In 2016 composer Ramin Djawadi announced a spectacular concert tour called Game of Thrones Live Experience, featuring his music from the hit TV series Game of Thrones. It sounded so awesome that I even traveled to New York to experience it in Madison Square Garden. It was a show that I will never forget. It had a spectacular stage in the middle of the venue, with all kinds of special effects build around that concert. I concluded that report with the following:
“I really hope they will take this show to Europe, so more people can experience it. The special stage, although a very nice addition, is not even needed: just play the music with a local orchestra and band on stage with a screen behind them – it will work very well.”
Apparently, Djawadi had the same idea and a new tour was announced for Europe, with shows in the USA again later this year. He must have been given the same advice for the stage on this tour, because it only occupied one side of the venue, with a single large screen behind the orchestra and the choir. Next to this screen, however, there were two additional small side screens and there was a walkway in front of the stage with extra platforms installed that was surrounded by the audience. Since the New York concert was such a pleasure to attend, I decided to see the new show in my home country, in the city of Amsterdam.
This report will be slightly different from what you are used to from me on this site. The program for this tour is roughly the same as of the New York show, including all the gimmicks Djawadi and his musicians did. If you are interested in those, I would recommend reading my New York report. Some pieces have been switched around, and the last part of the show focused on music from the latest season, that had not been released yet during the 2017 tour. In this report I will focus on the differences and the highlights of the evening.
The concert was off to a bit of a rough start. We Dutch are known for always being on time, and the venue was packed with people at the starting time of 8 PM sharp. At that point it still took more than 5 minutes for the orchestra and choir to appear on stage. After another couple of minutes, the concertmaster finally started the tuning process that happens at the start of every concert. When that was done we still had to wait a long time before the lights of the venue dimmed and it wasn’t until 8:20 PM before we could enjoy “Main Titles.” It was quite funny to hear Ramin Djawadi do a large piece of his introduction in Dutch. The first half of the concert was roughly the same as in New York, but the production had also upped the ante, as could be experienced during “Goodbye Brother”, when violinist Molly Rogers was lifted more than 10 meters in the air while playing her part, revealing a long and beautiful dress while red leaves were falling from the ceiling. Pedro Eustache also made his appearance for this tour. He has been a very busy man, having just completed the German leg of The World of Zimmer tour, and he went crazy on a tube making strange sounds and blowing into a huge horn during “White Walkers,“ like he did in New York. It was awesome to see that the special effects made their return. “Dracarys” introduced the fire cannons, for example, which were installed on stage. “Mhysa” concluded this half of the concert and it evoked an even more emotional response from me than it did the previous time – with even more tears and goosebumps.
The second half was spectacular as well. It contained some of the excellent pieces that I know so well. For example, Ramin Djawadi playing keyboards – on one of the small stages – during “Light of the Seven,” which ended with him covered in green smoke. He also made some adjustments on “Reign,” where he supported the electric cello of Cameron Stone with his own electric guitar, making this piece even more impressive. The last part of this half contained all kinds of new music from the seventh season, which I had not heard live before. The music was quite a pleasure to listen to, but for me it does not really stand out from the music of earlier seasons. At the end I was hoping for “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” as the encore, but we could enjoy an alternate version of the “Main Titles” instead.
The big question is, of course, whether it was worth seeing this concert for the second time. I am happy to say that it totally was. The changes they had to make to perform in European venues did not make the show any less. I was happy that most of his musicians had joined Djawadi for this tour as well. Each of them had their own way of entertaining the audience when they got their turn to perform on the little platforms. This way you always had something to look at if you do not want to look at the screen. I love the idea that Djawadi uses multiple local orchestras and choirs for his tours since it introduces them how popular this new music for media is. I enjoyed this concert just as much as a did the one in Madison Square Garden. The American audience was more enthusiastic though, they were shouting during the scenes on the screen for “Mhysa,” “Dracarys” and “Shame,” while we Dutch brainlessly applauded, with an occasional yell, after each piece. They enjoyed it immensely though, but we still have a lot much to learn from the Americans when it comes to express their enthusiasm.
Where and when: Amsterdam, The Netherlands on May 21, 2018
Orchestra: Folkwang Orchestra Essen conducted by Ramin Djawadi
Choir: Gospel choir Spirits of Change
Soloists: Stevvi Alexander (vocals), Molly Rogers (violin), Cameron Stone (cello), Pedro Eustache (flutes and beyond), Michael Sobie (keyboards and conductor), Alan Lightner (percussion), Davey Chegwidden (percussion) en M.B. Gordy (percussion)
- Game of Thrones: Main Title
- House Themes: Medley
- Goodbye Brother
- Love In The Eyes / Finale
- The Red Woman / Wildfire
- The Rains of Castamere
- The Lannisters Send Their Regards
- White Walkers / You Know Nothing
- The Children
- High Sparrow
- My Watch Has Ended / Hold The Door
- Let’s Play a Game / Bastard
- Light of the Seven
- The Winds of Winter
- I Am the Storm / The Queen’s Justice / Spoils of War
- Winter Is Here / The Army of the Dead
- Game of Thrones: Main Title (Encore)