When you receive the news that a monographic concert of Brian Tyler will be performed in London, and you see that Brian Tyler himself will conduct the orchestra, and that it is with the Philharmonia Orchestra, with which he has recorded several of his recent soundtracks (Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultron) there is only one thing to do … run and buy concert tickets and book flights to London as soon as possible!
There is nothing better than a composer conducting his own work, and if it’s with an orchestra with which he usually works and that has recorded several of his recent greatest hits, that’s even better!
The idea of the concert comes in 2015, a year ago, while Avengers: Age of Ultron was being recorded at Abbey Road Studios, when during one of the recording sessions someone says “hey, this has to sound great in a concert room” and another person responds “why don’t we give it a try?”
And so, from that innocent phrase to the present day, it has been a long process of first ideas, further development of the concept, and hard work of a large group of people, to give birth to the concert that I will discuss in this article, held at the Royal Festival Hall in London on Saturday, May 7th, 2016, entitled “Brian Tyler Live: Music for Film Stars, Cars & Superheroes”.
The concert began on time at 7:30pm and Brian Tyler was greeted in the room with a great applause, by an audience eager to enjoy his music.
The Royal Festival Hall was full, from the first rows to the last place of the amphitheater. Beware! avoid the first row, because amplification of the music through speakers located there, make you lose the experience of enjoying music as it is interpreted by the orchestra.
The opening theme of the concert was from the movie Thor: The Dark World, where you could see the strength and energy that would prevail throughout the entire performance, both from the Philharmonia Orchestra and from the Royal Society Choir. A brief and intense theme, a “Main Titles” but not only from a film, also from what we could expect from the rest of the concert, with Brian Tyler fully committed, swiftly moving the baton to give precise instructions to the orchestra. With rhythm, intensity and relentlessly.
Following, a more relaxed and accomplice piece came from Now You See Me, which was brilliantly performed, giving way to one of those themes that make you move in your chair, the main theme of Iron Man 3 (and that many of us would have liked to be complemented along the concert with the fabulous and humorous ending theme song “Can you Dig it”, although it didn’t happen).
The atmosphere was already heated, the public devoted, and it was at this time that Brian Tyler, who is a composer covering all genres, gave way to a piece composed for the game Far Cry 3, demonstrating his versatility and offering a fabulous interpretation from the choir.
During the concert, Brian Tyler was using the microphone to give some explanations and tell stories, and being the next piece the music he composed for Star Trek: Enterprise TV series, he explained how he got the call to compose music for the Star Trek: Enterprise TV series, heir of the original Star Trek, that he saw when he was young, and how he agreed without hesitation, but with a condition: to visit the film set and be able to sit in the captain’s chair.
After a few strong themes, came a moment to pause, with an introverted and sensitive music composed for the film Partition, moving after to another anecdote, in which Marvel managers comment to Brian Tyler that they don’t have a main theme for the initials credits of each film, and the composer offered to “try” to do something, composing the great Marvel Studios Fanfare we hear afterwards in its long concert version.
And now, the time to do something different and break the dynamics of the concert arrives, giving way on stage to the singer Tori Letzler, to put voice to the imaginary language Fremen of the theme Inama Nushif (which translates as “she’s eternal”) from the music of the television mini-series Children of Dune. Great and passionate interpretation by the singer, and a very curious anecdote the composer tells about how he wrote the whole theme, both music and lyrics, using references of the phrases he took from the books of Dune, that he read when he was young and liked so much.
Continuing with Children of Dune, the incredibly evocative theme Summon the Worms was played next, perfectly performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra and directed with enthusiasm and dedication by the composer.
Following, the main theme of Constantine was played, adequate but somewhat weak compared with other pieces of the first part of the concert, and it gave way to the music of The Greatest Game Ever Played, that filled the room with color.
Almost completing the first part of the concert, a theme that everyone was waiting for was played, the main theme of The Fast and the Furious franchise, that the composer introduced noting that the drums were the first thing he composed for this theme, the rhythm that had to bear the weight of the action, on which other musical layers were added later. Pure adrenaline, going through our ears.
And approaching almost one hour of the concert, first part ended with the main theme of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a regular film, but with a high-quality soundtrack a central theme full of adventure and dynamism, that made us jump in the seats and reach the intermission wanting more.
