Hans Zimmer's concert in Gent, Belgium, on Oct 10, 2002, his first film music concert ever, was as much anticipated by his fans as criticized after by visitors. Probably both were right. A performance of the great Zimmer compositions by a huge (and real!) orchestra (the Flemish Radio Orchestra), a choir, several other musicians (drums, acoustic guitar, electric guitar), and Lisa Gerrard herself has the potential of an unforgettable mega event. However, because of various reasons, the result is not entirely satisfactory. For full reviews of the concert by visitors, who surely go over top at times, please see here. The official release features only 12 of 17 pieces actually performed. Omitted were tracks from “Crimson Tide”, “The Thin Red Line”, “Green Card”, “Gladiator”, and “Chicken Run”. The inofficial release this review is about contains all the pieces except “Green Card”. The recordings on both releases differ with respect to the mixing volume of the instruments and singers. The sound quality is somewhat inferior to the official release.
This release starts off with one of the highlights already: a very lively and inventive new rendition of the “Driving Miss Daisy” theme. This theme is very uplifting, enjoyable, and even groovy. The musicians really get into it. The drummer and the guitar players do their very best. Zimmer himself plays the piano, and I am very happy with the result (remember he is not considered a concert pianist). On German television (“Stern TV”, hosted by Günther Jauch), he claimed he played a really wrong chord during that performance, which he says was left in the release, but I must admit I still cannot hear a wrong chord from him.
“Rain Man” is a collection of the most beautiful passages of the score. Very well done as well! And nice to have a (partially) orchestral version of it now. Same goes for “Crimson Tide”, which is another excellent composition. Evil tongues might describe the orchestra's performance as clumsy, though. The presence of the drums reminds me of Erich Kunzel's interpretation. The hi-hats are mixed in too loud in my opinion. The long track ends with “Eternal father strong to save”.
“The Thin Red Line - Journey To The Line” is probably not suited best for a live performance by a real orchestra in general, and this piece in particular, it's also somewhat lenghty, but acceptable. “Light” from the same movie, however, is much better and should have been included in the official release instead.
I like the concert suite of Nine Months very much. In the original version, this is sugar-sweet (partially synthesized) music, sounding more classical with a live orchestra here. At the beginning, the string glissandos have been omitted, for some reason. Maybe they were too difficult to play for this orchestra? This suite is very well compiled, enjoyable, and performed very well, too. I certainly do not understand why Zimmer felt he had to justify on the concert playing this piece.
The performances of “Gladiator” are not much better than average only. They clearly demonstrate that you cannot expect studio quality from a live performance. Lisa Gerrard's vocals are not as polished as known from the original soundtrack, and she seems to have been forced to sing slower than usual. In the “Am I Not Merciful”, the orchestra acts quite slowly, too. In my opinion, a different, more lively part of the score should have been selected for the concert. The sections with the choir, where the performance becomes very dramatic, however, are excellent.
“True Romance” was performed well, but is kind of uninteresting. “Chicken Run” is an exciting cue. The music from “Mission: Impossible 2” is a joint effort of the orchestra and an acoustic guitar player (Heilor Pereira). Sounds quite Spanish and is very enjoyable.
“Thelma & Louise” is a rather average composition. I am surprised Zimmer chose this for his concert, considering that he himself said in an interview that there wasn't any good music in the film... However, this live performance is different from what we know from the promotional release. I felt reminded of Pink Floyd's “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” because of the broadness of the music and the electric guitar improvisations (played by Pete Haycock).
I do not exactly admire the African-sounding vocal compositions by Hans Zimmer, and I consider “Mother Africa” and “Bussa” the downside of this CD release. At least the audience was expecting film music.
This release is a worthwhile purchase if you are not a purist, expecting serious film music concerts as known from Jerry Goldsmith. A must for Zimmer fans, of course.