I had the absolute pleasure and privilege of attending the concert of a lifetime – Hans Zimmer: Revealed, with a friend. This opportunity took place in the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London, Saturday October 11th 2014. It was an eventful evening and the skies were thankfully bright and clear on my way to the venue.
Firstly, for those of you who are not familiar with Zimmer’s film music work, you may know of it on a subconscious level. This man has scored the music to over 100 films during the course of his career, whether it be small-scale films or blockbusters. He has also won many awards for his work including an Academy Award, two Golden Globes and four Grammy Awards. He has written the music for blockbuster films such as The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, Man of Steel, both of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films, The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, The Lion King, The Pirates of The Caribbean quadrilogy, Gladiator and Spiderman 2 to name but a few. I’m sure you can understand my excitement at the prospect of hearing the incredible music from these films when my friend secured us tickets, 5 rows from the front of the stage!
This was an unusual concert of its kind as usually, at film music-related concerts, the composer presents their music by using a rather large screen to project clips from the films on which they have worked. Zimmer completely avoided this by packing around 70 contracted musicians onto a stage and at times using alternative visualisations to take you into the realm of each film. These were presented in the form of equaliser-type visuals behind the musicians. The attendees were all quite well-dressed and the merchandise stand was packed, even though there were only a few items for sale.
Zimmer presented most of his music in ‘suite’ form – basically a mash-up of tracks and themes grouped into their respective films, to give the listener the chance to experience each film’s world through its music. As soon as the curtain went up at the beginning of this concert, it was evident that each member of the audience was a deep admirer of Zimmer’s work; there were many cheers, whistles and a deafening applause. This continued throughout the concert between each of the suites of music played. Zimmer also addressed the audience between these suites of music and spoke about his life and how he composed these pieces. This was a highlight for me, as I got a glimpse of how this phenomenal man thought and worked. Also, as a music student myself, any help and advice about this line of work was a dream come true to hear about from a professional!
There were many other highlights for me during the course of the night. One in particular was the selection of guest artists and musicians features onstage. This was obviously a big operation in itself to complete as there were 70 musicians onstage, with 24 of them being Crouch End’s Festival choir. Johnny Marr from The Smiths played guitar for the music of Inception, Man of Steel and Spiderman. Aleksey Igudesman of the classical music and comedy duo Igudesman & Joo was one of the featured soloists and depending on the music they were playing, he donned a series of crazy and funny hats; for The Dark Knight Trilogy, he wore a Batman mask, for Pirates of the Caribbean, he wore a pirate beanie hat with long hair attached and for Spiderman 2, he wore Electro’s L.E.D. infused hoodie. The biggest highlight of all however, was when Zimmer ‘trolled’ us all and told the audience that the quartet were going to play a classical piece. 16 bars of music later, Pharrell Williams bursted onto the stage and sang ‘Happy’ as well as ‘Electro’s Theme’ from Spiderman 2.
Apparently those that had been to the show the night before missed this spectacle as Pharrell was engaged elsewhere at the time the concert was happening. During the time the softly-spoken Pharrell was on stage, the previously deafening applause, whistles and cheers were even more so and the whole audience were on their feet dancing and clapping along to the music. It was certainly a treat to hear such musicians feature in this type of concert as it was clear from their actions and words onstage that Zimmer greatly influenced their music.
To conclude, as Inception and The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan once said about Zimmer, ‘Innovation isn’t a catchphrase for Hans, it is his way of being. Hans throws around concepts and ideas without practical restraint, just to see where the process might lead. He is a creator who understands the essential truth that you can’t measure the value of pure thought and theory by the quantity of those explorations that make it into the final product.
He never lets practical realities limit his belief in the power of ideas, and because of that, winds up being one of the most essential talents working in movies. This was especially proved during the course of the night as the music played and presented was three-dimensional in its composition. Zimmer doesn’t write just action music or romantic music, there are other elements infused in his music that were related to the characters in the film and the music was not just a reflection of the action onscreen or as a simple plot device. His grasp of more than one genre in the film music industry is unparalleled and long may it continue.
In turn, this was an unforgettable night for me and one to recall for years to come.