Monday 11 October 2010


A couple of weeks ago I saw The Lord Of The Rings Colon The Return Of The King at the Royal Albert Hall, where Howard Shore's phenomenal score was performed live by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. I've said it before but I'm old so I can get away with repeating myself: there really is nothing like listening to a bastard massive orchestra banging out a brilliant film score in a venue as awesome as the Albert Hall. And I never use the word "awesome" unless I actually mean it.
Unfortunately it's very difficult to concentrate on watching an orchestra when a solid 9 out of 10 film is playing behind them. Even if you've seen it a dozen times you can't help but get sucked in to the world Peter Jackson created (yes, I'm aware that Tolkien literally created it, but Jackson made it visually astonishing), and with the music complementing the pictures so perfectly it's easy to forget the orchestra are there.

So you start to watch the orchestra, boggling at the skill that goes into playing the harp, watching the violinists' bows dancing back and forth in almost inhuman synchronisation and wishing you could have a go at whacking that massive drum, and before you know it you've missed the entire battle of Osgiliath, and you can't rewind the DVD because the orchestra would lose their place and the rest of the audience would grumble under their breath at you.

All of which makes the entire evening a bit frustrating. I felt like I'd gone to see two separate events at the same time in the same place and I didn't know which one I should be paying more attention to. Not only that, but because the music was so loud, the film played with subtitles, which was quite distracting. I don't know if it's just me but if there are subtitles I can't help but read them. It's like I might be missing something important so I have to take them all in, which inevitably means missing something important further up the screen.

Still, mustn't grumble. It was a fun evening and if they do it again you should go and tell me how wrong I am.

Incidentally, this is happening soon, also at the Albert Hall:
I saw this very event at Leeds Castle a few years ago and I can heartily recommend that you stay as far away from it as possible unless you have no idea about or love for the music of the Bond films. Basically, a man and a woman take it in turns to sing the theme songs as if they're performing Rigoletto at the Royal Opera House, completely failing to understand what it is that makes a pop song great, and towards the end the bloke actually pulls a fake gun from a shoulder holster and waves it about while murdering The Living Daylights or something. You would be far better off staying at home and listening to, say, this. Or this.

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  1. It's a 5/10 film tops for me. Was impressed by band though. Amazing brass...

  2. BOND: Do you expect me to talk?

    GOLDFINGER: No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to listen in the Albert Hall.

  3. What you say Leeds me to conclude it is much easier to run Rings round the Albert Hall audienc than Bond with a castle congregation.

    Maybe the best place to listen to movie music is in a cinema. Maybe, like Bang Bang at the start of Kill Bill vol 1 or Blue Velvet in Blue Velvet a regular single can sound even better when part of a film sound track.

  4. Probably would have been better without the movie showing, or if they just had a montage of LOTR shots. Still wonderdul to hear it live though. I love the LOTR soundtrack, it's so varied.

  5. I went to this too and had a truly spiffing nite, even if Mr IS found it frustrating. Ability to multi task and all that :)

  6. Well aren't you just the clever yet unloved-by-Aragorn one?