The epic music scores that play key roles in Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth trilogies Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and blockbuster series Game Of Thrones, are brought to life at the London Palladium.
The last thing I watched at the infamous London Palladium was last season’s pantomime, Snow White. Julian Clary, Dawn French, sequins, and nimble dancers – a show as camp as Christopher Biggins at a haberdashery.
But far from the panto pizzaz, this venue is not all Royal Variety and Joseph and his coat of many colours. In a U turn of appetite the show tonight, rather than bells and whistles, is more brass and flutes as A Celebration of the Music from Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and Game of Thrones takes the reigns with a full orc-hestra.
These franchises are of course celebrated for their stories, characters, and grandeur. But they are also in an exclusive club of media that is celebrated as often for its musical scores as it is for its score on Rotten Tomatoes.
It’s the height of Game of Thrones madness right now and I imagine that most of tonight’s crowd are here for that, but it’s far too early to discount the sheer Titanic taste of Tolkien that we’ll also be experiencing.
The first half of the night is dedicated to all things J.R.R. Usually at these sorts of shows the conductor will introduce the pieces, either via or screen or just with a little script. Tonight there’s none of that – not even a screen. At first I was a little disappointed, but actually what a pleasure it is to use only the sense of hearing to enjoy a concert. I’m not saying that it would work for every show, of course. You really do need to see Penn and Teller.
Starting with The Hobbit, the orchestra plays a stunning medley that includes the popular Misty Mountains piece that appears throughout the trilogy. It’s cellos galore as the sounds resonate across the historic London venue. Howard Shore’s scores for both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are epic in length and quality, though the latter did receive wider critical acclaim. His signature whimsical style is perfectly suited to the stories that they tell, and sitting back and closing your eyes while it plays live is now, in my opinion, the only way to hear it.
The Lord of the Rings pieces certainly evoke more of a response from the audience as excited gasps expel from different corners of the room as popular segments begin, particularly the Rohan Theme.
But as I said, most people have turned up for Ramin Djawadi’s fire breathing masterpiece that is Game of Thrones. The cello heavy score has reigned supreme longer than any King or Queen of Westeros and has been, in my opinion, key to the success of the HBO hit.
The theme, set to the now iconic mechanical credits of the series, opens the second half of the night. Very few composers can grip an audience at the opening credits time and time again, and stop us reaching for the fast forward button. Certainly the only example of recent success would be Hans Zimmer’s theme for The Crown – maybe it’s a German thing?
The setlist does not disappoint, taking us from series to series, highlighting the incredible power that music has for bringing fiction to reality. The cellos vibrate through the stacks, and the incredible choir bring an ancient sound to the 21st Century composer.
It’s all topped off with a stunning recital of Light of the Seven – the piece that accompanied one of the most blistering scenes in the show’s history at the beginning of series six.
While none of us are quite sure who will be comfortably nestled on the iron throne at the end of season eight, we can be damned sure that they’ll do it with plenty of bloodshed, and an incredible backing track!