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I saw John Carpenter play live and he was all out of bubblegum!

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Last night I was lucky enough to see a true legend, John Carpenter, play themes from his many brilliant movies. I have been a huge fan of Carpenter’s work for many years and The Thing is my all time favourite movie so to see him in the flesh was an absolute privilege.

The venue was the Liverpool Olympia, a grand old building that has seen better days, but is packed with character. As my friend Pete and I made our way from the box office we commented on how much it all looked like a location from a Carpenter film. Somewhere in a dark cellar you would probably find a a large glass cylinder full of green, glowing goo. The perfect place for John Carpenter to perform.

The crowd slowly gathered as we waiting for the Horror Master to arrive. Carpenter has composed most of the scores for his films over the last forty years and has got a couple of albums, the Lost Themes, full of original material. A man with a camera walked along the stage, filming this and that, hopefully for a concert film. Then Mr Carpenter himself was spotted at the side of the stage and a hushed whisper rippled through the crowd. However, he was being filmed and went off in another direction. A classic bait and switch!

Then it happened. John Carpenter took to the stage with his band, which included his son Cody on lead synthesizer, and godson, Daniel Davies on lead guitar. I was one person away from the stage. So close I could see every line on Carpenter’s face. With a grin and a┬ánod to the band he started with the theme from Escape From New York and the crowd was transported. The backdrop lit up with a beautifully edited montage of scenes from the film and Carpenter kept on dancing to the beat as he played the iconic tune.

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It went on like this through the set. A mix of his film scores and Lost Themes and every one was a wonder. He chatted briefly between each track and as he said he loved horror and had directed “science fiction, thrillers, slasher tales, and ghost stories” they went into The Fog as the smoke machines filled the room. A surreal moment to gaze through a literal fog to catch glimpses of John Carpenter and the red eyes of Captain Blake.

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At one point Carpenter removed his glasses as an eerie tone filled the room. Carpenter and the band each put on a pair of sunglasses and we were on to They Live. Listening to that theme performed live while watching Roddy Piper and Keith David have the greatest fight ever seen on film was a joy to behold.

The tracks they played from the two Lost Themes albums just build on the movie themes. Vortex, Purgatory, Wraith and Night are all brilliant tracks and build huge soundscapes that trick the imagination into seeing Snake Plissken, Nada and MacReady on adventures that were never filmed.

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Big Trouble In Little China funked it up a bit and Carpenter said it was the most fun he had filming with Kurt Russell. Always good to see Jack Burton and Lo-Pan, while In The Mouth of Madness and Prince of Darkness brought back the cosmic terror. Before going in to The Thing, Carpenter explained that it was Ennio Morricone’s score, but they wanted to play the opening theme. It was so, so good.

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Of course, with it being the 28th October it was only fitting that the theme from Halloween work even better. Truly one of the great horror movie themes.

The night was an incredible moment of my life. Seeing John Carpenter and hearing him perform the music from those classic films was something I will treasure forever. I just I hope I am half as cool as John Carpenter when I am 68. Hell, I hope I am half as cool as him now!

With a warning to be careful crossing the roads on our journey home, Carpenter launched in to the theme from Christine and everything was right with the world.

While walking back to my car I was sure I saw a tramp that looked like Alice Cooper!

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One Comment

  1. Congratulations on avoiding the dreadful Manchester venue. Only a brilliant set by John Carpenter and his band saved the evening.

    My review: http://www.ghostwords.co.uk/?p=691

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