Next to gripping story lines, captivating performances and show-stopping battle scenes, a top highlight in the award-winning HBO epic fantasy series Game of Thrones is its stirring musical scores composed by Ramin Djawadi (Iron Man, Westworld).
The soundtrack for last year’s Season 7 is in particular brilliant in every sense of the word; so much so that Game of Thrones garnered its first Grammy nomination in the Score Soundtrack for Visual Media category, with Djawadi up against four movie nominees namely Arrival, Dunkirk, Hidden Figures and La La Land (the eventual winner).
So when it was announced that Ramin Djawadi will embark on yet another Game of Thrones live concert tour featuring show music up to Season 7, I knew it was an experience I just have to, er, experience for myself. I chose to fly to Belfast to see the show last month on May 25 ‘cos not only is Northern Ireland “Game of Thrones Territory”, the venue SSE Arena is also just a stone’s throw away from Titanic Studios where most of the interior scenes of the hit series is shot. Add to that, it would give me a chance to tour Belfast – a city I’d yet to visit then – as well as various GOT filming locations throughout the country.
A FEAST FOR THE EARS & EYES
The 2018 Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience in Belfast features a custom stage, full orchestra (Ulster Orchestra), choir (Belfast Philharmonic), soloists, pyrotechnics, lighting effects and specially edited footage from the show. Before the concert’s actual start, the audience were thrilled when over the intercom, Queen Cersei (voiced by the magnificent Lena Headey) icily informed those who do not silence their phones “will be boiled alive in the blood of their children…” The chilly announcement was understandably greeted with thunderous applause!
The concert kicked off with the unmistakable Game of Thrones theme, which really put everyone in the mood for more. As music scores from the first six seasons played, solo singers and musicians made full use of the extended catwalk stage, of which a major highlight was this violinist who soared almost 40 feet into the air as she performed a haunting House Stark theme.
There were so much action both on stage and on the big screen that sometimes you are torn between wanting to watch the show’s footage which you have already seen (but will never get tired of) or the soloists doing their bit live.
Djawadi, the talented genius that he is, performed a couple of solos too using either custom-made or unique musical instruments, as did a couple of musicians ranging from percussionists to horn players.
Most of the goose-bump-raising moments came from several dramatic events such as The Red Wedding, The Battle of the Bastards and Destruction of the Great Sept Of Baelor, the latter complete with green “wildfire” fumes engulfing Djawadi after his solo on a raised stage. Visually stunning, audibly heart-stopping.
SEASON 7’S HIGH POINTS
The second act was devoted to music from Season 7 which, if truth be told, I was looking forward to the most. From the poignant ‘Home’ as Arya Stark returns to Winterfell to the heartbreaking ‘Truth’ a.k.a Jon and Dany’s love theme, thanks to the almost flawless performance of the orchestra, one does feel as if transported to the realms of Westeros alongside the show’s characters. The dry ice effect on stage also helped much in making the audience imagined that they were in the miserly cold north too.
One of the most thrilling Season 7 events was of course Episode 4’s The Loot Train Attack which was presented with loads of fire pyrotechnics as Daenerys and Drogon breathed down on the Lannister army. Actually, there’s always some fire sprouts on stage whenever the dragons popped up on screen, much to anyone’s delight.
With Game of Thrones Season 7 ending – SPOILER ALERT – with the Night King and a resurrected Viserion bringing down the Wall, one thought the concert would end on that somber note but thankfully that wasn’t the case…
After making his thank you’s to all and sundry – including Game of Thrones crew members from the nearby Titanic Studios – Djawadi and company ended the over 2-hour-long show with yet another vigorous performance of the totally hummable theme song.
The really nice touch at the end, after the performers had taken their bows, was an In Memoriam segment featuring the dearly – and not so dearly – departed characters from Game of Thrones. Needless to say, this was a rather long sequence so most of us sat back down onto our seats. It was fun to hear cheers for favorites such as Ned and Rob Stark, Lady Olenna Tyrell and of course Hodor. The most hisses and boos was given to understandably Ramsey Bolton, while Littlefinger received sarcastic applause.
A MUST-SEE IF YOU LOVE ‘GAME OF THRONES’
All in all, the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience is worth every penny and a must-see if you are a big GOT fan. It’s akin to seven years of show highlights packaged as an extravaganza of live music and visual effects. Utterly exquisite.
The European leg of this year’s tour just ended in London yesterday. It will move on to Canada and America from September to October 2018. You can find more details on gameofthronesconcert.com. If you love classical music, with dramatic imagery to go along with it, you’d definitely enjoy the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience 2018.
Here’s hoping that the concert will come to Asia and also be released on digital/DVD format.