“Does Game of Thrones even need dialogue?” is the question I was asking myself after attending the show’s live concert experience this past week. Walking away from the auditorium to my car, I was still entranced by the way in which Ramin Djawadi’s compositions so beautifully portrayed the evolution of the show over seven seasons in just a matter of two and a half hours. A show that has brought so much entertainment to the world throughout the past seven years, and will most likely be complete by this time next fall.
The answer to that question, of course, is yes. Game of Thrones often has excellent, even iconic dialogue with great deliveries from the show’s actors. But Djawadi’s scoring works together with the story and the visuals to tap into emotions and dive deep into the thematic framework of the show.
Especially for compositions such as Djawadi’s for Thrones, which are absolutely breathtaking in a way that’s best experienced live in a room full of hundreds of people, with dragon fire shooting from the stage and an explosion of imitation green wildfire covering Djawadi during a particularly intense performance of “Light of the Seven.” With the staged spectacle, the musical performances, and the big screen playing an arrangement of clips from the show, it was every Thrones fan’s dream writ large.
Near the beginning of the performance, when the lights went down and both “The King’s Arrival” followed by the theme song were performed as the opening credits played on the big screen, it didn’t feel as if you were sitting down to watch an episode of the show. Rather, it felt as if you were entering an episode of Game of Thrones. Being surrounded by the score at such a loud volume as well as the collective experience of being in a room full of people, provided fans with the opportunity to see the show in a way that gets all of your senses awake and enthusiastic. And to make the experience more open and immersive, Djawadi made sure to express at the beginning of the show to let him know when a favorite scene comes on the screen, or a beloved character is shown. Plus, to give the setting that extra touch, there was even an iron throne sitting on the stage, with the chorus in the back dressed in maester robes.
The power of the experience, however, truly laid in its ability to evoke such emotional storytelling, and a recap of the show’s growth over the years, through a perfect mix of visuals and music, with a few iconic pieces of dialogue spread amongst it all occasionally. For each composition, there was an accompanying montage of scenes spliced together to portray whichever character’s score was being performed. When “Needle” was played, a fan favorite, a montage of Arya’s journey from season one to season seven was shown along with it; from Winterfell to King’s Landing to her time with the Hound to the House of Black and White.
Near the end of the show, even Jon and Daenerys’ season seven theme was performed alongside scenes of their budding relationship. And for a brief moment, the live music and the accompanying clips were such a sight combined, that I truly almost forgot about their familial ties. Until Jon knocked on Daenerys’ door in the season seven finale and it all came nauseatingly rushing back.
The show was much more than just rewatching clips of scenes to the live music though because the performances of each song really allowed you to feel the characters’ stories on a visceral level. And through all kinds of visual effects on the stage, you felt the heat from Daenerys’ dragons. You saw the snow as it was falling on Jaime’s glove in the season finale. You relived the Red Wedding as the “Rains of Castamere” was beautifully performed by the orchestra and the very talented vocalist, Stephanie Alexander.
And if you’re a pretty big Thrones fan, sitting there watching these characters evolve from season to season and the journey’s they’ve been on while hearing the very scores that have traveled with them, can be an emotional experience. At this point, the characters have almost become more than figures on our TV screens, but individuals we’ve let into our homes for seven years now, and part of the reason for that familiarity of them are the accompanying scores we hear each episode.
Even if you aren’t a Game of Thrones fan or someone who had never seen the show, the live experience would have still been pretty entertaining. Watching a scene of Game of Thrones is already difficult to draw the eye away from, but the various theatrics happening on stage easily lured audience attention as well. Aside from the smoke machines, lights, and different visual effects, in addition to performing the compositions, the musicians even took part in the spectacle. At one point in the show, violinist Molly Rogers was hoisted up on a platform that probably could have almost touched the ceiling, in the longest dress that’s ever been worn in the history of performance, all while continuing to play the violin.
Being at the live concert experience really exemplifies how special music is to the visual medium and how essential Djawadi’s scores have been to each character’s stories. The Game of Thrones Live Concert experience highlights this in the best possible way, making the show a perfect evening to revisit the characters and the show as we anticipate the coming of the eighth and final season next year.