When I saw Jason’s photos from the recent Carpenter concert, I wanted to know more and asked if he could write a show review to share his experiences about it. Since this tour wasn’t coming this way to Atlanta, I had to imagine it through the photos Jason took. Check out the future dates here: The Official John Carpenter home page
I had been looking forward to this show for awhile and had splurged on some really nice seats in the beautiful and historic Paramount theatre in Seattle WA. No openers, and the show started on time! John Carpenter and his band (Cody Carpenter, Daniel Davies, Scott Seiver, John Spiker, and John Konesky) opened with the “Escape from New York”main theme song, which I had expected. Executed perfectly, this was a great way to open the night up. Next was the main theme from “Assault on Precinct 13” which has always been a personal favorite of mine, that simple drum beat and the low end synth line are possibly even more memorable than the “Halloween” theme!
Next up were two cuts from his last years album, “Lost Themes”, “Vortex” and “Mystery” which wouldn’t have sounded odd if they had been on “Halloween” or “The Fog”. Speaking of which, was the next track he played. “The Fog” was never my favorite John Carpenter movie, I’m less familiar with the soundtrack, but I really need to revisit it apparently. Following that, the next song was easily the funnest and campiest of the evening; All the musicians played a very familiar blues riff, and proceeded to put on sunglasses and launched into “Coming to LA” from “They Live”. Everyone was cheering! It was nice to see that Carpenter and Co. weren’t taking themselves too seriously or that the evening was going to be a completely sombre affair.
The band then paid homage to Ennio Morricone by playing “Desolation” from John Carpenters greatest work by far, “The Thing”. Seeing the scenes form the movie in the background while the band played on, I remembered the feeling of dread and isolation the soundtrack added to what was an already terrifying film.
After that, another new song, “Distant dreams” off of the “Lost Themes II” album. Ive owned this album for awhile, and while Ive always thought the songs were good, for some reason, the selection of the tracks made me feel that the tracks sounded more “slick” compared to LTI, something about it hadn’t quit clicked with me, but hearing the material live really changed that for me, in this setting, they had more power and less polish.
One of the moments I had been waiting for was being able to hear “The Pork Chop Express” from “Big Trouble In Little China”. Carpenter expressed how much fun he and Kurt Russell had making this film together, and apparently the crowd felt the same way. I LOVE this soundtrack; it’s cheesy, over the top, and just like the movie, it remains the funnest movie in his long career.
“Wraith” and “Night” from LTI were next, sequencing and arpeggiators galore, the two songs wouldn’t be out of place in a dance club, and were the perfect transition to the “Halloween” main theme song. At this point, John Carpenter addressed the audience: “All my career, I’ve made horror movies, I love horror movies, and horror movies will last forever”! The crowd roared and then that familiar eerie keyboard played while Jamie Lee Curtis ran from Michael Meyers on the screen behind the band.
Lasting before the encore was the main theme for “In the Mouth of Madness”, I’m not as big a fan of this soundtrack, but again, live, it was really well executed and suitably darker. Does this soundtrack warrant another listen? Possibly.
For the encore, “The Prince of darkness” was up first. Despite it being relatively later in his movie making career, this soundtrack has always sounded much more closer to his earlier compositions; minimal synth lines, creepy ambient atmospheres, lots of dread. I have long sung the praises of this soundtrack, and it’s easily available now due to a repress of it on Death Waltz records…..
“Virtual survivor”was next from LTII, and while I enjoyed it, I was wanting more classic material at this point, seeing as this was the encore, so naturally, he played another new one, “Purgatory”, which again, I liked, but was hoping for more older material.
Last song of the evening was from “Christine”: “Christine attacks”. I had forgotten what a great soundtrack this was, I hadn’t really explored it much, but the following day after this show, I found it on Youtube, and have been enjoying it immensely. Reminds me a lot of the Tangerine Dream soundtracks of the same time.
The whole evening was maybe an hour and fifteen minutes tops. I’m sure everyone their had ideas of what they would have liked to hear, and material that he skipped that might have been played (Halloween III for me, the “Silver Shamrock” theme is the best!), but when you have a career as long and storied as John Carpenter, you really have to stick to “the hits”. I went home satisfied with the selection, and this was a night I won’t ever forget. Now that I’ve seen John Carpenter and Goblin, I just need to cross off Fabio Frizzi and the triptych would be complete!
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