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Star Wars in Concert

Arts & Culture | December 6, 2009

Lady  Gaga, Weezer, and… Star Wars in Concert? What?

A month ago, I scanned a list of upcoming shows in Boston and found myself both perplexed and impressed. I consider myself a Star Wars fan (by “fan,” I mean I may or may not have a foot-tall C-3P0 PEZ dispenser in my dorm), but even I was baffled by the “concert” aspect of America’s most beloved film series.

I should have remembered then that not only is the Star Wars series one of America’s most beloved film series, it is also one of its most lucrative. Sure, you see Lord of the Rings paraphernalia in Sky Mall, but it’s Star Wars that inspired an actual religion (Jedi, for those of you wondering, and it’s apparently the fourth largest religion in Britain).

So what exactly does Star Wars in Concert entail? I later learned that the production included a humongous LED screen that played key scenes from all six movies to the movie soundtrack, played live by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and narrated live by Anthony Daniels, the voice of C-3P0 himself. There are two kinds of people in the world: those who believe this production is absolutely inane and those think it’s God’s gift to nerds everywhere.  I qualify as a member of the latter group.
Tickets to the show were a bit steep— upwards of $50. Luckily, my birthday fell on the same week as the show, and I scored a belated birthday gift from a family member. So on a bright and cold November day, two friends and I found ourselves sitting amongst thousands of Star Wars super fans, young and old— many costumed and armed with lightsabers.
For the next two hours, I found myself jetting off to a galaxy far, far away— in high definition, no less. To those that think that Star Wars in Concert is just an expensive way to watch a movie, I say, “You have much to learn, my young padawan.” The show was not about the movie scenes but the live music. From the imposing themes of the Death Star to the jovial tunes of the Mos Eisley Cantina, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra cranked out the series’ soundtrack like nobody’s businesses.
There aren’t many things more epic than the Imperial March blasting from an amalgamation of brass over an audience of thousands. Come on, guys, you know what I’m talking about; it’s the theme you play in your head every time you head to the bathroom after a burrito. Gross allusions aside, the music from Star Wars is pretty remarkable performed live. Daniels wasn’t too shabby himself. He looks exactly how you’d picture a human C-3P0: long and lean. His voice is also the same as C-3P0’s: jilted and automated with a slight British accent.

The series’ scenes were shown in theme sequence, not necessarily in chronological order. Before every song, Daniels would introduce the series of scenes that correlated with the song’s theme. For example, before the Imperial March, Daniels would share Darth Vader’s story. While the orchestra played the march, clips and scenes starring Vader would play, accompanied by a laser show and surprise spurts of fire from the stage.  From where I was sitting, the TD Garden looked full to capacity. The music may have been a source of personal pride for many of the people at the show. John Williams, the composer of Star Wars’ soundtrack, was the principal conductor of the Boston Pops for over a decade and directed the Boston Symphony Orchestra on multiple occasions.

Star Wars in Concert is much more than a way for LucasFilms to earn a few extra bucks; it is a way to relive childhood. Think of the first movie you saw that made you genuinely excited. The movie that you couldn’t wait to reenact in your living room at home after you saw it in theaters. Then imagine seeing it in all its technological glory, narrated by one of its stars. That’s what this concert was to audience members young and old.
It goes to show that you don’t have to look hard to find something you like in Boston. Lady Gaga, Weezer, Star Wars in Concert? Yes, there really is something for everyone. O