Playing at the Royal Festival Hall in London, this was a special occasion as Brian Tyler himself was there to conduct the Philarmonia orchestra. For a fan this was a dream come true; to not only listen to his wonderful music but to also have him conduct it in front of you. I'd previously looked at his YouTube page where you can see some footage of him not only playing but also conducting during the recording process, but these videos did not prepare me for the sheer force that Tyler used to get the absolute best out of the whole orchestra and choir.
Wearing his usual black t-shirt, his hair in his trademark quiff, he opened the show with the theme from Thor: The Dark World and immediately the full auditorium was drawn in. Tyler is amazing to watch as a conductor and is quite unlike anyone I’ve seen before. He's part-rock star, part-conductor, and part-athlete in his energetic and frenetic style, like a guitarist showing all they’ve got. This is Tyler’s way, and boy, what a way.
He moved swiftly through Now You See Me and Iron Man 3 before reaching Far Cry 3, which featured a beautiful solo violin from orchestra leader Stephanie Gonley. From there Tyler boldly went into a personal favourite of mine, 'Partition' from Star Trek: Enterprise. Incidentally, Tyler himself clearly loved this score when introducing it, although not every piece was given an introduction. But there were various anecdotes along the way, interspersed with Tyler mopping his face with a towel (conducting is hard work!).
Next came something that I had not heard before: A full suite based on the Marvel Studios Logo, as debuted in Thor: The Dark World. This was brilliant and built on the ideas of the 30 second fanfare, and could easily have been a superhero theme on its own. Next came the fantastic music from the television series Children of Dune, with the theme played along with the song 'Inama Nushif', featuring the vocal talents of Tori Letzler, who is not only gorgeous but has a mesmerising voice. Music from Constantine and The Greatest Game Ever Played featured next and it was nice to see some of the lesser known works getting a dusting off. Pieces like The Greatest Game gave rise to the orchestra playing a bit softer with more romanticism, probably helping to give the much-worked brass section a well-earned rest.
This wasn't for long however, as Tyler quickly launched into Fast & Furious and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, followed by a new piece in the form of the theme from the forthcoming Now You See Me 2 as well as The Expendables. Tori Letzler returned for the hauntingly beautiful 'Into Eternity' from Thor: The Dark World, which was followed by his music for TV series Transformers Prime before another special guest was introduced. Tyler currently has a score in the cinemas for the film Criminal, and featured on the soundtrack is a song entitled 'Drift and Fall Again', sung by Lola Marsh. Tyler conducted an orchestral version of the song with Lola Marsh singing, and while it was enjoyable Lola Marsh’s vocals are not in the same league as Letzler's, and on a personal level I don’t think much to the song (released under Tyler’s pseudonym Madsonik).
We were then treated to the sticks of Tyler as he took to the drums and played on music from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. and while I couldn't see him it sounded awesome. Quickly going back to the baton with Avengers: Age of Ultron (not the Elfman material), there was a brief break to give the brass a rest before the difficult sounding Aliens vs Predator: Requiem. Tyler has always had a sense of the old fashioned in his scores and has often cited John Williams as a huge impact on his life and work, thus it was that he chose to showcase his love in the form of the 'Main Title March' from Superman, which the orchestra performed superbly. It is credit to Tyler’s writing that this piece did not feel out of place and in fact it fit in with the mood of the evening very well and was great to hear it performed live again. There was then a rousing rendition of Hawaii Five-O to complete the ‘covers’ section.
The final piece of the evening was another new one - 'Triumph of Spirit' from the US Open Golf Tournament. This is a truly great piece with a fine theme and brilliant orchestration, and it was the perfect way to end of the evening. The audience (which included Brian’s parents and Tom Cruise) completely agreed, giving the composer and conductor six continuous standing ovations that were richly deserved. It was a privilege to listen to Tyler’s music live and even better to see him conduct. Hopefully this will be the start of more concerts from the composer, whether here in the UK or elsewhere, and it was nice that so much music was left unperformed meaning that some of my other favourites such as Frailty, Timeline, or Rambo could be performed.
It was an evening that in the end felt like a greatest hits concert (most of the music was main themes) with a few B-sides thrown in for good measure, but the best compliment comes from my wife. She doesn't watch Marvel Films and moans when I play scores from films, so I thought it might not have been the most suitable night out. However she turned to me after just the first piece and whispered “This is amazing!” Well done Brian Tyler.