A Night With John Carpenter Live!

ScoreKeeper attends the John Carpenter concert and lives to tell about it.

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a very unique and memorable concert event. Famed film director and composer John Carpenter is currently in the middle of a summer tour across North America and Europe where he’s been performing selections of his film scores as well as originally composed pieces from his Lost Themes and Lost Themes II albums released in the past year.

As a general fan of music you’re always hoping to catch your favorite artists live. When you’re a film music fan, especially of John Carpenter, you don’t really suspect you’ll ever have the opportunity to hear the music live, much less performed by the filmmaker himself!

There’s a new trend that’s been gaining steam the last several years where film music is getting out from behind the screen and onto the stage. Michael Giacchino’s complete scores for Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) have been performed by orchestras live all over the world, as well as Howard Shore’s scores for The Lord of The Rings (2001-2003), and other film composers including Hans Zimmer, Bear McCreary, Jeff Beal, and Clint Mansell have all taken their film music to the concert stages in recent years.

But John Carpenter isn’t quite the musician these other artists are, so I never could have imagined in my wildest dreams that I would get to see him perform his music live on stage for almost an hour and a half! It was a superlative performance that will forever live in my memory.

The concert was very unpretentious and “bare-bones” and that’s a compliment. There was no need to over-hype the music with super gaudy light shows or distracting effects. (Although utilizing the fog machine during Carpenter’s performance of The Fog (1980) was a stroke of genius!). Everything was done tastefully, just enough to put the music (and the films) on a pedestal. The show featured Carpenter front-and-center backed by five other musicians (including John’s son Cody Carpenter on keyboards and Daniel Davies on lead guitar). During the performance of each film’s score, a montage of various scenes was projected onto a white wall behind the band.

They performed many of John’s film scores including Big Trouble in Little China (1986), They Live (1988), The Fog (1980), Prince of Darkness (1987), Halloween (1978), Escape From New York (1981), Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), In The Mouth of Madness (1994), and Christine (1983) as well as several selections from his two non-film music albums including “Vortex”, “Wraith”, and “Night.”

The concert wasn’t sold-out but it was well attended and I’m hearing that the tour is going extraordinarily well. Some cities have even had to add additional shows. When I saw them they were nearing the end of the North American portion of the tour. He will be in New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., Detroit, Chicago, and Milwaukee during the next week and then they’re off to Europe.

If you’re a John Carpenter fan even just a little bit, you owe it to yourself to indulge in this unique treat. Who knows if this trend will continue or if it’s just a fleeting fad. Either way, now is your chance to catch these acts live, especially John Carpenter.

For more information on dates and ticket sales, check out John Carpenter's web site.