Review By CRAIG HAMMONS
After seeing some of Hans Zimmer’s performance footage from Coachella it was going to be mandatory for me to see this modern day genius of a composer when he came back to town. Hans was wrapping up the final shows of his 2017 tour this last weekend with shows at the Shrine and Sunday at the Santa Barbara Bowl.
On this tour he brings along a 19-piece studio band, a full orchestra and choir line that stretches the whole width of the stage. I knew it would be a special event, so I got to the Shrine in plenty of time. The long stretch of tour buses lined the street. I hung outside the backstage door for a while hoping to get to meet the man who created the soundtrack to some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. But security said I just missed him by a couple of minutes while he was outside having a cigarette.
Driving Miss Daisy, Sherlock Holmes
I made my way to the top of the Shrine ready for the musical feast that awaits me. The lights went down and applause rang out and there was Hans sitting at small ornate piano playing a piece from “Driving Miss Daisy.” The show slowly builds with pieces from “Sherlock Holmes” where Hans played banjo and “Crimson Tide” and “Madagascar” before getting into a medley from “Gladiator.” Hans said he originally worked with the vocalist Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance for the soundtrack but tonight the vocals were handled by the wonderful Czarina Russell as well as the captivating full choir. He next spotlighted the theme to “The Da Vinci Code” which had an exquisite violin solo.
“The Lion King Medley” was next where he brought out Lebo M to bring back his famous chants to Elton John’s “Circle of Life.” Cheers of joy rang out as the audience got into the festive feel of these songs.
Tonight’s show was starting to feel like a rock concert with the lights, guitars and pounding drums and the next medley of songs would prove it. It let the dynamic powerhouse composer and electric cello player Tina Guo lose on the “Pirates of the Caribbean Medley.” She creates excitement as she attacks her cello with her bow of passion. The music swells as Hans looks over at her with a smile. You can almost feel Jack Sparrow crashing his pirate ship on stage. All the musicians are spot on for this big challenging piece that makes us feel like we are all onboard this musical ship of adventure.
Man of Steel, Spider Man
Hans then played a couple of themes from some famous comic book characters that became movie stars “Man of Steel” and “The Amazing Spider Man 2.” But the piece that moved me the most was “The Dark Knight Suite.” It was easy to capture the audience with the musical intensity of this piece while letting each musician to shine. At the end Hans spoke briefly about the Aurora Colorado mass killing during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” He said he felt he had to write a piece of music that would feel like arms were wrapped around you holding you safe. He then went into a beautiful piano piece simply called “Aurora.”
The last piece of the night was the “The Interstellar Medley” which starts with just a few piano chords and then builds slowly with guitars and bass that rattle the rafters. It moves into a dramatic finale where we are ready to blast off. Hans steps out from behind his keyboards to conduct as they reached the final crescendo. He then introduced the each member of the band before leaving the stage with the audience on their feet and in awe of the musical spectacle they just witnessed.
A standing ovation and thunderous applause brought everyone back out on stage for an encore with “The Inception Medley” where Hans strapped on a guitar and played like a true rock star. The powerful chords of this piece pounded in my heart while tears of joy swelled in my eyes. The percussion movement in the piece creates suspense and excitement as music over takes you. The strings then take over only to fade with Hans sitting alone at his piano playing two notes slowly as he ends the lights go out and the show is over.
Tonight’s show proved what a brilliant performer, composer and all around good guys Hans Zimmer is.
He never had one piece of sheet music in front of him for this almost three hour show. They all took their final bow and the Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” came over the speaker system. We all exited the building satisfied that we had all just beheld on the greatest musical experiences of our lifetime.