Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Live Game

Sunday night, I attended an unconventional concert -- Game of Thrones: The Live Concert Experience. Attending live orchestral performances of film and television soundtracks isn't out of the norm for me; that isn't what made it unconventional. No, what made it unusual was the venue: the Pepsi Center.

This touring show is playing arenas across the U.S. and Canada, a fact that made me initially hesitant to go. It simply didn't strike me as the ideal place to listen to an orchestra... the same place you watch your local hockey or basketball team? And so I was going to pass until a friend of mine caught the tour two weeks ago in his city, and gave an endorsement that made me reconsider.

It turns out that this Game of Thrones concert is sort of like a performance from an alternate universe, a reality where a TV composer can draw as big a crowd as an arena rock band. Tens of thousands packed the stadium for a concert that felt like watching an A-list rock band. Series composer Ramin Djawadi was a star, smiling for screaming fans. The whole thing unfolded on a set hundreds of feet long, involving pyrotechnics, costumes, video clips, and elaborate pop-up (and flown-in) set decorations.

Now, to be realistic, most of the people were there for love of the series itself -- cheering whenever Daenerys or Jon Snow or Tyrion appeared on the jumbo screen suspended above the screen. They probably didn't know the music itself as closely as I do. But that in and of itself would have seemed like a concert from an alternate universe just a decade ago -- that the top shows on TV would be genre shows? That any show on HBO would fill an arena with shrieking fans? Kind of crazy and awesome.

Strange conditions or no, it was a fun show. I got to see a host of less common instruments played live, from hammered dulcimer to didgeridoo to electric cello to things I can't even name. Djawadi handed over the conductor's baton for a few key songs to play a featured instrument himself. And he played "all the hits," including memorable cues he wrote for the Battle of Blackwater, the Red Wedding, the attack on Hardhome, and Cersei's vengeance in King's Landing.

I had a great time, and I'm glad my friend's recommendation got me to reconsider going. I'll pay that recommendation forward. If you're a fan of Game of Thrones and the concert is touring soon in your city, check it out.