image of an organ floating in space, which gave me very strong Pink Floyd vibes. The Thin Red Line theme was yet another familiar and very emotive piece of music I didn’t realise was composed by Zimmer.
Interstellar officially closed the show, but of course there was no way they’d skip that track from Inception, and yep Zimmer and the rest came back for the encore to perform Time. What a magnificent way to cap off the concert with this deceptively simple theme which just builds and builds and swells and explodes into celestial epicness before ending on the same intimate piano notes.
Now of course I want to re-watch all of the films featured in the show, and hopefully catch Mr Zimmer live again down the track.