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Game of Thrones concert: songs of ice and fire

WESTEROS COMES TO DENVER

The voice of Cersei Lannister echoes across the filled-to-capacity Pepsi Center: “Silence your phones now, or you will be boiled in the blood of your children.” A full orchestra queues up the Game of Thrones theme song; the opening credits play across screens that are 30 feet wide. It’s a relatively soft, expected opening, but it was all it took to transport the enthusiastic Denver audience to the heart of Westeros.

The Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience is a 24-stop national tour that uses the HBO show’s own prolific composer, Ramin Djawadi, to immerse fans as completely into George R.R. Martin’s storyverse as they would ever sanely want to be. The March 19 performance brought with it Djawadi to conduct a group of performers that toured with him (including the lead singer and champion violinist) as well as a full orchestra and choir provided by Denver’s own music community. As an attempt to mitigate the massive scale of the project—which included a stage that occupied the entire floor of the Pepsi Center—groups from each city included in the tour were invited to provide their own musical talent and reduce the amount of performers who needed to stay on the road.

Though pop culture celebrations are often hosted by the Denver Symphony, the Game of Thrones concert was a performance like no other. True to the nature of the television show, the production valued spectacle and awe as much as it did offering a quality performance.

The soaring musical score was accompanied at all times by video reels produced exclusively for the tour. At one point, the full war sequence from “Battle of the Bastards” (season six, episode nine) was projected with no cuts: audiences watched Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton approach their final confrontation for 15 minutes straight. It was a bold choice that could only be made by a production intimately familiar with the story it was representing. Upon its release, “Battle of the Bastards” was immediately labeled a series best for Game of Thrones, and its score—which, in the absence of consistent dialogue, took on a leading role in the episode’s sound production—is largely responsible.

Though not as extended, other scenes were replicated just as powerfully. Audiences watched Daenerys Targaryen free the enslaved population called the Unsullied, and when she ordered her dragons to raze the slavers with fire, pyrotechnics across the venue ignited to flush audiences’ faces with heat. In that moment, Game of Thrones became a three-dimensional experience.

Every detail of the Live Concert was cultivated to give fans a new way to enjoy the show. The Iron Throne and a Weirwood tree ascended from below the stage to make cameo appearances; performers embraced elaborate costuming and walked through the audience in Sparrow robes while chanting to conjure a lived experience. Had Djawadi arrived prepared only to give an audio symphony, fans would have been happy (as Game of Thrones is already one of the best scored productions on television) but their efforts to make so many forms of media interact felt like a new installment in the saga rather than a reproduction of past successes.

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