12 July 2010

EDITORIAL - Star Wars in Concert

Star Wars in Concert
11 July 2010, Xcel Energy Center, 3:00 PM

(Note: Forgive the rather crappy picture quality, I entirely blame it on the camera)

I am a STAR WARS fan and proud of it. I love the music John Williams has composed, especially for the Prequel Trilogy ["Battle of the Heroes" will forever remain one of the most powerful works of all time, in my opinion]. So the chance to be present in a room where his work is being conducted right before our very eyes with visual music videos as a plus - well, my being there was basically a duh. So yesterday was the big day, and by golly it was fun.

Girlfriend's mom drove us from White Bear to the Xcel, and we're lucky she did as such because I'm pretty sure we would have been lost a dozen times over without her help. When we arrived and entered the Xcel, I was floored. Me being not all that much into hockey, and never having seen the likes of Avril Lavigne and Justin Beiber (yuck!) at Xcel, this was my first time inside, and it was freakin' cool. The entire auditorium was filled with people and stands of memorabilia sellers. Against the wall, there were also people dressed up in very authentic STAR WARS outfits, authentic enough that I wager they were supplied by Lucasfilm for the purposes of this enterprise. There was a Darth Vader who engaged in lightsaber duels with little kids, a Jango Fett who 'shot' at random folks, plenty of Stormtroopers and Clonetroopers, one wookie (I don't think it was Chewbacca), and a Sand Person. Um, cool!

It was basically stop and go traffic inside with all the people in one location, becoming 'ooowed' and 'awwed' by the costumes on display as well as the video feeds so they stop and take a pic. It was a tad annoying for it to take nearly 15 mins. to walk what would only take 3 mins. worth of distance, but why bother being mad about that? I mean, STAR WARS IN CONCERT is about to start, man! On display there was the Kit Fisto costume from the Prequels, Han Solo in carbonite from EMPIRE and RETURN, Darth Vader from the Original Trilogy, a Imperial outfit from the OT, a Yoda Muppet that looks PT but could very well be OT, Queen Amidala's big wardrobe outfit from when the Trade Federation first invades and the Jedi intervene, and I think that's about it. Nah, wait - a Wookie was also on display, and I'm pretty sure that wasn't Chewie either. Next to displays, there were these giant background photos of a landscape [e.g., Death Star, Naboo fields, etc.] for folks to stand in front of and take photos. Additionally, there were some beautiful HD TVs showing some behind-the-scenes material. The nifty part is that there was actually some new additions to the footage, but there was still a good chunk that surfing through the DVD bonus features you'd eventually find it.

The official IN CONCERT memorabilia dealers had about 12 shirts of various colors and designs for about $30/$35 a piece, and although I sorta wanted it, that price was not much with the me happiness. There was a STAR WARS IN CONCERT program that was big and thick selling for $30, and a lenticular IN CONCERT poster. Post-concert, I ended up succumbing to stupidity and threw down $30 on a program that, for the most part, wasn't all that worth it. But then again, this is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so why not splurge, eh?

So it's finally 3:00, and the concert begins. The lights dimmer, James Earl Jones' Darth Vader voice echoes throughout the entire theater as he hopes we enjoy the concert, and the orchestra begins a compilation piece that is freakin' awesome. After that concludes, our host Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) comes onstage, whose purpose is to give a summary of the STAR WARS story (which is rather unnecessary) and lead us into the next song. Alright, now I'm basically just gonna go bullet point from here on out about the concert:
  • The first thing I want to note: all six movies have NEVER EVER looked better than they did yesterday broadcasted on the Xcel screen. I seriously doubt the rumored 2011 Blu-Rays will even come close to looking as gorgeous, beautiful, and so richfully detailed as what I saw. It was seriously as if every one of those movies had just finished post-production and we were getting the first clips there. NEW HOPE, EMPIRE, RETURN - all three of those looked flawless. It was amazing. I wanted to concentrate on the orchestra and the music, but I couldn't turn away from the beauty of the screen. The only time I think these films could possibly look even better would be a official Lucasfilm projector back on Skywalker Ranch. Amazing. That alone was worth the price of admission.
  • Although it was cool to have a host who was actually physically present for all six STAR WARS movies, Anthony Daniels sure seems full of himself in a William Shatner-type of way. It's like, "I'm C-3PO bitch, worship me!!!" Perhaps they should have rewritten his lines...
  • The disappointing aspect of the evening: if anyone bought the EPISODE III soundtrack when it was originally released, a DVD accompanied it in the back. The DVD was called "A Musical Journey", sporting music videos with full-length tracks. Well, the sad news is that there's not a lick of new footage to be found in any of the stuff shown at the Xcel, and 85% of the music videos were the EXACT same ones from the CD/DVD disc. I was sorta hoping for something new in that regard. Although, in a sense, I did - there were three additions to the concert that wasn't in the DVD, but they weren't exactly anything profound or totally awesome.
  • When the concert was 'over' and Daniels and the conductor were bowing, folks started to leave. After a minute or two, they asked everyone, "Do you wanna go home yet? 'Cuz, I think we can go for one more, can't you?!" And so they played the Imperial March one more time, with the gorgeous HD crane of their sweeping over the orchestra and being broadcasted on the big screen in glorious resolution.
  • It was chilling to hear "Duel of the Fates", "Battle of the Heroes", "Across the Stars", and "The Imperial March" live. Wow. That's all I can say. Wow.
  • I LOVE the fact the Intermission sign was in STAR WARS font.
Overall, STAR WARS IN CONCERT was a fun experience. It was absolutely marvelous listening to the music of John Williams being blasted all over the theater, and it was equally enjoyable hearing all the STAR WARS conversations going on - such as parents questioning their kids with SW trivia, or really heated debates between a few really devoted fans.

If STAR WARS IN CONCERT is heading to your town anytime soon, and if you like the music composed for the saga, then I wouldn't hesitate to recommend a trip over. By the end of the experience, I can nearly guarantee you'll wanna sit down with pop & popcorn and have a STAR WARS marathon - all six in one seating.

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