I was curious in seeing Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience, despite having not even finished the first episode, based mainly on the strength of the music I’d heard. Along with all the merchandise I’ve passed on over the years, I’ve also watched videos analyzing the psychology of certain characters, so I figured this would be a good chance to dive into the series. Would this concert, were it to return next year, convince someone that otherwise had no interest in the series to investigate further? Does the music stand alone and work on its own?
Rating: ★★★☆☆ [3/5]
Without general or current knowledge of the series, the fancy screens just displayed scenes that most certainly contained spoilers, although during an extended battle scene toward the end of the concert, I thought about the answer to that first question. The further along the scene went – first starting off with a conflict between two people, then a third joins to assist, before two factions engage in an all-out war – the more I thought about how the scenes look nice and there’s a certain visceral feeling toward seeing fighting. It’s just that it was a celebration of style over substance.
Without the context of the series, I couldn’t really follow the music’s flow from one song into the next in a way that could let it stand on its own. Composer Ramin Djawadi is for me, based on what I’ve heard of his work, an average composer at best with the occasionally inspired moment. His compositions don’t quite stride with the same swagger as videogame composer Uematsu Nobuo nor do they reach the same crescendos as Symphony and Metallica. Vigorous pianist Glenn Gould might hypothetically have had a challenge adapting this soundtrack’s music to stand independently and rock band Minibosses performs videogame music covers with such energy they don’t necessitate context.
That said, Djawadi had some tricks up his sleeve.
The concert was split into two sets, each one hour long, with a thirty minute intermission. Djawadi toured with a band of collaborators on instruments ranging from woodwind and drums to hammered dulcimer and allowed local talent to muscle the more routine orchestral sections, which along with a stage design that thrust key musicians into parts of the arena, gave off the impression that this was almost a composer’s interpretation of a rock concert or a way to modernize classical music. The first set had more variety of music while the second set had more reliance on extended clips from the series to soak in while the orchestra accompanied with a live soundtrack.
Even though much of the review focused on negatives, it’s still a fun experience, and I still think this concert series can hold a valuable spot in interesting younger demographics in classical music by celebrating either the music of Game of Thrones or another series that might be the next pop culture sensation. That’s subversive and cool. It might just need a bump in substance.
Swag: “Music is Coming” shirt