Special thanks to our friends at Hans-Zimmer.com
April 16th 2016 was definitely an important date in my life. Why, you ask? I was able to attend a Hans Zimmer concert in the SAP Arena in Mannheim, Germany! I had been waiting for this moment for such a long time. Hans' music has been an integral part of my life since forever as his music got me hooked at a very early age. From his first Hollywood score Rain Man to Driving Miss Daisy, Thelma & Louise, A League Of Their Own, Black Rain, Backdraft, The Lion King, Beyond Rangoon, The Rock, Crimson Tide, The Dark Knight Trilogy and so many more. His musical style, his ability and his genius to craft either a very emotional and subtle or a bombastic piece of music has always fascinated me and he has rightfully taken his spot in film music history as one of the greatest composers.Photo Credit:
In 2009, I believe it was, Hans toyed with the idea of staging some concerts and I was excited already. Unfortunately, it was impossible at that time, since Hans had simply always been so busy. When in November 2015 it was announced that Hans would stage a European Tour and that he would also show up in Germany and kick things off in Mannheim, I was beyond excited and I could not order my ticket fast enough. It was a dream come true, and the whole tour is a true gift for every one of Hans' many fans. 38 dates in total all across Europe. This is huge indeed and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience one hell of a musical ride!
Now, let's take a look at the show in Mannheim. I was pumped and excited already weeks before the concert and my nervousness got bigger and bigger the closer the concert got. At 8pm the arena was packed and everybody was waiting for the spectacle to begin. Then it happened: The opening bars of Driving Miss Daisy were played and then the master walked on stage to a huge applause. Hans sat down at the piano playing the "Driving Miss Daisy Theme" and then Richard Harvey and the other band members joined in to perform one of Hans' catchiest themes ever. After a trip down memory lane with Miss Daisy, Sherlock Holmes and "Discombobulate" took over. The band including for instance Ann Marie Simpson, Richard Harvey, Nick Glennie-Smith, Tina Guo and Rusanda Panfili did a great job performing this particular piece, which was a part of the opening medley. Yet, we were not quite through with said medley and in addition to the band, the orchestra joined in for a great performance of "Rescue Me" from Madagascar 2. When the full string section came to life, it simply put a big smile on my face! We were ten minutes into the show and in my opinion it could not have started with better feel good moments. What an awesome start!
Rusanda Panfili, Tina Guo, Ann Marie Simpson & Hans ZimmerThen Hans took some time to welcome the audience and he not only was a musician that night but also a host, explaining some details about the movies and how certain things came together. He did so with Crimson Tide. He stated that incorporating a choir into the score was a decision the producers were not too thrilled about at first but Hans convinced them after all and the rest, as they say, is history. Crimson Tide is one of Hans' landmark scores and I love it to this very day. Now, let's go on with the concert, since the audience was in for a real treat: A medley of Crimson Tide and Angels & Demons. Crimson Tide was rearranged and they started with the choir part which could be heard in full glory on the album's piece “Roll Tide”. What a fantastic way to start this medley. After the choir, Guthrie Govan took over playing the electric guitar and then the "Crimson Tide Theme", which is beloved by so many fans, was performed wonderfully with great string playing and fantastic choral moments. This piece was one of the stand out moments of the entire night and the build-up of the theme, the arrangement and the performance were absolutely outstanding. After Crimson Tide, drummer Satnam Ramgotra performed a great drum solo which also served as the transition to "160 BPM" from Angels & Demons. This entire segment was phenomenal and it delivered a musical spectacle that left me speechless. The sheer energy and force of the orchestra and choir absolutely stunned the audience. What a night so far.
Then, as Hans put it, we were going from one Scott brother to another. Gladiator, one of Hans' best, most glorious and emotional scores was next on the list. This score has been in my Zimmer Top 5 for a long time now, and the entire album presentation as well as the impact inside the film itself are incredible. The score simply remains one of Hans' crowning achievements to this day. This medley was arranged very well, covering several score highlights. Before the medley started, Hans gave another introduction, talking about Ridley Scott and also Lisa Gerrard, who could not attend the tour. Yet, another great singer, Czarina Russell, performed instead. She really captured the beauty of “The Wheat” and as heard on the original Gladiator album, there was the seamless transition to “The Battle”, which is one of Hans' best pieces ever. Hans this time played the guitar and the entire band, plus orchestra gave us a bravura performance. The medley was concluded by the emotional “Honor Him” and Ms. Russell's beautiful vocal performance of “Now We Are Free”.
To me, one of the best scores of Hans' entire career has got to be The Da Vinci Code. A score of absolute beauty and emotion. For the concert, they picked one of the album's stand out pieces: "Chevaliers De Sangreal". The opening bars were played and Rusanda Panfili slowly walked to the center of the stage. Her violin playing was simply wonderful and intriguing, as was Tina Guo's cello performance.The entire build-up of the piece and the climactic moments were thrilling and gave me goosebumps once again.
The evening just kept getting better and better, since next on the list was The Lion King. It is a phenomenal score and I was especially excited for this part. The great Lebo M walked out on stage and gave us the fantastic and memorable chant which accompanied the opening credits of the movie. It was great to see Lebo up there and hear his magnificent voice which we could also marvel at in “Lea Halalela” a beautiful piece which was featured on the album Rhythm Of The Pride Lands. The fantastic medley came to an end with the stellar “King Of Pride Rock”. WOW, this part delivered moments of excellence, beauty and absolute nostalgia. It brought back so many childhood memories and it felt like a journey through time!