After a break of 25 minutes, shortly before 9 pm, the second part of the concert began. The first theme was an exclusive suite of the film Now You See Me 2, which premieres this summer, and as could be heard, it respected the structure and harmonies of the original theme, but providing differentiated melodic treatments.
Before moving on to the next piece, Brian Tyler told the audience that he has a friend who often pranks him by phone, and one day he received an alleged call from Sylvester Stallone, but with a forced and unnatural accent, so he immediately hung up the phone thinking it was another joke of his friend.
A few minutes later, he received a call from his agent, asking why he had hung the phone to Sylvester Stallone! After calling back apologizing, they had a very friendly and natural talk, and that’s how a long friendship with Sylvester Stallone began, which led to joining the franchise The Expendables, from which we just listened to the main theme.
In the next piece, Tori Letzler reappeared on stage to sing Into Eternity from Thor: The Dark World, a theme with great emotion, which received again a great applause from the audience.
Then the first chords of the music for Transformers: Prime TV series were played, with strength and determination, moving later to another special moment of the night. The singer Yael Cohen Shoshana from Lola Marsh indie rock group took the stage and stole the attention of the audience with her performance of Drift and Fall Again. A voice soft and fragile in appearance, but with a deep and harrowing background, looking directly to the public into the eyes with each verse. Keith Power, Brian Tyler’s collaborator and co-composer of the soundtrack of this film, stood to share the huge applause the singer received at the end.
The next moment of the concert was a pleasant and expected surprise by the public, as Brian Tyler left the composer’s place, to go to the drums that were on the right side of the stage, to play the rhythmic base for the main theme of the video game Call of Duty MW3, while supervising and marking the tempo to the orchestra that was following his steps. We missed a close-up of the composer playing the drums on the big screen that was over the stage (that screen was only used during the concert to show the titles of the themes that were going to be played).
Returning to Marvel, the orchestra performed a suite of the music of Avengers: Age of Ultron, which they knew so well, because they recorded the soundtrack last year at Abbey Road Studios. This music has meant one of the 3 BMI Film / TV Awards that Brian Tyler has received this week in Los Angeles (the other two being for Hawaii Five-0 and Scorpion TV series).
The concert continued with the main theme of Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem, exquisitely played by the brass section of the orchestra, that already had a pre-warning and an apology from the composer before starting, as the technical complexity and effort needed were quite big.
Nearing the end of this second part, and with the microphone in hand, Brian Tyler wanted to say that for him, as for many others, John Williams had been a great source of inspiration, and he dedicated him the next piece, Tribute to John Williams – Superman March. One of the best performances I have ever heard of the Superman theme, with a flawless and perfect brass section, both in pitch and tempo, not a single sound out of place. A very exciting moment.
And then, mentioning again his collaborator and composer Keith Power, the arrangement they made for the main theme of the television series Hawaii Five-0 was played, a TV series that has Keith currently in charge of the music, and who has received a BMI Award this week for this work.
And to finish this magnificent evening, a theme little-known outside the United States was played, a theme reminiscent of the great and evocative songs composed by John Williams for NBC (The Mission) or the Olympics in Los Angeles 1984 (Olympic Fanfare), the great Triumph of the Spirit (Us Open Theme), that Brian Tyler composed in 2015 for the US Open (Golf) and that was widely used by Fox TV during the coverage of the event.
At the end of this second part, the audience stood and corresponded with a huge and long applause to the extensive and intense concert we just enjoyed, having the composer to come back on stage up to 6 times to receive the cheers and affection of the attendees, that were waiting for an encore that didn’t come.
Brian Tyler has proven to be an all-terrain composer, both with his music for action films, as with his music for dramatic films, or television series and video games. He easily composes for all genres, and throughout the concert, he has managed to give a huge recap to all the greatest hits of his career, with a total of 24 pieces played, pleasing undoubtedly his most demanding fans. Brief but intense and direct pieces, without long suites, without prefaces or waitings.
In this way, we enjoyed a vibrant concert, full of energy, speed, rhythm, and with a Brian Tyler committed conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra, which he knows very well, and that has given all their heart in this one and only representation, tucked by the great voices of the Royal Choral Society.
We went to enjoy a concert that promised to be something special, but ultimately turned out to be something fabulous and unique.
We hope that in the not too distant future, we have the opportunity to enjoy again a similar concert, and to make the waiting time more enjoyable until then … how about a DVD / BluRay / CD edition of the concert?
Article by Gorka Oteiza