HBO’s “Game of Thrones” remains one of the most talked about and anticipated television series to date. And for the second year in a row, the “Game of Thrones: Live Concert Experience” tour is underway in both Europe and North America. One of its returning locations: the Forum in Inglewood, Calif.
Lead by composer Ramin Djawadi, a live orchestra and choir plays tracks from all seven seasons of the series; the music is accompanied by a large screen (and two small ones) that project highlights of each season that corresponds with the scores.
For those who may not know, Djawadi is the mastermind behind all of the show’s soundtracks. In addition to his work on “Game of Thrones,” he has other big name television series such as “Westworld,” “Prison Break,” and “Person of Interest” under his belt (not to mention the many motion pictures he has composed for as well). He truly is a pioneer in the realm of soundtracks, which is why it is unsurprising that thousands of fans would gather to see his music performed live.
Before the performance can even begin, the audience is buzzing in anticipation. I find myself surrounded by fans in “Game of Thrones” T-Shirts — and in some cases even cosplay — all of whom are excitedly bouncing in their seats. Conversations about everything to do with the show, from series recaps to fan theories are being held. The screen is displaying a slideshow of close-ups of multiple characters from the show, and the suspense for the performance continually builds.
At around 8:15 p.m. the lights begin to dim, and the audience appropriately booms in response. The voice of character Cersei Lannister (played by actress Lena Heady) fills the theater, reminding the “Lords and ladies, and… peasants” of the audience to quiet their devices, or to face the consequences of being “boiled alive in the blood of their children.”
The musicians and singers of the show then make their way on stage, accompanied by Djawadi. He announces that he has just won an Emmy for his work on the series, and expresses his excitement to be on tour for the second year in a row. He turns around, and the familiar tones of the “Game of Thrones” theme song begins to play.
The show is officially on the road.
This concert contains far more than a live orchestra accompanied by projected season highlights however; not to forget, this is an experience. Similar to the extravagance of the series itself, there are flashing lights and colored fog, bursts of fire (dragons) and falling confetti.
Near the beginning of the performance, a violinist is suspended in the air, wearing a skirt that billows for what seems like miles below her. The visual is meant to recreate the Winterfell Tree from the series — a Weirwood tree. Rose petals stream around her as she beautifully plays the “House Stark” theme.
Performers come on and off of the rising platforms that are located in front of the main stage. This includes, but is not limited to, a drum circle (and line), a magnificent wind instrument extravaganza (featuring a didgeridoo), choir members and the main singer of the show walking in an inspiring formation, and even solo performances by Djawadi himself on both the guitar and oregon.
The audience is absolutely immersed throughout the whole experience, collectively whooping and booing when certain characters appear on screen. In between pieces, during the few moments of silence, many hecklers make their voices heard, exclaiming “I want chicken!” “Shame!” and even “You’re a badass Ramin!” All of which are followed by a domino of yelled replies (and some shushes) in response.
In one of my favorite details of the night, the sign for intermission periodically changes to be written in the multiple languages featured throughout the show.
The way the show is laid out perfectly encapsulates the focal points of each of the seven seasons. I can even overhear people around me talking in sync with some of the iconic pieces of dialogue on screen. At one point, Djawadi teases the audience by hinting at how he gets to see all of the episodes of each season before we do (though he promises he has seen none of season eight yet).
The steady rhythm of the drums remains a fixture throughout the night. The juxtaposition between the deep sounds of the cello mingling with the lighter notes of violins and wind instruments create a beautiful full sound that can tell the tale of each scene. As the night progresses, I see why this music extends far past being a sound to fill the void of silence in the background of the show. Rather, a consistent and vital piece of art that supports and guides the audience through the journey of the series.
All in all, this concert was a true example of how strong the bond can be between the fans of a show. The immense talent of the artists behind the music was underscored, and Djawadi’s ability to perfectly capture the essence of the series is more than emphasized. I found myself with goosebumps for nearly the entirety of the concert as each song reignited both flames of nostalgia for the previous seasons and an excitement for the new one to come.