There is something exceptional about seeing one of your favorite artists perform live. All of a sudden, what you passively listen to while you study comes to life, becoming a full-bodied experience that transcends auditive sensations. Hence, there is a lot to live up to if the main pitch of your concert is bringing a “Live Experience” to an audience, in this case, the fans of the most popular show on earth, Game of Thrones. That Ramin Djawadi pulls this off effortlessly, speaks volumes to his talents as an artist and his commitment to always meet and exceed expectations. The Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience Tour demonstrates once again why concerts are so often one-of-a-kind, delivering an unforgettable experience that delectably immerses the audience into the world of Westeros.
Djawadi, a well-known TV and film composer, rose to prominence back in 2007 after composing the soundtrack for Prison Break, which earned him his first Emmy nomination. He joined the Game of Thrones team when it first premiered in 2011, going on to score the subsequent seven seasons of the show for which he has received significant critical acclaim. He has also composed the scores for Westworld (2016-), Person of Interest (2012-2016) and A Wrinkle in Time (2018). This is the second time he has gone on tour with the Game of Thrones crew, after the commercial success of his 2016 tour of the same name.
As last time, the concert begins with an impressive prologue that previews the outstanding spectacle to follow. Soon after, the equally iconic themes of the central Westerosi houses are presented. The audience’s excitement was palpable as fans emphatically applauded, screamed, or booed depending on their preferences. Unsurprisingly, the Starks and Targaryens received most of the praise, while the Lannisters got deliciously hissed. Hearing fans yell out the houses’ mottos was just the cherry on top.
After that hair-raising introduction, the show changes format and starts presenting the leitmotifs that defined major characters’ arcs, and memorable scenes or storylines. Among the standouts, there is Djawadi’s beautiful rendition of “Needle,” Arya’s theme. With a resonant xylophone at its core, the song initially combines soothing tunes creating a sense of wonderment and puerile curiosity before becoming the hymn of a badass. There is also the haunting “Rains of Castamere,” performed with heart and soul by the main vocalist, establishing a foreboding atmosphere that demands respect, just the way the Lannisters would like it. Ned Stark’s theme, “Goodbye Brother,” is also gloomily performed by the lead violinist, creating a melancholically nostalgic mood. Furthermore, with the use of a long flute, Daenerys’ strength and Melisandre’s mystery have never felt more real, while the heart-pounding, combined rendition of “Hardhome” and “Hold the Door” puts the evil White Walkers center stage, emphasizing their cold ruthlessness and lack of heart.
There are two unquestionable masterpieces, however, that Djawadi masterfully brings to life in this two and a half hour show: “Truth,” Jon and Daenerys’ theme, and “the Light of the Seven,” the background theme employed during the explosion at the Sept of Baelor. While fans are still divided on how to feel about the pairing of Ice and Fire, or more precisely Fire and Fire, there is no denying that Djawadi has concocted a tune for the ages. With a deeply moving violin at its core, the song manages to be both simple and monumental, capturing the nuanced array of emotions both characters go through as their relationship develops, starting slow and suggestive and ending with ominous bang. No wonder Djawadi won his long overdue Emmy for composing the music of the Season Seven finale, where “Truth” was fully fledged at last.
The biggest bang, though, comes undoubtedly from my personal favorite, “The Light of the Seven.” The orchestration, combining somber strings and a portentous piano, starts as if setting the stage for a game of chess, with each of the main players cunningly defining their strategy. As the peons begin to fall one by one, the tempo gradually increases and the tension becomes unbearable and exhilarating in equal measure. Once Cersei’s master plan is revealed, the song arrives to a climactic release, a magnus opus of confounding keys that blend into a synesthetic apotheosis.
The concert ends with a recap of the chilling final scene of Season Seven, as the White Walkers, with the help of Viserion, finally destroy the Wall and start making their way south. The blending of the quietly melodic “Winter is Here” and the blood-curdling “Army of the Dead” aptly closes this chapter of Game of Thrones music, teasing just enough to make fans excited of what is to come.
The Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience Tour is a treat for fans of the show and music aficionados alike. Accompanied by hypnotic visuals, incredible set designs, and thrilling footage, the concert lives up to its name and then some, making for a more than worthy experience before Winter comes one last time. Let the great game begin.