This week I attended the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience. At least I think that’s the official name for it. Stadium acoustics aside (it was in the arena where they often host hockey matches), it’s an amazing touring event led by Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi, who serves as the evening’s conductor, musician, and host. The orchestra that played was a local one, which was a nice touch for this particular show of a touring performance.
In the center of the arena were two circular stages — one hosting the orchestra, the other a platform for soloists — connected by a walkway. Above this were large screens that showed clips from the show while the orchestra and special musicians played below. Above the circular platforms, the screens were also round so all of the stadium could see, and sometimes they were lowered while the soloist on the small platform was raised higher. It made for a spectacular display.
From the moment the opening credits started rolling on those big screens, with the orchestra playing the theme song live, I knew this was going to be something really different. It’s not so much a concert as a show, and while the music is a huge presence, it’s the overall presentation that makes it so memorable.
Some songs followed themes or storylines, such as the romance between Jon and Ygritte, the White Walker presence, or Dany’s time as a young Khaleesi. Other songs played while entire scenes from the HBO series played out onscreen. (Like, I had to relive the Red Wedding.)
The songs with the most impact were those where the live music had as much stage presence as the scenes from the show playing on the screens. Obviously, the score of HBO’s Game of Thrones is beautiful throughout — but what made a showpiece here really special was when I could watch and listen to the musical act as it took center stage. My favorite was watching dummers play a theme for Daenerys. Other special acts were singers performing solos; watching an enthusiastic musician play some haunting didgeridoo to go along with White Walker footage; and, toward the end, watching composer Djawadi himself step away from the orchestra to play an instrument, as he did with Arya’s theme.
As the performance went on I realized I had never watched the HBO show with a big audience before. It felt very different than watching at home, because I could hear the audience around me react to some of the big moments. It was especially fun to hear them shout in favor of Dany (a lot of guys seem to be in love with her) or boo Ramsay. At the start of the show, each character gets an introduction onscreen, and the characters who got the biggest applause were Daenerys, Jon Snow, Tyrion… and also the Viper.
The whole show led up to two epic songs and scenes that were shown at great length while the orchestra played accompaniment: the Battle of the Bastards and the scene of the sept being destroyed in the final episode of season six. While the latter has the most beautiful song in the show (in my opinion), I think the Battle of the Bastards was the best-received because that action scene is so amazing to watch.
I really enjoyed my time at the show and highly recommend seeing it if it’s coming to your town! The presentation is perfect, without a bad seat in the house. I’d say acoustics are the weakest point of the show, but that’s the fault of the venues; the music is still beautiful. If you enjoy Game of Thrones and want to experience it with a large audience, this is a unique experience for reliving the special parts of the HBO show. And I’m sure I’ll notice all of the characters’ different themes now that I’ve heard them separated out and played live in such a memorable way.