Featured Reviews

WiC goes to the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience—Our review

(Photo by Timothy Norris/Getty Images)

Last night, I was privileged to attend a performance of the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience at the United Center in Chicago. First, let’s state the obvious: if you’re a Game of Thrones fan and have the opportunity to go to this show, you should. Hearing Ramin Djawadi’s iconic score played with a full orchestra and choir is worth the price of admission by itself. After watching Game of Thrones for this long, just hearing songs like the Stark family theme, with its mournful strings, played by a stage full of musicians is enough to produce a swell of emotion. But when you hear it while towering images of Arya, Sansa, Bran, Jon Snow, and the rest are projected onto a massive screen overhanging the stage, it’s damn well enough to make you misty-eyed.

For some people, I assume. Certainly not me. *ahem*

HBO and Live Nation clearly spent a lot of money and time on this Experience, and it’s paid off. There are three stages (more like one massive stage divided into three parts, but you get the idea): two circular stages on each end, and a bridge-like one in the middle. Conductor Ramin Djawadi, the orchestra, and the choir mostly stay stationary on one of the far stages, filling the hall with music.

Soloists, both instrumentalists and vocalists, populate the other stages in strategic positions depending on the song. In a particularly memorable moment early in the show, a violinist ascends a dais on the stage opposite the one with Djawadi and the orchestra. A translucent sheet falls down around her, and the encircling video screens above bloom with images of red leaves. She’s playing from inside a weirwood tree. It’s beautiful.

Other particularly impressive moments include the renditions of “Dracarys” (aka when Daenerys sacks Astapor) and “Light of the Seven” (aka when Cersei blows up the Sept). During the climaxes of these numbers, fire spurts from the stage and the screen. (And yes, it’s green for the wildfire bits.) In fact, during “Light of the Seven,” fire explodes from the floor around the piano where Djawadi is playing. I felt the heat several rows back, and can’t imagine how hot it must have been for him. That’s dedication, and those kinds of pyrotechnics definitely lend drama to these moments.

Also, this has to be mentioned: during a song about the North, the production pumps fake snow into the air. It wafts down into the stands where some attendees ill-advisedly tried to catch it on their tongues. It’s paper. But still, the attention to detail is noted.

The crowd at the United Center was all in. Pretty much everybody there is a Game of Thrones fan, so they can be relied upon to gasp and shock during, say, the Redding Wedding section of the show. Having a room full of the faithful produces good vibes, something Djawadi and the soloists appreciated during hearty cheers following each number. At one point, a soloist came out in a flesh-colored dress to sing the song that plays during Cersei’s walk in “Mother’s Mercy.” The crowd erupted into a spontaneous chant of “Shame! Shame! Shame!” It was a fun atmosphere.

It must be said that some moments of the show were better than others because some songs are better than others. “Light of the Seven” is just a more exciting song than “Son of the Harpy,” so the “Light of the Seven” section is more entertaining. But there are no down moments of the show, and Djawadi is always trotting out an interesting new instrument or spotlighting an evocative new vocal. The time passes quickly.

Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate on the musicians because the temptation watch the clips is too strong. After the Live Concert Experience is over, HBO might want to think about just touring the country with episodes of the show. It’s a big show and fits on a big screen.

One of the more memorable moments occurs during performances of “Let’s Play a Game,” “Bastard,” and “Trust Each Other,” all songs that feature during the Battle of the Bastards. The scene where Jon tries to save Rickon plays without alteration, with the dialogue intact. The only difference is that the live orchestra is providing the score. It was like seeing the scene for the first time, complete with all the attendant anxiety.

The team lightens things up at the very end, though, with an encore-like performance of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair.” It’s good to send people out on a happy note.

The Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience runs a bit over two hours with an intermission. Based on the performance I saw, it’s a rousing success, and we can’t wait to see what Djawadi comes up with for season 7 (the show offered no new teases for the coming episodes, by the way, at least at the Chicago performance). Here’s hoping the rest of the rest of the tour is as much of a hit.

Here are the rest of the tour dates. If you go, I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I did!

  • 2/23: Columbus, OH – Nationwide Arena
  • 2/25: Uncasville, CT – Mohegan Sun
  • 2/26: Philadelphia, PA – Wells Fargo Center
  • 3/01: Washington, DC – Verizon Center
  • 3/03: Montreal, QC – Bell Centre
  • 3/04: Toronto, ON – Air Canada Centre
  • 3/06: Boston, MA – TD Bank Garden
  • 3/07: New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
  • 3/09: Charlotte, NC – Time Warner Cable Arena
  • 3/11: Ft. Lauderdale, FL – BB&T Center
  • 3/12: Tampa, FL – Amalie Arena
  • 3/14: Atlanta, GA – Philips Arena
  • 3/16: San Antonio, TX – AT&T Center
  • 3/17: Houston, TX – Toyota Center
  • 3/19: Denver, CO – Pepsi Center
  • 3/23: Los Angeles, CA – The Forum
  • 3/25: Las Vegas, NV – MGM Grand Garden Arena
  • 3/26: Phoenix, AZ – TalkingStick Resort Arena
  • 3/29: San Jose, CA – SAP Center
  • 3/31: Seattle, WA – Key Arena
  • 4/1: Vancouver, BC – Rogers Arena
  • 4/2: Portland, OR – Moda Center

33 Comments

  • I was there last night as well and it was an amazing show. You could tell that Ramin and crew were having a great time performing.

