The Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience is a triumph on every level

Music is Coming Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience

I was fortunate enough to get tickets to the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience way back in September. Consequently, I spent the better part of six months building up impossible expectations for the event in my head. By the time I made it to my seat at the United Center in Chicago last night, my heart was racing and my stomach was in knots.

I am very pleased to say that Ramin Djawadi did not disappoint.

Rest assured, the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience is every bit as extraordinary as the online promos presented it to be.

Djawadi and his crew of around 65 players take the audience on a comprehensive musical tour of Game of Thrones‘ six harrowing seasons.

The musical selections alternate between score pieces that correlate to specific scenes, which are then played in their entirety on the video wall (most cruelly, the Red Wedding and Hodor and Rickon’s deaths) and musical suites tracking characters’ development from seasons 1 – 6.

Each piece of music is accompanied by a visual element, be it on the video wall or on the stage. This not only lends a sense of spectacle to the concert but adds an emotional context to the music (in case anyone had forgotten). For example, as “Goodbye Brother” is performed, a weirwood tree comprised of red leaves on the video wall and a gauze curtain envelops the violin soloist.

Other highlights include:

  • A musical suite featuring the themes for houses Stark, Lannister, Greyjoy, Targaryen, Martell, Bolton and Tyrell
  • “What Is Dead May Never Die” sprinkled with bits of “Feed The Hounds” (I’m obviously biased, here, but it was the only piece dedicated solely to the Greyjoy theme and getting to hear it played by a live orchestra was amazing)
  • A new arrangement of “The Rains of Castamere” featuring soloist, Stephanie Alexander
  • Propane flames during “Reign”
  • Strobe spotlights revealing singers in Harpy masks standing in the audience during “Sons of the Harpy” (… get it?)
  • “Light of the Seven” featuring Djawadi on the piano (which transforms on stage into an organ) and green propane flames.
  • “The Winds of Winter” performed by a full orchestra and choir (with more propane flames) … there are no words.
  • The concert concluding with a jolly rendition of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” while dead characters are listed on the video wall.

Though having an appreciation for Game of Thrones and Djawadi’s score will likely enhance your enjoyment of the show, I wouldn’t say previous exposure to the material is absolutely necessary in order to have a good time.

In his opening address, Djawadi asked audience members who hadn’t watched the show to raise their hands and a surprising number of arms (presumably belonging to friends who had been dragged along) shot up into the air. The clips played on the video wall provide enough context to understand the emotional significance of the score pieces and the live performances and other visual elements are more than enough to keep any audience member engrossed. So, if you’re planning on attending a performance but you’re concerned your non-Game of Thrones fan friend will get bored, I wouldn’t worry about it. Simply put, I cannot recommend the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience enough.

57 responses

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    1. I had commented about seeing a few Youtube videos from the St. Paul performance… I do wish now that I’d made more effort to be able to go…

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    2. I was also there last night and the entire event was nothing short of stunning.

      The talent that Djawadi and his team showcased was incredible!

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    3. I can’t wait!!! I’m going to the show in Portland (the last one!) on April 2 with my daughter, who moved there in August, and one of her best friends, who’s flying out from Tucson. Thank you for the review!

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    4. Thank you, Petra, for the detailed presentation of the concert and for the video. It means a lot for someone who, separated by an ocean, couldn’t attend this amazing event.

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    5. I was able to go the concert last night at the United Center as well and loved everything about it!! What an incredible, amazing concert experience Ramin, HBO and Live Nation has put together for their fans!! I was so lucky to have the opportunity to experience this show! The orchestra and choral group, as well as his traveling musicians and singers were phenomenal! The stage and huge screens were awesome! The stage loooked like the gears in the opening scroll for GoT! And sharing this with other fans who love GoT made it that much more fun! The weirwood tree was my favorite! But I LOVED everything ! It was great to see how far the show has come in every aspect from season one to season six! It was very emotional! I will never forget it!❤It would have been great to have some kind of a meet up with WotW staff before hand to put faces to the names! And of course, to talk all things GoT!

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    6. Hislocal:
      How long is the show?

      It was 2 1/2 hours, but that included a 20 intermission and it started about 10 minutes late! It started at 8:10 and everything was over by 10:30. Just long or short enough! For a weekday evening it was a good length because we were home and in bed by 11:30, but couldn’t sleep because we kept taking about everything and was too excited to sleep!☺️Have a great time!

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    7. Going Sunday, and I can’t wait. Any info on the merch table? Wondering how many silver stags and gold dragons I’m like to part with.

