Hans Zimmer enchants the Wembley Arena and donates proceeds to Grenfell Tower’s victims
Just like Ennio Morricone in his heydey, Hans Zimmer is not only the most influential music composer in the film industry, he’s also one of the most prolific. The German maestro wasn’t someone to take his music on a stage but everything changed three years ago when he started regular and extensive worldwide tours. Last night he came back to the Wembley Arena after the sold-out double date in April 2016 and it was – once again – a success.
Zimmer entered the stage alone, and in the spotlight started to play the notes of Driving from the Driving Miss Daisy soundtrack. One by one, each musician joined the performance, the orchestra and Crouch End Festival Chorus revealed last. Then he left the piano and jumped on banjo duties, showing off his versatility right away.
“London, you are my second home,” were the first words from the German composer. “I can’t not mention what happened yesterday […] I want to do one thing I haven’t discussed with anyone yet, I will give all the proceeds of this concert to them [Grenfell Tower families].” As a standing ovation welcomed his promise along with the “we are London” scream, Zimmer introduced Roll Tide from Crimson Tide, which then turned into 160 BPM from Angels and Demons.
More than on record, live you can see the difference in style between the upbeat, rockier and more fun elements of some of his scores – Madagascar, Pirates of the Caribbean and Sherlock Holmes for instance – and the sophistication and timeless elegance of some others – The Thin Red Line and Interstellar above all.
In between songs, Zimmer shares countless anecdotes, sometimes losing the thread too. “We were in Surrey, shooting Gladiator, where Ridley Scott recreated the Roman battlefield […] and I thought of all the blood of these slaves […] and decided to take something trivial – the Viennese Waltz – and make it savage [for The Battle].” They performed a fantastic selection of four pieces from that soundtrack, culminating with Now We Are Free. Sadly, Lisa Gerrard, who originally sang it (in a language she developed), wasn’t on stage to deliver what is still the most ethereal moment of Zimmer’s entire discography. Family friend Czarina Russell, who tours with them regularly, seamlessly filled in for her. But it wasn’t the only “family moment”, instead of Johnny Marr (who worked with Zimmer on Inception and The Amazing Spider-Man 2), his son Nile Marr was on guitar duties; it must be in the blood because he fully conveyed Marr’s unique dirty, nerve-racking sound.
Among the various stories told last night, two are worthy of a mention: the Frankfurt composer first apologised to Ron Howard as he is still fiddling with Chevaliers de Sangreal (it has an Interstellar-esque tone now) from The Da Vinci Code – “Sorry Ron, I’m still hunting something down, it’s not finished, this piece” – then he confessed he took the Lion King gig just to take his daughter Zoe Zimmer (who was in the audience) to the future premiere – good call considering it’s still his only oscar-winning score. The Disney film’s medley, with the original singer Lebo M, was one of the highlights of the evening.
There was also a surprise, fun moment, when Trevor Horn came on stage to sing Video Killed the Radio Star. Wearing eccentric sunglasses, it was a momentary return to the early 80s (technically late 70s) when Zimmer was a synthesiser sessionman (he’s in the music video too, check it out) who played on that song.
After the super-hero part of the concert – Man of Steel, Batman vs Superman‘s Wonderwoman Theme, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and The Dark Knight (when he shared a long, heartfelt memory of Heath Ledger) – the show peaked with Interstellar and Inception. Stay and Time are the clearest examples of Zimmer’s evolution as a composer, and we can’t but expect something truly extraordinary from Dunkirk, due for release next month.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
For further information about Hans Zimmer and future events visit here.