      • Anybody else wonder how Ramin and the musicians could have stood the blasts of heat from the fire? I was pretty well out and felt the heat. Wouldn’t it be hard to concentrate being that close to it?

      • la macchina della solidarietà e dei volontari in italia non si smentisce maisiamo grandi e lo dimostriamo in ogni ocaraionegcszie per i numeri, ho già dato ma darò ancoraperchè c’è molto da farela nostra sede avis ha già inviato la richiesta di donazione, im poco tempo avranno tutto il sangue che necessitaora serve darsi da fare, non a parole ma a fattiperchè possano queste persone trovare la voglia di ricominciare da zero.un abbraccioIrish Coffees last blog post..

  • I want here last night as well and it was the greatest concert experience of my life! It was so incredible, an unforgettable experience! Loved everything about it!! Ramin is a musical genius!! It would have been great to have a meet and greet beforehand with those of you from WiC! I love to talk GoT anything! It was an even better experience to share the night with fans who love GoT as much as we do! I wish everyone who loves GoT could have the opportunity to see this wonderful, amazing concert!

    • I think as long as you are up from the floor and not at the very far side-right or left-you will be good! If you were on the floor, it seemed like you would have to look up, which could be tiring on your neck! And if you were seated to far to the side, you could see the end screens, but not the big center screen. They did have smaller screens hanging that you could see, if you were seated too far to the side, of what was happening on the big center screen. But it was not like watching it on the BIG screen. So basically, up off the floor and in football terms, any seats between each 20 yard line?

    • I was seated pretty dead center in front of the main stage, and had no complaints. There’s activity on all of the stages and the video screens are really, truly huge, so I imagine you’ll get a good view no matter where you sit.

  • I’m glad you guys had a great time. Sunday can’t come fast enough for me!! You can tell how much Ramin cares about his score and Thrones in general, and that really does make a huge difference in quality. I hope that the tour is a massive success for the remaining tour dates, and that it goes international since there’s such a large fan-base outside of North America!

    And Dan, I’ve NEVER been able to listen to House Stark’s theme without getting teary-eyed. I absolutely love the score for BotB (Let’s Play A Game, etc) and it gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. So glad they did the battle justice for the concert, length-wise!

  • Wish it would come to Australia, Ramin’s music is just stunning on it’s own, but to experience it in that kind of atmosphere would be amazing. Jealous 😀

  • I was also there last night and I was with 3 people who had not seen the show. They were relatives of mine (2 were women) and while they loved the music, the constant scenes of violence convinced them that they did not want to see the show or read the books. And it is sad to say, the music is playing during all the battles and fights that we, who have watched the show have worked up to, in 3 or 4 episodes. I never thought to look at it this way so that was eye opening. I, was of course, cheering loudly but I knew why the violence was necessary.
    I also will say that technically, I had a house banner hanging in the middle of the middle screen during the first set when the house themes were playing. It blocked 1/4 -1/3 of the screen which was really frustrating. My only other beef was that when the audio of the scenes were played, the sound was very distorted which made it hard to understand what the actors were saying.
    I loved seeing the scenes on a BIG screen, and hearing the music. I still don’t understand why HBO has not taken some of the episodes and played them in the IMAX, like they did 2 years ago. People will come to see this!!! You didn’t mention it, but the date had been changed from the weekend to a Wednesday night. I am sure there would have been even more fans in attendance if it had been on the original date. I drove in from another state, but the date change would have made it hard for working fans to attend.

  • i tried listening to the excerpts on my computor but they kept stopping, Love the Music Love the Series Love the Books I have watch season 1 to season 6 a total of 16 times and books twice stating my 17 time of watching and my third time of reading books PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE KEEP MAKING MORE SERIES AND A PREQUEL. LESLEY YOUR BIGGEST FAN FROM DEVON ENGLAND I AM 73 YEARS OLD.

  • My wife and I attended the show at Mohegun Sun and it was amazing. The Orchestra, the featured musicians, and vocalist never missed a beat. The video montage on the big screen synced up perfectly and I even witnessed audience members get emotional during the show. It was very powerful. We sat at the side center (50 yrd line) of the arena directly in front of the large widescreen and I would recommend everyone else to get the same position if you can. 5 out of 5!

  • March 7 can’t come fast enough! I’m excited like a kid on Christmas Eve.

    I made the decision to go solo because I didn’t want to have another experience where I’m all into the show and the person beside me is ready to leave. Sounds like I did the right thing and will be surrounded by peeps who love GOT as much as I do.

Leave a Comment