Saturday, June 19, 2010

Star Wars in Concert

I know it does not say much to be a Star Wars fan these days but I am one. I used to watch the movies over and over again on a worn out copy video taped from television. I know the characters, have read books in the extended universe and have played the video games. I would say I am an above average fan.

That being said, I am a geek for the music. I own the Original Soundtrack Anthology and can sing almost every note by heart from both the original and prequel films. I count them as one of my top five favorite soundtracks, probably top three. So I was lucky to have been paying attention when I saw that the touring Star Wars in Concert was coming to Austin and on my birthday. I bought myself a floor seat and had little expectations give it was in a basketball arena.
Boy was I surprised. First, there was an entire exhibit in the halls prior to the concert itself complete with costumes and props from the movies, picture taking opportunities with a live stormtrooper and R2D2, and the highlight, a copy of the original hand written score. I bought myself an R2D2 tote bag and went to sit and listen to the warm up.
While waiting, there were intermittent sound effects being played over the speakers: Darth Vader's breathing, Chewbacca's growl, a tie fighter fly by. And this was my first hint that the sound was going to be amazing. The orchestra complete with full choir were on a riser and the size was enormous since there are a large number of unique instruments needed for some of those eccentric sounds of Star Wars. Surrounding the orchestra were, what I imagine, speakers on stands but they had bright circular lights which we learned later could change color and added an impressive effect to the show. The high definition LED screen was centered above the orchestra in such a way that there was no bad seat. I have since read it is the size of an IMAX screen and built especially for the touring concert.

The opening was perfect starting with the "20th Century Fox" theme and the "Main Titles" as every Star Wars film does. We are introduced to Anthony Daniels, who played C3PO and was the narrator of the even. He was perfect, expressing the exact dramatic tone and joking about the intelligence of Threepio and his impact on the saga. The first half contained the main themes and also music from the prequels and though the prequel films are less stellar than the original films, the music is definitely a strong rival. While the music plays, images and sometimes full scenes from the movies are played on the screen, sometimes with dialog but most of the time without. I have to say, I am a sucker for the slow motion image combined with the sweeping orchestral score. Needless to say, this concert made my heart swell. The second half contained mostly the original film music and added a laser show. The lights, the film images on the huge screen, and above all, the sound. For an arena that was not built for sound, I felt like I was in a theater with THX. I could hear all the instruments perfectly and there was no distortion or high timbre echo. It was without a doubt, amazing and completely made my birthday.

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