Hans Zimmer April 21, Park Theater
I must confess that I was unable to review Hans Zimmer's Park Theater show while it happened. The pen I'd brought with me ran out of ink, and I left my phone in my car by accident. (And I was unable to retrieve it because, for perhaps the first time in my concert-going life, the show began exactly on time.) But it wasn't the worst thing that could have happened: Freed from the temptation of snapping pictures of the stage, scribbling notes on the show or even checking the time, I was obliged to simply watch the show, letting the music overwhelm whatever real-time opinions I might have formulated. Zimmer very nearly drowned out the sound of my critical voice. The Oscar-winning film composer brought with him a large rock ensemble, a string and horn section and a choir, and over the course of 14 pieces (with an intermission), they played in every part of the audible spectrum. The show had more epic quiet-to-loud moments than many shoegaze bands can muster in a career.
Zimmer gave us medleys of cues from nearly all of his best-known scores (The Lion King, Gladiator and Pirates of the Caribbean were all represented) and dug into what I'd consider his deep cuts (including The Thin Red Line, True Romance and The Amazing Spider-Man 2). He played on nearly every imaginable emotion, from nostalgia (True Romance, a medley of Rain Man and Thelma & Louise) to rage (The Dark Knight, Angels & Demons) to excitement (Man of Steel, Crimson Tide). Most of the cues were faithfully translated from sound stage to concert stage, but in a live setting—with dozens of musicians going for broke, at full amplification—the rock influences of cues like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice's "Is She With You?" were allowed, freed from the burden of taking second position to explosions, to fully come to the fore. On record, "Mombasa," from Inception, is a pulse-pounding chase music cue, but on stage, it became nothing short of a good-natured prog rock duel between drummer Satnam Ramgotra and guitarist Niles Marr (son of Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, who played on the original cut).
My only criticism of the program is that it almost got too heavy in its second half. While the scores from Thin Red Line and Zimmer's DC superhero films are exciting, they're also humorless and menacing, and I found myself wishing for an uplifting moment after the Dark Knight medley—perhaps another appearance from vocalist Lebo M, whose exuberant Lion King performance was a show highlight. (He reappeared during "Aurora," Zimmer's dirge for the victims of the 2012 Aurora, Colorado theater shooting, but his contribution was muted and expectedly somber.) But taken on balance, Zimmer's concert was a joyful tribute not only to his storied career, but to the musicians who'd helped him to realize it. I would happily see it again, sans notebook and phone.