Hans Zimmer, Wembley Arena | reviews, news & interviews
Hans Zimmer, Wembley Arena
Hans Zimmer, Wembley Arena
Stellar film composer lights up the arena with filmic eloquence
Anyone who has been to the movies in the past 30 years will have heard the work of Hans Zimmer. His music is part of the very fabric of our lives, as was dramatically demonstrated last night at the packed Wembley SSE Arena when the opening notes of The Lion King were greeted with a huge roar of appreciation from the audience. Zimmer, who moved from instrument to instrument with aplomb throughout the evening, was playing guitar on this one as Lebohang Morake and Zoe Mthiyane sang rousingly and woodwind maestro Richard Harvey accompanied them, piercing and lyrical, on the penny whistle. It was a moment when childhood came back to haunt the listener, in a deeply moving way.
The range of music presented was a reminder of the extent of Hans Zimmer’s contribution to the cinema (over 150 movies to date). The concert commenced with Driving Miss Daisy, Zimmer playing cascading piano notes against the jauntiness of Richard Harvey’s clarinet and plucked strings from the violins. This was a fair-sized group, but it was deceptive – the curtain behind them went up to dramatically reveal a larger orchestra which blasted away, before dwindling to Harvey’s hoarse, lonely solo. The tuxedo clad composer switched to banjo for the wonderful, addictive Sherlock Holmes, a sour-sweet, propulsive and percussive theme. Violinist Aleksey Igudesman donned a deerstalker cap as he led the jolly sawing of the string section, accelerating into a good natured, diabolical hoe-down – the Devil went down to Baker Street. Thundering fun.
When Hans Zimmer and company segued into Madagascar another curtain went up behind the orchestra, drawing a collective gasp of delight from the audience, the arena shaking in celebration as the truly huge nature of the full ensemble was revealed – including the Crouch End Choir. The choir promptly distinguished itself on Crimson Tide, accompanied by eerie rising strings. Guthrie Govan played a wailing, trembling solo on electric guitar, a flash of silver in the darkness. Then the full ensemble came on like an invading army with Zimmer in command. It was overwhelming and exhilarating. The bass was earth-shaking and Ting Guo played bravura electric cello against Igudesman’s Mephisto fiddle.
Zimmer's score for 'Inception' provided a dazzling encore, featuring Johnny Marr's clarion guitar
Gladiator saw the spotlight on Czarina Russell singing wordless vocals, at first a menacing moaning against Zimmer’s acoustic guitar and skirling violins. A sense of urgent aggression rose, like a storm blowing from the wind section, reinforced by pounding brass. Russell’s singing became elegiac, suggesting a mournful peace, then finally exultant and triumphant. Pirates of the Caribbean saw Ting Guo’s glorious electric cello clawing fat phrases across a shifting backdrop conjured by Nick Glennie-Smith’s devious accordion, then cutting loose, punchy and percussive, and finally bowing fierce bawdy statements accompanied by an orchestral bombardment. The string section rose and fell like the sea, underscored by the plaintive colours of Richard Harvey’s panpipes. Then the whole ensemble was unleashed as if the gates of hell – or perhaps Davy Jones’s Locker – had been suddenly opened.
True Romance provided an utter contrast, with its intoxicating, playful minimalism echoing Carl Orff as Nathan Stornetta excelled on marimba and Hans Zimmer switched to drums, playing with padded mallets. The Thin Red Line brought the full orchestra in once more, opening a raw wound of unsettling sound, dominated by strings and a remorselessly rising pulse which came to a crescendo in a spreading haze of noise with Zimmer on electric keyboards and Johnny Marr on guitar. The Dark Knight was met with whoops of joy from the audience, the tortured swell of strings rising like the sound of an incoming artillery shell. The vast drums battered against feverish guitar runs and a fluttering thunder of bass so deep it was almost sub-audible. Piano chords from Zimmer were like flashes of colour against a grey storm cloud.
The concert officially ended with Interstellar. Lonesome keyboard figures suggested the dark immensity of space. There was a hornets’ buzz of ethereal electronics and Guthrie Govan provided an eloquent whine of bottleneck guitar. A Theremin-style eeriness pervaded this magnificent slab of science fiction music, but even then the riveting performance wasn’t over. Zimmer’s score for Inception provided a dazzling encore, featuring Johnny Marr’s clarion guitar. Afterwards the audience filed out, euphoric and stunned by this remarkable evening where art and entertainment had collided so memorably and pleasurably.
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