Lebo M, Zoe Mthiyane, Czarina Russell & Hans ZimmerThe concert was really on a roll and so far worth every penny of the admission and the audience clearly loved it! We were in for yet another treat and stunning moments: Pirates Of The Caribbean is one of those movies that basically everybody knows and back in 2003, the film quickly became a huge hit. The same goes for the music. Those tunes are so well known all over the world and I was really looking forward to this segment, which delivered further incredible moments of the night and the entire performance of “Jack Sparrow”, the "Marry Me Suite" and "He's a Pirate" were simply a knock out. So far there had been quite a few moments that left me absolutely speechless with my jaw on the floor, but this was something else. After this world class and fun performance, both the musicians and the audience took a break to relax and I guess many in the audience really needed the intermission to simply process what they had experienced so far!
Roughly thirty minutes after the break, Hans and band returned to the stage, performing a more lighthearted piece from True Romance and I must say "You're So Cool" heard live is indeed as cool as ever. It was great to hear something lighthearted, since it not only offered great variety but the audience could also relax a bit, since some of the biggest and strongest pieces were yet to come.
Hans' first score in Hollywood is still one of my favorites to this day. Rain Man is not only a fantastic film, but the score is a perfect fit for the film as well. Hans sat down at the piano again and played his lovely theme. The band pitched in and the result was a great version of one of Hans' most important themes ever.
Next on the list was a piece of music which had quickly become quite popular and it certainly is an interesting piece, yet at first, I did not think it was a necessary part of the concert program. However, as soon as the piece was performed this impression quickly changed and I simply liked the energetic presentation of “What Are You Going To Do When You Are Not Saving The World”. By saying it might not have been a necessity as far as the musical selection is concerned, I simply meant to bring across that there are so many pieces I would have loved to hear that night. Pieces of other fantastic scores that had been left out. But at the end of the day, you have to make a decision about the musical presentation. Nevertheless, the Man Of Steel presentation was very good!
Now let's examine one of Hans' best known and most impressive pieces of music ever. A piece which has been used in quite a few trailers throughout the years and a piece that to this day always gives me goosebumps. The entire score stands as one of Hans Zimmer's finest achievements. Yes, I am talking about “Journey To The Line” from the Thin Red Line. This cue is simply magical as was the playing that night.
After this breathtaking last part, things got a little crazier, louder and more colorful: It was "Electro” time. This part was quite something to say the very least. It was a crazy and absolutely unbelievable on stage performance. The lighting was once again amazing, the sound was forceful, the choir was great and it was simply put, one hell of a concert experience. WOW, I was simply speechless and completely blown away, not to mention overwhelmed!
Speaking of overwhelming: The Dark Knight segment followed. This way beyond exciting and simply absolutely amazing. "The Joker Suite" was on first and the execution and presentation were indescribable and simply unlike anything I had ever seen on stage before. The first part was followed by a fabulous rock arrangement of “Like A Dog Chasing Cars”. Things got even more powerful with a combination of “Gothams's Reckoning” and “The Fire Rises”. This part really knocked my socks off! The world class playing and the power of this segment represented some of the most awe-inspiring moments of the entire concert. After musical “chaos and mayhem”, things turned emotional as Hans told the story of the origins of the beautiful “Aurora” which was given a great choir treatment and it was a fitting end to the entire Dark Knight segment.
The entire concert went by so fast and with the next part of the list we had nearly reached the end of a fantastic show. I am glad the music of Christopher Nolan's most recent masterpiece had also been selected. The film itself is awesome and the music is an integral part of this cinematic journey. This was one of my most frequently played albums of 2014 and it simply stands as one of Hans' very best scores for a Nolan picture. The gentle touch and hypnotic sound was brilliantly captured that night. The segment began with the beautiful "Day One" and was followed by “No Time For Caution” which quickly became a fan favorite and it was brought to new life that night. The medley was closed by an emotional version of "Stay". This time the original string motif was played on the electric guitar by Guthrie Govan and the climactic moments were beautifully captured by the entire orchestra.
The audience applauded like crazy and gave a well-deserved standing ovation. Hans asked whether his fans liked what they heard that night and they responded with a huge round of applause. Was this the end? Yes, at least according to the program. However, the fans would not yet leave the arena and certain sound fragments indicated what would be up next: A special Inception encore. Inception probably stands as one of Mr. Nolan's most complex and best films yet. The score inside the picture had captured my attention right from the beginning when it was released. Fans experienced one more special medley with the opening bars of “Half Remembered Dream”, the wonderful "Dream Is Collapsing", the highly energetic and entertaining "Mombasa" and of course "Time" ,which closed the show brilliantly and delivered yet another emotional moment.
What can I say about this night and concert? It was a special occasion filled with powerful, emotional and also very nostalgic and magical moments. A concert of this magnitude had been desired by many fans for years and finally their wish had been granted. The musicianship, the energy, the excitement, the fun, the execution, it was simply beyond awesome and one of the greatest moments in my life. I was definitely highly satisfied with the musical selection, even though, as a long time Hans Zimmer fan, I can certainly think of so many pieces that would have made that night even more special and magical. Yet, the final presentation made me a very happy man, and it was a one-of-a-kind experience and a gift to every Hans Zimmer fan out there. Furthermore, I would like to thank Hans Zimmer for his brilliant music. I would like to thank everybody involved in the making of this huge tour and I would like to thank our friends at Hans-Zimmer.com for supplying every fan with all the necessary information about Hans in general and this tour in particular. I will never ever forget this night. I was able to see one of my all time favorite composers live on stage. It was a fantastic musical journey. Those are the moments in life which I will never ever take for granted, moments that every fan should treasure and moments that will last forever.