Performing a live concert series for the first time, Hans Zimmer gave the audience a rare glimpse of the collaborative magic that goes on inside his recording studio.
On Friday, Zimmer brought together an ensemble of artists who have worked with him on film scores over the years at the Microsoft Theater. The show featured some of the Grammy- and Academy Award-winning composer’s best-known music from films, including “Interstellar,” “Inception” and “The Dark Knight” trilogy.
So many musicians are meant for studios and not stages – players, not performers.
Before the show, the most prevailing question was how the legendary composer and his musicians would adapt to a live setting. Zimmer’s technical engineer, Chuck Choi, smiled and said to expect an amazing show.
The theater went dark and “Discombobulate” from “Sherlock Holmes” resounded. Zimmer strode onto the stage in a black suit, illuminated by a single spotlight. White lights and lifted curtains revealed an elaborate setup. Musicians played on different tiers of the stage.
Zimmer addressed the audience after the opening number, telling them how it had taken him 30 years to get onto a stage.
“Everybody was saying, ‘Go get out of your dark windowless room,’ and look where I am!” he joked, referring to the Microsoft Theater and its 7,100 seats.
At the very outset, Zimmer said the show was about friendship, dedicating the night to his musicians.
“Without them, I am nothing,” Zimmer said. “Without them, there is only silence.”
The composer’s word held true as he introduced and praised his collaborators individually, himself playing alongside them on most tracks.
The show sailed into the “Pirates of the Caribbean” theme with a focus on renowned cellist Tina Guo, whom Zimmer admired for her dedication. Guo brought the film’s playful, adventurous feel to the stage by flipping her hair and turning her electric cello in her arms, almost as if channeling Captain Jack Sparrow.
With the “Circle of Life” from “The Lion King,” the track’s original singer, Lebo M., and his daughter took the audience to the grasslands of Africa with soulful vocals in their native language. Zimmer commended Lebo M., a political refugee, calling him the true Lion King.
During the intermission, “Game of Thrones” music composer Ramin Djawadi told the Daily Bruin that he started out as an assistant and got his break under Zimmer.
“He’s a brilliant man,” Djawadi said. “It’s really great to see him on stage now, performing all his great repertoire of music.”
For most of the show, Zimmer played the keys, but also showed his true mastery by playing other instruments such as the banjo and the guitar, both electric and acoustic.
One of the most anticipated sections of the night comprised music from “Interstellar” and lasted around 15 minutes, bringing tears to some people’s eyes. A combination of overwhelming scores and thematic visual projections on the background screen simulated a reflective atmosphere, as if the audience members were stuck floating among the stars.
The power of Zimmer’s compositions were in the nostalgia they evoked for the films and the memories people associated with them.
Zimmer kept the evening intimate and personal. From candid anecdotes about the inspiration behind scores to revealing his conversations with famous figures like Ridley Scott and Christopher Nolan, Zimmer succeeded in bringing the show to a human level despite the superhero music that gave the audience a larger-than-life experience.
The emotional peak of the show occurred before “Aurora,” a single track dedicated to the victims of the tragic 2012 shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Zimmer said he wanted to compose a piece that felt like he and his musicians were reaching out to embrace the victims.
While performing, Zimmer showed no hints of pretension. Instead of merely waving a conductor’s baton at his players like the stereotypical composer, he communicated with them through amiable glances and hand gestures that were understood instantly, like friends who’ve known each other for ages.
The result was spellbinding synergy between musicians and composer.
“The operative word in music is ‘play,’ and we get to live a playful life,” Zimmer said with a smile. “And I have to tell you something, I highly recommend it.”
“Hans Zimmer Revealed” was a grand collaborative effort, a nostalgic and sobering reminder that living for music is probably one of the best ways to live.