Saturday, 11 October 2014

Hans Zimmer Revealed - review

If I was asked to name my top three favourite film composers, very easily and quickly I would rattle off the name John Williams (mostly for sentimental reasons of the scores that meant so much to my childhood), Hans Zimmer and Clint Mansell.

This week I am lucky enough to get to see two of them live in concert. Clint Mansell at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow on Tuesday 14th but first it was the turn of Hans Zimmer at the Hammersmith Apollo in his first ever public performance of some of his most iconic pieces of work in Hans Zimmer Revealed... And Friends!.

We'll get onto who some of the friends were in a minute but suffice to say that the main reason 5000 people had packed the Apollo was to see the man in question and he did not disappoint as he took us through an epic two and a half hour journey through his incredible back catalogue.

Best known these days for his work with Christopher Nolan, Zimmer started the concert almost trolling the audience by beginning with a piece from Driving Miss Daisy it introduced Hans on the piano accompanied by his small band (consisting of a string quartet, guitar, clarinet and percussion).

It proved the perfect opener as they seamlessly moved onto Discombobulate from Sherlock with Hans picking up the bango followed by , all the while with curtain upon curtain rising up to reveal layer upon layer of orchestra to bring these pieces of music to life.

Between the music, Hans would tell amusing and self-deprecating anecdotes about his time in the business and the inspiration behind certain pieces were a fascinating look behind the process. Like for example how Barry Levinson's wife buying the soundtrack to A World Apart led to his first Hollywood score with Rain Man or trying to convince Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer to let him use a choir on Crimson Tide.

Cue the Crouch End Festival Chorus choir to appear and perform that and an incredible number which gave me a whole new appreciation for the Angels And Demons score which simply astonishing heard live (complete with some crazy drum solos).

One of the biggest cheers of the first half came when Hans dropped the G word and played a suite from Gladiator. Sadly Lisa Gerrard couldn't be there but singer Miriam Blennerhassett did an admirable job in her place.

The best thing about The Da Vinci Code, Chevaliers de Sangreal, quickly followed along with The Lion King, amazingly the only Oscar win that Zimmer has had despite nine nominations but one he did specifically for his daughter Zoe.

The first half concluded with a barnstorming medley from Pirates Of The Caribbean that finished with a violin-off between Ann Marie Simpson and Aleksey Igudesman (who nearly stole the show by wearing a selection of silly hats and masks to compliment the film).

The second act began like the first, softly and slowly with the Badlands-inspired score for True Romance but was soon followed by Zimmer bringing out the big guns for a "Super" and heroic end to the show.

Man Of Steel must have been an incredibly daunting job to take on. To create something that would encapsulate Superman but also able to stand tall outside the shadow of John Williams' original theme.

Not only did Zimmer accomplish that but his score is the best thing about the film and further proved by the live performance.

I wonder if Zimmer has the balls to try and create a new sound for Batman in. Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice given that he has spent the last ten years defining The Dark Knight?

The Dark Knight was still to rise but not before myself (and probably a few others I imagine) were reduced to tears when they played Journey To The Line from The Thin Red Line.

Oh yes, earlier I mentioned that the evening was called Hans Zimmer Revealed... And Friends and the second half brought out a special guest in the form of The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr who played on several tracks to the delight of the crowd, including a different and punk rock Electro-fying track from The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Zimmer then finished the show with a suite from The Dark Knight Trilogy which concluded with a moving tribute to Heath Ledger and the people of Aurora, Colorado with a piece called Aurora which is an alternate take on Rise from The Dark Knight Rises.

The curtain came down on Hans and his team receiving their second standing ovation (they got one at the interval as well) but eagle-eyed fans would have spotted that one film was rather conspicuous in its absence from the playlist.

Thankfully Zimmer returned for an encore of Inception that would bring the show full circle with Zimmer alone under the spotlight playing the final note of Time.

And alas our time with Hans was over but it was a night to remember as he brought so many of his memorable movie music moments to life on stage.

It is one thing to listen to a film score at home on CD or on the move on an iPod and enjoy it but this was like being transported back to the first time you heard it while watching the film and experiencing it all over again.

Hans down one of the best live performances I have ever seen.

5 stars


  1. 100% agree, FANTASTIC. Only spoiled by the number of people in the audience who feel the need to wander about fetching drinks etc and then the inevitable loo break. Surely you can mange 2/12 hours without a drink. Fancy missing so much of this fantastic music- why bother going in the first place.

  2. Agree with both of you. Coming from another country, I never saw people going around MID CONCERT... but ok... Zimmer was well worth the money, hassle of travelling and everything. Amazing, what a great maestro in all senses of the word he is...

  3. Loved the concert and 100% agree regarding the idiots who kept getting up. That's what the intermission is for. You know who you are EVERYBODY WHO SAT IN CIRCLE BLOCK 3, ROW K, SEATS 40 to 50.

  4. Sounds completely amazing, I'd love to go to something like this. Hans Zimmer is certainly one of my favourite movie composers, it was his Gladiator score that really got me into listening to orchestral soundtracks. Even if the movie stinks he pulls off an amazing score. I wrote a blog post on 10 soundtracks better than the actual film, and Zimmer was quite over-represented!

  5. Dominic Fernando13 October 2014 at 12:42

    Incredible, Incredible, Incredible. Every memory from two decades of film came flooding back as each emotional lift hooked and floored every audience member. The Saturday performance had Pharell Williams doing a performance of "Happy" (Hans started with a 4 string orchestra piece, before it then transformed into the instrumental for Happy..and enter Pharell and the crowd goes mental!). There seemed to be a more civilised crowd as no one in front of me left their seats..but I was 6 rows from the front. 100 STARS! Honestly one of the best entertainment nights of my life.