Concert Review: Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience, October 14, Scotiabank Arena

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It’s safe to say that Ramin Djawadi is one of the more popular and in demand composers working in film and television these days. He’s done the scores for such notable works as Westworld, Person of Interest, Prison Break, Pacific Rim and a little show you may have heard of called Game of Thrones. Certainly one of the most popular and acclaimed television series of recent years, Game of Thrones is beloved enough by fans to earn its own concert tour, which features Djawadi himself leading a live orchestra in bringing the music of Westeros to life. So yeah, it’s a pretty big deal.

But here’s the thing – I’ve never seen the show. I have nothing against it per se, but the show never really grabbed my attention, even though some people whose opinions I trust have vouched for it. Despite never having watched, when the tour made it’s way back to Toronto on the current leg of its North American tour, it got me wondering – would the music and the accompanying live show hold up for someone like me who’s not a fan and mostly only knows GOT by its reputation as a show full of dragons, boobs, and Peter Dinklage? On Sunday night, I aimed to find out.

As I made my way over to the recently rechristened Scotiabank Arena, there was a definite chill in the air – a sure sign that winter is coming. I gather that that’s a phrase people on the show often like to say, though of course, not having seen the show, I can only speculate as to why they say it. I presume its because the people of Westeros really enjoy making small talk about the weather in between all the murder and incest, which are also things I understand they do a lot of on this show.

Walking into the arena, you could tell that the fans were pumped for what was to come, although personally, I was a little let down that everyone looked disappointingly normal. I was really hoping to catch a few folks all decked out in cosplay like they were at Comic Con or something. I bet if this was a Doctor Who or Star Trek event, more people would have dressed up. There were, however, plenty of options for photo ops avialable, including a throne for people to sit on and some sort of green screen thing I saw people lining up for, so there was at least a little of that Comic Con vibe. There was also a signature cocktail on sale at the bar for the night – The Night’s Watch, a curious concoction made up of of peach vodka, spiced rum, pomegranate, pineapple and orange juice, which all seemed just a bit too ambitiously tropical in flavour to really fit thematically with the part of the series which takes place in frozen wastelands … that’s right, I looked it up. But again, I’ve never actually seen the show, so maybe the members of the Night’s Watch are all big fans of fruity beverages. I mean, who isn’t from time to time?

The show itself opened up with a prerecorded message to all of the “lords and ladies” in attendance from presumably one of the female stars of the show, probably one of the ones who played Sarah Connor (I’m guessing it was Sarah Connor from The Sarah Connor Chronicles rather than the Sarah Connor from Terminator: Genisys), telling us all to silence our phones and warning that those who disobeyed this order would be “boiled alive in their own blood” or something to that effect. OK, so far so good … you have my attention, Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience. From there, the band launched into the show’s main title theme, followed by Djawadi addressing the crowd to let us know how happy they were to be playing Toronto on the final night of their current North American tour and that they wanted it to be a good one. “So if you see a favourite character or villain or favourite scene let us know,” he said. And they did, with the crowd cheering for practically every character.

So how was the show for a Game of Thrones illiterate like myself? I have to admit, it was a fun show and the music does hold up even if you don’t know the program. For the performance, Djawadi (who conducted as well as played the hammer dulcimer, keyboards, and electric guitar at a few key points during the show) was joined by a group of touring musicians, all of whom were dressed up like they just stepped off the set of the show, as well as a local orchestra and choir backing them all up. Djawadi, however, just wore a regular suit. Again, I’m a little disappointed he didn’t go full Comic Con, but I understand … I guess.

With its big, epic, stirring sounds, the music was all very evocative of a certain mood and together with clips from the show up on the big screen, it was easy to get swept up in it all, even for a novice – it definitely piqued my interest and made me want to watch the show even though I’m absolutely spoiled all to hell for probably every important/cool moment in the series. While I’m still unclear on some of the finer plot points, it did serve as a decent crash course in GOT and the show and its music are certainly better suited to a massive live concert spectacle than say, Djawadi’s work on Westworld. And it certainly was something of a spectacle – if ever I do get around to watching the whole series, it will be a bit less impressive to not have live percussionists and pyro erupting all over the place every time the dragons breathe fire.

And on a final note, I’m happy to report that as I was leaving the venue I did finally spot a couple decked out in full GOT cosplay so in the end, I guess I got everything I ever really wanted out of this show. Mission accomplished.

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Posted on by Paul in Concerts

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