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    8. Thank you for the review, Petra! The show sounds incredible; I’m glad that it lived up to your expectations. I’m particularly excited to hear that there are character and house-focused suites in addition to the music that we associate with certain iconic scenes. The production value looks to be amazing, and ending the concert with a the tribute to all of the fallen characters is a nice touch.

      I’m seeing the show this Saturday in Uncasville, CT, and I can’t freaking wait! In the meantime, I’m refreshing my memory by listening to all of the soundtracks again so that I’ll be able to identify certain pieces more quickly. Not sure if that exercise is helping to manage my excitement, or only increasing it …

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    9. Please tell me they played Stannis’s theme at least once. Maybe from the Blackwater episode?

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    10. I’m planning to go next week. My wife is concerned about the level of violence/gore/explicit sex that will be in the video clips. Can anyone comment on that? She knows the story, but is more of a PG-13 kind of girl and has stopped watching the show because of that.

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    11. M,

      I was at the opening show in Minneapolis/St.Paul. They edit out the most extreme violence but keep a lot of it in. The Red Wedding for instance, basically cuts only the attack on Talissa and the very last shot with Catelyn but includes everything else. I’d say it’s borderline PG-13/R.

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    12. Farcical_Aquatic_Ceremony,

      They did. It starts with a montage of Team Dragonstone moments from season 2-5, during which the Stannis theme plays. It then moves to the Blackwater footage which starts with the “Drums!” beat from the episode and continues with a montage of Blackwater footage culminating in Bronn firing his arrow and the wildfire explosion (pretty much all the show footage in the concert is presented montage style and out of chronological order).

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    13. I was at the United Center last night too :), can’t recommend it enough. The performance was thoroughly enjoyable, and the musicians were superb. The way show footage was interspersed with the live music flowed well, and lent a complimentary narrative with the music front & center. The special effects added to the ambiance. I really liked the understated effect used during “Maester” with the spotlights used like the reflecting astrolabes in the Citadel.
      I thought it was interesting that the orchestra were all musicians from Chicago. Is that going to be the case for every concert? That the bulk of the musicians are local? Or is it a coincidence that the group of people hired were local to Chi town?
      If each orchestra is local I am very impressed.

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    14. DireWolfHart:
      I was at the United Center last night too :), can’t recommend it enough. The performance was thoroughly enjoyable, and the musicians were superb. The way show footage was interspersed with the live music flowed well, and lent a complimentary narrative with the music front & center. The special effects added to the ambiance. I really liked the understated effect used during “Maester” with the spotlights used like the reflecting astrolabes in the Citadel.
      I thought it was interesting that the orchestra were all musicians from Chicago. Is that going to be the case for every concert? That the bulk of the musicians are local? Or is it a coincidence that the group of people hired were local to Chi town?
      If each orchestra is local I am very impressed.

      I agree! So impressive they hired all local talent! Can’t imagine how much time they had to rehearse, but the performance was flawless! ?

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    15. Can anybody recommend WHERE you should choose to sit? I’m on the ticketmaster site looking at the stage but I’m unsure of where the best experience would be. Where were you sitting Petra?

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    16. I am out in Vegas in May and wanted to see this show as I know it’s playing there too but it seems the timing doesn’t fit. I must say it looks really good though.

      Now where is that teaser trailer for season 7:)

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    17. Josh:
      M,

      I was at the opening show in Minneapolis/St.Paul. They edit out the most extreme violence but keep a lot of it in. The Red Wedding for instance, basically cuts only the attack on Talissa and the very last shot with Catelyn but includes everything else. I’d say it’s borderline PG-13/R.

      Thanks, Josh. Appreciate it.

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    18. Kamali:
      Can anybody recommend WHERE you should choose to sit? I’m on the ticketmaster site looking at the stage but I’m unsure of where the best experience would be.

      I was sitting in a corner, on the Lannister end where the orchestra is located. the big screens in the middle would probably have the best overall view (that’s the perspective of the ‘in Memoriam’ video is shown above). The Stark stage has a rotation of featured performers, it telescopes up and raises them during several of the songs.

      I would say the middle section, and second tier if you’re wanting to get a good view of the overall stage, monitors & special effects. The only seats that had a more limited view would be on the ends.

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    19. Rella,

      I’m glad you had fun, Rella! I was wondering how it went for you 🙂 I’m so beyond excited for Sunday!! My mom went to the Columbus show last night, and they were delayed for about an hour…did everyone else’s show start on time?

