Hans Zimmer at the Air Canada Centre

Photos by Joshua Chia

Hans Zimmer on tour is an intriguing and clever concept. A film composer who, by his own admission is used to sitting in a ‘windowless room’ coming out of his shell and making classical music accessible to those who normally wouldn’t explore the genre. A friend of mine saw Zimmer’s European tour in 2016, and said it was the best concert she had ever been to. I had high hopes for the night, and Zimmer et al. did not disappoint.

Zimmer appeared on stage in a tailcoat with a gaggle of musicians dressed mostly in black, sitting at his piano to begin. As the song progressed, the layering of instruments increased among his 15-strong band of guitarist, percussionists, one man woodwind section and strings. As the music swelled, the back curtain ascended to reveal an orchestra of brass and strings, much to the amazement and cheers of the audience. Zimmer greeted the crowd with a relaxed and conversational demeanour, introducing the score to Crimson Tide. Canadian drummer Satnam Ramgotra showcased some spectacular skills early on during the Crimson Tide medley, one of the few musicians not in black, but pale blue – perhaps a nod to the leafs stadium he was playing in. As the piece escalated, a second black curtain rose to reveal a 30 person choir at back of the tiered stage. The effect of rapidly revealing yet more of Zimmer’s musical entourage was spectacular.

The concert featured scores from Gladiator, The Lion King, Man of Steel, and Inception, with several of the arrangements prompting cheers of recognition from the audience. A particular highlight was the spectacular cello concerto at the start of the Pirates of the Caribbean medley that closed out the first half of the concert. Cellist Tina Guo was introduced with great respect from Zimmer, who has known several of his band since their childhood. The force and power of the Pirates score ramped up as the orchestra reached a crescendo before exiting the stage.

The lighting was used to great effect, emphasising sections of the orchestra as they played, especially the drummers during the Wonder Woman score, when the whole stage was dark aside from the particular drummer who was currently pounding the skins. The concert was closed with a heartfelt rendition of ‘Aurora’, a piece written by Zimmer in tribute to the families of the 2012 Aurora shooting.

The sheer force of having 50 plus musicians on stage made this a spectacle worth seeing, and the drafty, echo of this hockey stadium was filled the sound of expert musicians and the rapturous applause of the audience.

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