The World of Hans Zimmer at Wembley Arena
I have been a Hans Zimmer fan since I was 11. Mufasa rushes to the gorge to save Simba from the wildebeest stampede, Scar betrays his brother and murders the king, and little Simba is left crying over his father’s body. All this while the majestic To Die For… takes our emotions for a wild, intense journey. I was hooked for life.
As I grew up Hans’s music marked every rite of passage of my life. Rocket Away as Nicolas Cage launches green flares in The Rock blew my mind as a teenager. Journey to the Line as American soldiers massacre a Japanese outpost in The Thin Red Line brought me to tears then as it does now, every time I listen to it.
Hans’s body of work progressed all the way through Pirates of the Caribbean to the Christopher Nolan movies and I saw the once niche film composer I knew as a child become the most successful person in the film score industry. The rockstar of film composers.
And that brings us to The World of Hans Zimmer, a collection of Hans’s work that was presented in London at the SSE Arena Wembley on 23rd March.
One word to describe the night? Breathtaking.
For this tour, Hans Zimmer himself is not present, and to make up for his absence he regularly appears throughout the concert on huge screens behind the orchestra, to introduce the pieces and accompany us through the journey.
The screens also serve as a complimentary multimedia experience. Images from the films beautifully and elegantly interwoven with a play of light and colours take us right back to the movie magic as musicians and singers bring Hans’s masterworks to life.
The moments that stood out for me were the hidden gems. The Might of Rome brings its Leni Riefenstahl elegance and grandeur accompanied by images of Commodus’s arrival in Rome in Gladiator.
Nyah from Mission Impossible: II brings in all of its flamenco glory and is followed by another track – Injection – where the first real surprise of the night arrives. Lisa Gerrard is on stage! The artist lends her spectacular voice to the track as her image is projected on the rear screens, melted with colours red as fire.
During the course of the concert we are treated to other never-before-performed gems like Lost But Won from Rush – which sounds absolutely incredible live – and a new medley rendition of The Dark Knight trilogy soundtrack that takes us from the early melodies of Batman Begins right to the stomping drums and chants of The Dark Knight Rises.
The absolute highlight of the night? The one that struck me the most? An entire 20 minutes dedicated to revealing Hans’s sketchbook – as he calls it himself in an introductory video chat with director Ron Howard – for The Da Vinci Code. That played out as a long session of all the queues, choirs and violin strings that were taking shape in the composer’s mind before they became the fully defined soundtrack we all love. The moment was idyllic and seemed to never end. The imagery in the big displays behind the orchestra was spectacular. And it culminated in the amazing masterwork track Chevaliers de Sangreal.
Was there anything I didn’t quite like? Maybe.
If like me you have already seen his debut show Hans Zimmer Revlead and have witnessed the man perform live on stage, along with an outstanding group of some of the most skillful musicians on the planet, then you’ll remember the spectacular bombastic party nature of that performance.
None of that is here and when the orchestra of The World of Hans Zimmer tries to rip into tromps like The Battle from Gladiator and Pirates of the Caribbean you do feel like there is an energy missing.
Some of that energy from the debut show is carried over by the presence of Pedro Eustache, the polyhedric and multi-talented musician who brings with him a talent, a craziness and absolute joy as he launches into playing the flute, reed, woodwind and other instruments I cannot even name. An absolute mad genius that makes every appearance worth the admission price.
Aside from Pedro’s performance, The World of Hans Zimmer is a quiet, elegant and profound chamber music experience, a measured and wonderful companion to the amazing and wall-bashing Hans Zimmer Revealed.
The night concludes as we see the legendary composer sit at the piano in the huge displays, and the orchestra accompanies him – just as he was there with us – through a tear-jerking, magic rendition of Time from Inception.
The World of Hans Zimmer is a true gem and I recommend that every fan of the rockstar composer buys a ticket and gets in line for its next amazing performance.
Photo: Frank Embacher / The World of Hans Zimmer
The World of Hans Zimmer is at O2 Arena on 26th November 2019. For further information or to book visit here.
Watch the show’s behind the scenes here: