After joining Michael Giacchino for his outstanding 50th birthday celebrations, already two years ago and also at the Royal Albert Hall, we headed back on Friday night for a whole new adventure as Giacchino and David Arnold went head-to-head in a symphonic battle to the death, well, to a standing ovation from the entire hall, preceded by an evening of film and television scores, composed by two of the finest composers in the business right now.
Set up in the rouse of Settling the Score, and staging the night as a battle of the greats, Giacchino and Arnold were ‘displayed’ on two standees at the front of the stage showing off their muscles. While, in truth, it was their heads superimposed onto some random bodies (we have to assume), it put in a place the type of comedy we’d experience for the new few hours and it was perfectly balanced with music packed full with heart, soul, love, sadness, drama and glorious escapism.
So while the entertainingly dry comedy was never far away, the evening was added to with super guests, who got involved with the silliness in-between the scores. Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow, Cloverfield and The Batman director Matt Reeves, the legendary Neil Gaiman, talented actor/mimic Lewis Macleod (who gave us the only versions of Boris and Trump we’d want near us), plus the mighty Godzilla (kind of) and Princess Leia (or David Arnold, allegedly) all turned up on stage and, let us promise you folks, this was one hell of an entertaining evening.
Leading the way, by playing and performing the scores, were the always impressive Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, led by conductor Gavin Greenaway, who himself has conducted movie scores for Gladiator, The Dark Knight Rises, Dunkirk to name just a few. This talented ensemble of musicians were the focus of attention, as there was no big screen for this event (something I thought was a great decision) and so all your attention was diverted to those who deserved it the most and, my, they brought everything to life.
Kicking off the evening with Arnold’s Bond theme ‘Come in 007 Your Time is Up‘ from The World is Not Enough, this set the bar high with a tremendous piece that hits its own originality but also fully celebrates that classic Bond theme we all know and love so much. From there, we delved in Giacchino’s The Incredibles 2 theme, in which I know find it hard not to always picture Jack-Jack fighting a raccoon and then the big monsters of the movie world were celebrated with Arnold’s Godzilla theme from ’98 and Giacchino’s Roar! From Cloverfield, with the latter piece of music being something I’ve listening to a lot from a film I adore.
It’s also important to mention that the evening was split into ’rounds’ of sorts, so while each score did follow the other, they were also broken up with amusingly bad Godzilla costumes, visits from the aforementioned directors Trevorrow and Reeves, plus it was coupled with friendly jibes from Arnold and Giacchino at each other. Everything was done with a feel-good spirit and Matt Reeves even proposed to Giacchino and asked him to score the upcoming The Batman, which meant we all witnessed a world exclusive!
Also, as a reminder, both composers/artists had equal billing throughout the night, so we heard the Sherlock and Doctor Strange theme in all their resplendence, watched the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra give a Royal Albert Hall-worthy performance of every piece and saw the dedication of every musician. There was also space for Arnold’s London 2012 medal ceremony music, Giacchino’s special 60th Anniversary of NASA piece, Stargate, Rogue One, You Know My Name (from Casino Royale – another second Bond adventure for me this year!), the new Star Trek themes, Arnold’s world famous Independence Day theme and – sorry, we’re not done yet – the live UK Premiere of Spider-Man: Far from Home and the World Premiere of the Good Omens (Critical Popcorn’s second Good Omens Premiere of the year!) theme, that both sounded as huge as you’d expect them to.
Make no mistake, the Royal Albert Hall hosted another very special evening. Somehow, it filled the Hall but also kept the intimacy of the music, so you felt like you were sitting in the studio, watching the music form and therefore like you’re a part of the film-making process itself. A tremendous, witty, rhapsodic night that was celebrated by a standing ovation that was more than deserved… same again next year, guys?
David Arnold and Michael Giacchino: Settling the Score took place at the Royal Albert Hall on 18th October.
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