When I had the spontaneous opportunity to see Hans Zimmer on tour, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Being such a prolific composer, I was curious to know how much involvement he would have in the show, whether he would just be conducting, only on stage between songs, whether he would talk much and so on. I was pleasantly surprised to have all of my expectations exceeded as Hans proved himself to be a performer as much as he is a composer, and a charmer as much as he is a performer.
The show lasted for 3 hours and not once throughout that time did Hans falter in his stage presence, humour or passion for the experience he was sharing with us. Whilst his musicians needed little time to prepare between pieces, Hans always took the time to interact with the audience and share anecdotes of his many years in the industry, emphasising how he not only has a great sense of humour but an incredibly warm personality, too.
At 7.45PM, the show began with some glimpses in to Hans’ roots with the track ‘Driving’ from Driving Miss Daisy, his second Hollywood film score. This then rolled through tracks from Sherlock Holmes, Madagascar 2, Crimson Tide and Angels and Demons with ‘160 BPM’, the latter of which became the first of many spotlight moments for the spectacular choir.
Far from a simple play through of Hans’ tracks note-for-note, the set list was split into beautifully orchestrated medleys for each film, containing the most popular tracks from each soundtrack. The first half Gladiator, The Lion King and Pirates of the Caribbean whilst the second half covered The Dark Knight, Interstellar and Inception. The occasional standalone tracks in between also made sure the Da Vinci Code, Rain Man, The Amazing Spider Man 2 and many other fantastic scores did not go amiss.
The mix for the show appeared a little unsettled at first, with quite a bold degree of low-end meaning the percussion bled over a lot of the sound. However, Hans’ technicians quickly resolved the situation and throughout the rest of the set, the balance was perfect, albeit only slightly heavy in the sub bass. Although with over 80 musicians each demanding a place in the mix, the clarity that was achieved was phenomenal and perfectly accommodated both the bold fully-orchestrated sections and the breath-taking solo players in equal measure.
Alongside the orchestra, it was a privilege to see the featured performances of guitar legend Guthrie Govan, Incubus’ guitarist Mike Eizinger and infamous Johnny Marr. Whilst not necessarily sound related, credit must also be given to the quality of the show’s lighting. Complex rhythmic triggers and stunning visual design made the lighting’s support of the music a performance in itself.
Overall, the show undeniably exceeded all of my expectations. From the sultry start to the pin-point precision of the violinist’s final note in ‘Time’, the performance gave me goosebumps. It was an absolute privilege to witness such an extraordinary amount of talent on one stage and the resulting chemistry, passion and excitement that thrived between each and every musician. Getting to witness some of my all-time-favourite pieces in such an enigmatic environment was everything I could have asked for and, as a composer myself, I certainly left feeling inspired by the experience.
The Sound Architect