Given its high death toll, proclivity toward violence, and shaky government structure, Westeros should be avoided at all costs. But when Westeros arrives in the form of a live concert in one of the largest arenas the country, with special effects to boot? Well, that’s worth a visit.
EW attended the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience in New York’s Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night alongside throngs of fans, some even decked out as Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. Below, the coolest moments from the show.
Ice and Fire and Water and Sparks
With composer Ramin Djawadi and the orchestra seated on a stage that took up only about a third of the space, performers were free to wander onto the other sets, including stages rigged for special effects beneath the large screens, which played clips and highlights from the drama that aligned with the music. The show began with an elaborate unveiling of the Iron Throne, which rose out of the center with sparks and fog, then followed it with bursts of pyrotechnics and other effects depending on the theme being played.
Naturally, the Targaryen scores led to bursts of flame across the stage — the most impressive being the ones from above that mimicked the onscreen dragons’ flames — while the Greyjoy theme featured a cellist sitting on a platform, splashed by water from below. The most immersive segment involved a digital weirwood tree projected on a series of screens that surrounded the violinist (see the image above). The crowd ooh-ed and ahh-ed as fake, blood-red leaves fell from above during the Stark theme, blanketing sections close to the stage in a version of winter Ned would have appreciated. And the grand finale finished with green wildfire enveloping the sets as the Sept of Baelor exploded in all its glory on screen.
The Night Is Dark and Full of Cheers
Immersive didn’t just mean special effects, or even the white confetti that fell during Jon Snow’s theme onto the audience’s laps (and into their drinks). The arena had the sections arranged under banners bearing house sigils and began the performance with a montage of each house’s best and most brutal moments, inviting passionate applause for those loyal to their houses. (Yours truly was seated in the Bolton section, unfortunately.)
Early in the show, Djawadi also brought actor Isaac Hempstead Wright, who plays Bran, out to greet the fans — and the cheering didn’t stop there. Whenever a Stark appeared, fervent fans shouted “King in the North!”; when Daenerys arrived on screen, shouts of “Mhysa!” rang out; and when Cersei’s walk of shame played, some in the audience giddily shouted “Shame!” Still, Cersei should feel proud of her concert appearances: She inspired cries of “more wine!” often throughout the show.
And speaking of Cersei, Lena Headey contributed a sassy message in a recording at the start of the show reminding attendees to silence their cell phones, or else they’ll be brought to her — and remember, she finds contact with her subjects “distasteful.”
And Now Your Rewatch Begins
The Battle of the Bastards looked incredible, but the sequence was sonically powerful as well. The live concert helped emphasize the power of the score from beginning to end, as the audience watched most of the battle, beginning with Rickon’s non-zig-zag path to death and ending with Sansa’s victory. The same experience happened with the Red Wedding — maybe not the most pleasant re-viewing— and both sequences managed to immerse fans through the sound of the orchestra playing with the clips. During the show’s most thrilling moments, it was like being at a rock concert — and in its most tender, like attending a chamber orchestra performance at Lincoln Center. And when “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” plays jauntily over a cheeky In Memoriam reel, well… that’s something different altogether.
Tickets to Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience are available here.
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