      On a side note, if anyone gets good pictures, post them to the official GoT and Ramin Djawadi’s Twitter pages, they want you to! My friend took an absolutely INCREDIBLE shot, timed perfectly, during the Winds of Winter, and it was re-tweeted 600 times within an hour, including by GoT and Ramin himself. Liam Cunningham has been pretty active in his support and admiration for the show, and he’s been re-tweeting a lot of concert-related things as well. That’s what is so special about Thrones…our fandom is amazing, and everyone involved in some form of GoT production is just as passionate as well.

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    20. DireWolfHart,

      When I bought my tickets, way back in August, I didn’t even consider that I might have to crane my neck to see the screens…so my possibly not-so-smart-self got floor seats, really close up. My mom went last night and even though she had a blast, she would’ve preferred second tier / balcony seats for a more “thorough” view of all the screens and everything going on on-stage. Maybe as the tour goes along (or even if there’s a follow-on tour at a later date) this is something they’ll re-evaluate somehow.

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    21. Wolfish,

      I already broke my vow and read the review. I am even more excited about going to the concert!

      (I tried to reply to your latest email but my Gmail account is wrecked! I will get in touch soon.)

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    22. Went to the Chicago show too–it was fantastic- I especially like seeing the iron throne make an appearance and the clever mechanical way the constructed the Weirwood Tree. Super cool. I was a bit sad though that it was not a sold out show. I had quite a few empty seats around me sitting in the 100 level. Finally, I appreciate that Ramin used local musicians to perform in the show too.

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    23. I purchased tickets to the United center concert back in August, or whenever it was they became available. Was all set to go last Sunday then found out a few days prior they had changed the date to Wed. I could not take off work with that short of notice, and so I’m out the almost 200 bucks. I’ll never again buy a ticket for anything so far in advance. I didn’t know they could just change date/times. Could have applied that money towards my cat’s vet bill 🙂

      That said, I am very happy for those who were able to go and enjoyed the show!

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    24. Rella,

      All orchestras are local. I saw the show last night in CT, and it was incredible. The orchestra was based in boston, and they will perform there next week with the show. But the DC show this week Wil use a different orchestra from that area.

      Djawadi has a core group of musicians travelling with him…violin, cello, vocalist, drummers, and the other instrument guy. The ewst, including the choir, we’re all local. So awesome.

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    25. I attended the show at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT last night. It was amazing – the kind of experience that I’ll remember for a long time. The arena, which seats 10,000 people, was completely full, and the audience was fully engaged, excited, and relentlessly enthusiastic.

      They packed a ton of music into the two-hour show; including all of the old favorites that any Game of Thrones fan would recognize immediately, and some hybrid medleys that blended several pieces together in interesting new ways to track the various characters’ journeys. (I found “The Rains of Castamere”, sung by a woman named Stevvi Alexander, to be a particular highlight). The production values were on point and the visuals were awesome. Most importantly, Ramin was a rock star – the crowd loved him. He and his fellow musicians got a standing O at the end.

      If anyone has the opportunity to go to one of the remaining shows, I strongly recommend that you do. I can’t recommend it highly enough!

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    26. ygritte,

      I’m so sorry for this bad luck! I wouldn’t imagine that concert dates can change (fine, they can be cancelled if something happens to the artist, but that’s a completely different situation), they should take into account that people might not be free to come in other days.
      But I wouldn’t lose hope if I were you. I’m sure Ramin will have other concerts in the near future.

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    27. Cyndi Talley,

      There’s no dress code to worry about. It’s more of a concert atmosphere than a night at the opera. The vast majority of the audience at the show I attended were wearing their regular clothes, which were mostly casual. Lots of people had Game of Thrones-related shirts and other apparel, and few of them were in full-on cosplay. Personally, I wore one of my Watchers on the Wall T-Shirts and a pair of jeans, which put me in good company.

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    28. Cyndi Talley,

      No dress code beyond public decency laws & local rules about weaponry (if cosplaying). There were quite a few people in cosplay gear @ the Chicago show. I was sitting next to Dany & Melisandre 🙂
      Be aware that you may have to stand in line for an extended period of time at some point, so comfortable shoes are a Good Idea. The arena itself was a bit on the cool side too, so taking a coat or jacket-dependent on your weather- might also be a notion.

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    29. Just saw the show in Boston. Brilliantly executed. The 2.5 hours flew by. Loved every minute of it. Djawadi talked a bit about his schooling at Berklee College of Music. “Light of the Seven” was my favorite.

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    30. Did anyone throw down for the VIP seats? Seems like they may not have the best visual angle but I’m sure have some ambiance brownie points 🙂 How was the “round table/meet and greet” with Ramin? Can you offer any other thoughts on the VIP experience? I was gifted VIP Stark seats for tomorrows show and cant really find anything about what to expect…thanks so much!

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