Hans Zimmer at Hammersmith Apollo – Review

Before playing Aurora, Hans Zimmer’s tribute to the victims of the tragic shooting in the Colorado movie theatre in 2006, he spoke about what moved him to write the composition. A journalist had asked for his opinion on the massacre of 12 innocent people and Zimmer had replied “devastated…but devastated is just a word”.

The next day he set about creating a stirring and emotional musical tribute to the people who had lost their lives in what should have been a safe, happy environment.

Hearing Zimmer recall this upsetting story created a strange juxtaposition as I sat amongst thousands of cineastes and music lovers alike. Because here we sat, in a similar theatre environment, experiencing unbridled joy and awe as every theatre trip should bring. And as I tried to collect my thoughts on just what this evening, these songs, these films, these world events mean to me, I too realised that words can’t do them anywhere near enough justice.

This concert was an experience. Pure and simple. There is nothing that I can compare it with because there is nothing like it. My bucket list includes the hope to spend this kind of evening with all my favourite living film composers, and having already seen Danny Elfman and Howard Shore in a similar environment I can attest that they are as wildly different as the films with which their music is associated.


There is something so personal about how hearing these iconic scores becomes. Suddenly you are awash with the context from which you associate the films, the memory of the times in your life when you first saw them, the emotions they stir up in you. All of this happens whilst your senses are fired by hearing such beautiful music played so loudly, so clearly and so well arranged that you can pick out emotive nuance you never knew even existed in the cues until now.

But with this show it was also about fun. Zimmer and his fellow musicians had no conductor, nor did they have a seat that they were chained to. They moved, danced and performed around the stage, each becoming characters in their own right, and always visibly enthralled by having the privilege of playing these songs on this stage.

And as the grandiose layers of Zimmer’s signature style built and built across each piece, so did the waves of overwhelming amazement draw up from inside each and every one of us in the room. You could see people having full body reactions to the music, those sitting near to me often shutting their eyes as if to give at least one of their senses a rest from the enormity of the moment and just let the sound do its thing.

But even as you read the paragraphs of superlative laced prose above, you have to know that – in a case like this – they are just words. There is no way to translate a formative evening on to a page. Even to listen to it back cannot do justice to the feeling being there created. And that’s not me trying to sound elitist and snobby. It’s simply a fact. So all I can say is that if you ever get the chance to see Hans Zimmer in concert, you take it.



Crimson Tide


The Da Vinci Code

The Lion King

Pirates of the Caribbean

Rain Man

Green Card

Man of Steel

The Thin Red Line

Happy feat. Pharrell Williams

Amazing Spiderman 2

The Dark Knight Trilogy



James is a movie obsessive with a particular love for scores and screenplays. He has written for numerous blogs, sites and cinemas and has been involved in several screenwriting projects. He can usually be found in front of a large plasma screen devouring Westerns, 80s pulp, Jimmy Stewart movies or anything by the Coens.

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