John Williams at the Hollywood Bowl

Dan Goldwasser Showbiz

Yep – tis that time of year again! John Williams held his annual concert at the Hollywood Bowl, and this time he did a knock-out job. Before the show began, Matt and I were hanging out, having dinner, when Michael Giacchino approached us – very nice of him to say hi! Also saw a few other industry folks, like Mike Gorfaine, Teddy Shapiro, Robert Townson, J.J. Abrams, and a few others.

Beginning with the “Star Spangled Banner”, he then played the “Liberty Fanfare” before giving us a very nice suite of music from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Appropriately enough, this was followed by two pieces from War of the Worlds (“Escape from the City”, “Epilogue”). Williams then spoke and talked about sending our “good will” and feelings to those in the Gulf, and then talked about how last year we lost Raksin, Goldsmith, and Bernstein. He then played Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Laura, and The Magnificent Seven, in honor of those composers. Just to end the first half on a big note, he played “Parade of the Charioteers” from Ben-Hur.

After the intermission, Williams played a new suite called “Monsters, Beauties, Heroes”, which showed photos from all sorts of films, as music played. For “Monsters”, it was King Kong and Jaws. For “Beauties”, it was Casablanca and An Affair to Remember. And finally, “Heroes” was Robin Hood and Superman. From there, Williams gave us a very nice suite of music from Far and Away, before depressing us with Amistad and Schindler’s List. (Note: there is a special place in hell reserved for the geek who shouted “Play STAR WARS!!!!” just as Bing Wang was about to start with the moving violin part from Schindler’s List. Rude jackass.) After all that sad music, Williams hit us with the triple-punch finale, of music from Star Wars.

Now, last time Williams had a choir and didn’t use them in “Duel of the Fates”. So I was pleased that this time, he did. He played “Battle of the Heroes” (with choir) from Episode III, and then “Luke and Leia” from Return of the Jedi (the French horn player was a little sloppy), and then finally “Duel of the Fates”. Aahh. What a nice way to end the concert!

Of course, that’s not the end. There were encores to be had! So he played the “Main Title” from Star Wars. Then “Yoda’s Theme” from Empire Strikes Back. Then “The Raiders March” from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and finally, ended the concert with “Over the Moon” from E.T.. Whew. It was a great concert, but Williams barely spoke, and when you break it down in terms of music that he wrote, 12 of the 14 pieces were either from Star Wars or Spielberg films. I know, I know – give the audience what they want. But c’mon – surely he’s written some amazing work that deserves to be heard. Don’t waste the MAJORITY of the concert with the same stuff – give us something new, and then one or two “classics” to placate the die-hard nerds in the nose-bleed sections who brought their lightsabers to role-play with as he played Star Wars. (Yes, they did that. Geeks.) I just hope next year he’ll give us something that Speilberg and Lucas had nothing to do with.