Brian Tyler Returns: Live in Concert – London

Brian Tyler’s music is kind of a guilty pleasure for me. During a panel at this year’s film music festival in Krakow, Tyler admitted that he likes it loud and convinced the audience with a bombastic performance in the city’s sports arena. Before that performance he had already given a concert in London with the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Philharmonia Voices. Tyler apparently loved it so much that he recently announced his return to the same London venue with the same orchestra. Since I was already planning to visit London for the John Williams concert the next day, and given the fact that I had really enjoyed his performance in Krakow, attending this concert was a no-brainer for me.

What I like the most about Tyler’s music are the short and powerful themes, and it came as no surprise to me that he started with one of his strongest: the theme from Iron Man 3. Tyler is a great composer, who puts a lot of effort into his appearance. As I expected, he was very well dressed in black and he had made sure that his hair was in perfect shape. Most pieces during this concert were the massive-sounding themes that he has written for movies like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, the theme from Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron and “Fast Five”: his well-known theme from The Fast and the Furious franchise. In each track the whole orchestra had a lot of work to do: with most of the time fast rhythmic patterns in the strings and percussion and the brass musicians playing their melodies with full force, while Tyler conducted them with wild motions. There was also a small choir present, with microphones in their hands to enable them to sing over the massive sounds from the orchestra, which was amplified as well. Fortunately, not all the pieces of the concert were that bombastic: The music of both Now You See Me movies, for example, is less loud and has a more subtle sound to it. There is a part at the end of the theme of the first movie though, where the drummer had to go all out for the finale. The orchestra also played the lovely melodies from The Greatest Game Ever Played and Yellowstone to balance the loudness of the bombastic themes.

Tyler has also composed for video games and both pieces that were played that evening were among my personal highlights: Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag is such joyful music with lovely melodies in the violins, and I really liked Far Cry 3 a lot, with the choir singing, the beautiful violin solo and the drums. During the concert Tyler gave a small introduction before each piece , during which he told the audience small personal stories like his being a fan of things like Star Trek, Marvel, Formula 1 racing, and that he is now living the dream of composing music for what he has loved for so long. My favorite story was about the mini-series Children of Dune. Tyler had written music for the book when he was a child, and he included some of those early notes into the score of the series, which he was asked to compose later in his life. I have always loved the music from that series and it was magical to experience it live with Tyler himself conducting. He conducted almost the entire evening, except for a piece from Battle: LA for which he grabbed his electric guitar and played with the support of the orchestra.

For this concert Tyler also brought a guest: Vocalist Tori Letzer was present to sing the piece “Into Eternity” from Thor: The Dark World, which she originally recorded for the movie. Even though this was the second piece from that movie that was played that night, I did not mind at all, since I really like the score and Letzer’s performance was amazing. The only movie that received the same two-piece-treatment during the concert was the jazz music from Crazy Rich Asians, which Tyler had composed recently. The first was the theme for “Astrid,” with the inspiration of the piece, the actress Gemma Chan, present in the audience. The jazz musicians, who were present for this piece, together with the orchestra, did a terrific job. During the encore Tyler joined the musicians in the orchestra to play the drums and the piano for the second Crazy Rich Asians piece.

This concert met my expectations perfectly. You could see that Tyler was having a great time, in the way he danced on stage while he was conducting, but also in his small chats with the audience. He had even invited his family and some friends from the industry to enjoy the concert with him. It really felt like a fun get together with Brian Tyler, during which he put his heart and soul into giving the audience his best. If you had gone to this concert without knowing what to expect, you may have been somewhat disappointed. The heavy amplification of the orchestra creates a sound that is very different from an orchestra without the amplification. Also, a small 15-person choir sounds very different from a full choir. But since I came fully prepared, I had a great time. I had even brought my earplugs, but it turned out that they were not even necessary. The way the program was structured had also been thought through very well. Each half started with a powerful – and loud – theme followed by a mix of further forceful themes and more subtle pieces. Judging by the loud applause and noisy cheering, the audience, including me, had an amazing time.

Concert information

Where: Royal Festival Hall in London, UK
When: October 25, 2018
Orchestra and choir: Philharmonia Orchestra and Philharmonia Voices conducted by Brian Tyler
Vocalist: Tori Letzler

Program

  • Iron Man 3
  • “Heroes United” from 2018 Winter Olympics
  • Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
  • Star Trek: Enterprise
  • Now You See Me
  • Theme from Yellowstone
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Far Cry 3
  • Transformers Prime
  • “Into Eternity” from Thor: The Dark World
    • Vocals: Tori Letzler
  • Fast Five
  • Now You See Me 2
  • The Mummy

Intermission

  • Thor: The Dark World
  • “Astrid” from Crazy Rich Asians
  • Power Rangers
  • The Greatest Game Ever Played
  • Battle: LA
  • Universal Pictures 100th Anniversary Theme
    • Original theme by Jerry Goldsmith
  • “Summon the Worms” from Children of Dune
  • “Drift and Fall Again” from Criminal
    • Vocals: Tori Letzler
    • Composed as MadSonik
  • Formula 1 Theme
  • One Strange Rock
    • Composed by Zedd
    • Orchestrated by Brian Tyler
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Drum solo (encore)
  • “Text Ting Swing” from Crazy Rich Asians (encore)

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