Troxy, London – 31st October 2016 – Doors: 6:30pm
LOST THEMES FOUND ON STAGE
In the wake of original tour promoters ATP folding, the pre-show ticketing fiasco and the shit-storm which followed the apparent overselling (and under-conscious organisation of) the “upgraded” Manchester date two nights earlier, it would be fair to say there was a fair bit of concern and apprehension amongst the flock of John Carpenter fans snaking around the Tower Hamlets venue on Monday night. Even the stewards seems somewhat confused by exactly who required a re-printed ticket from the box office! Thankfully, everyone was only too happy to help.
While unhappy attendees are still raging about the Victoria Warehouse debacle, any fears of a repeat at the Troxy were left at the doors of the gorgeous Art Deco-stylised venue when they opened two hours ahead of the iconic horror director and composer’s stage entrance. While the vast auditorium – which was standing room only on the ground floor, with seating in the circle – quickly filled up with punters both in regular dress and those entering into the spirit of the spooky holiday, there was never any sense of crushing chaos.
Backed by a five piece band of two guitarists, bass, drums and his son on synths, the main man – who, lest we forget, is no spring chicken at 68 – bounded onto the stage and took his place behind his keys and mic at 8:30pm, kicking off a rampant 75 minute set which comprised a host of his most famous electronica-fuelled soundtrack scores (Assault on Precinct 13, Escape From New York, Christine, etcetera) intermingled with new tracks from his two recent Lost Themes album releases.
On this most apt autumn date it would have been easy to single out the suite from 1978’s Halloween as the night’s stand out piece. It certainly was powerfully affecting as the classic synth line burst forth, but truth be told the setlist was littered with a smorgasbord of equally memorable highlights. A smoke machine added ghostly ambience to The Fog (called it!), while an uproarious cheer went up as John donned sunglasses for the well received theme from They Live.
With edited compilations from the respective films playing out on a large screen behind the musicians, you might think the most popular hits (Big Trouble in Little China, The Thing) would generate the biggest applause, however the plucky selections from Lost Themes I and II – be they rockier or synthier pieces – were of equal quality and went down just as well with the up-for-it crowd. The colourful and eclectic stage lighting also meant they didn’t feel any less grandiose for the lack of video accompaniment.
As a huge fan of film scores and having already been to see Clint Mansell live earlier in the year, I was really enthusiastic about Release the Bats. That said, I can fully understand why even the most ardent gig-goer might be apprehensive about how exciting a night they might have; there’s no mosh pit, nothing to dance along to and no choruses to chant at the top of your lungs. However, before jumping to that conclusion give John Carpenter’s vivid, fun and mind-blowing concert experience a try. The man was totally up for bringing his music to the masses, fist-pumping and dad dancing the night away, and his buoyant enthusiasm is infectious.
CR@B’s Claw Score: