John Carpenter, the mastermind behind horror and Sci-fi classics such as Halloween (1978), The Thing (1982) and Prince of Darkness (1987) is on tour. The Cult director/ soundtrack Composer is recognized as this famous director who’s scoring his pictures himself. So he is touring to play some music.
From 1974’s Dark Star, his feature debut, to 2001’s Ghost of Mars, Carpenter composed the music to all his theatrical movies (the 1970’s and 80’s soundtracks were produced in association with Alan Howarth) except for Starman (1984, music by Jack Nitzsche) and The Thing (1982, Music by Ennio Morricone with partial overdubs by Carpenter and Howarth).
In the Live version, things start roundly with a pretty good rendering of the theme to Carpenter’s Sci-fi Adventure, Escape from NY (1981), one of his best. Accompanied by a quintet, with his son Cody, also on keyboards just like dad, the director leads the show (his gear is set at the front) with a quiet but strong presence. A little technical snag? No problems, he’ll talk to the audience like they are old buddies. They were already captivated anyway. When the first notes of the theme to Assault on Precint 13 (1976), a great piece of minimalism with its imposing startle bass, echoed (the sound was good) he got his audience right back into it. The themes, backed by projected film segments, are often coupled thematically. So it goes from more ambient chilling work like The Fog (1980) and Village of the Damned (1995) to an homage to the two aforementioned scores provided by other composers (Nitzsche and Morricone) to eventually more ‘Blues rock’ oriented pieces like Big Trouble in Little China (1986) and They Live (1988). The sequences are excellent and more themes follow, including the inevitable and much awaited, Halloween (1978) toward the end.
John Carpenter knows he’s not the greatest musician on Earth. But he has an ear for music, melodies and efficient effects. He’s got brain and guts. He also knows people pay to see him and therefore (beside being in good company with his musicians) his interventions (like his music scores) are calculated and right to the point. He makes things simple, but diligently and with good humor. He respects his audience. If this entertainer knows one thing, it is how to provide the goods. And it is good, it is fun. And the cult audience clearly enjoyed their evening.
Upon Leaving, John Carpenter asked us, with a fatherly voice, to walk home safely… Christine (1983) might be lurking… and then, he and the band followed with the music theme to this famous deadly Plymouth Adventure… A great closing.
A pretty cool evening Mr Carpenter.