Thursday, November 14, 2013

Danny Elfman's Music from the Films of Tim Burton @ The Nokia Theatre, Los Angeles. 10-30-13.

Danny Elfman, the musical genius and magic ginger behind more classic tunes than should be humanly possible took the stage last month for the first time in 18 years. Yes, the man behind Oingo Boingo, The Simpsons theme and one of the most popular film composers of all time came out of self imposed (concert) exile and shared the stage with The Hollywood Symphonic Orchestra and the Page L.A. Choir, performing music from his collaborations with director Tim Burton.

Think about that one folks. Burton and Elfman have been collaborating together for over 25 years. Just about every major film in Burton's career has been brought to life by Elfman's musical prowess. I think it's fair to say that Elfman's music is as important to those films as the actors themselves. When you close your eyes and think of the original Batman, do you not hear Elfman's epic score running pulsating through your head?

Burton's Joker
The orchestra and choir performed amazing renditions of Elfman's music throughout the evening. The crowd went ballistic (well as crazy as one can get in such a soulless venue like Nokia) during the scores from Burton classic's like Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Mars Attacks and Batman & Batman Returns  You could literally feel the floor shake from the rumbling orchestra during the Batman medley, and a pin drop from the eerie silence from Mars Attacks awesome theremin intro. While the music pumped through the air one note at a time via the pros onstage, video clips and original concept art/sketches from each film were projected on giant screens for all to see. Despite the abundance of Johnny Depp and his silly faces, this gave the illusion that we were peeping behind the curtain so to speak, watching these beloved classics of cinema being constructed from the ground up. 

After a brief intermission the orchestra began the night's second act and most anticipated part of the evening. They led with the underwhelming scores from Planet of the Apes, Corpse Bride and Dark Shadows (film's so blah the best music in the world couldn't save them) before playing the cutesy tunes from Frankenweenie , and the holy shit this is amazing combo of Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Scissorhands featured a gnarly violin solo that would have had Beetlejuice honk tonkin' in style, as well as the most powerful moments of the evening. The choir and orchestra working in tandem brought the melancholy and majesty of the film's "Ice Dance" scene to life, coupled with Winona Ryder's gorgeous mug on the was beautiful.

Then, it finally happened. They went into the Nightmare portion of the evening and everyone geeked the fuck out. The man himself, Danny Elfman finally took the stage and began singing Jack Skellington's parts from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Yes, the Pumpkin King performed live before my very eyes and it was the raddest thing I've ever seen. Elfman is such a passionate performer, he was physically reenacting Jack's movements as he sang to the point where he literally was Jack Skellington onstage. I'm curious if he's been singing "What's This?" in the shower for the past twenty years because the man did not miss a beat. Actress Catherine O' Hara, the original voice of Sally (also, Delia from Beetljuice and Kevin McCallister's mom in Home Alone) made a surprise appearance and sang "Sally's Song," for which she received a standing ovation from the sold out crowd. Elfman finished his run of songs from Nightmare and took a bow onstage before returning for a surprise rendition of Oogie Boogie's Song, which was extra amazing because even though he wrote the tune, Elfman didn't provide the singing voice for Oogie Boogie in the film, so no one had ever heard him perform it before.

To say that the final performance of Alice In Wonderland's score was anticlimactic would be an understatement. I spent most all of the final set thinking about the spectacular Nightmare and Scissorhands renditions from earlier. Would I have liked Elfman to speak more and interact with the orchestra like Clint Mansell did earlier this year? Yeah of course, but am I beyond stoked that Elfman decided to perform onstage with such world class musicians behind him? Yeah dude..yeah. All in all, this was an amazing night that I still can't believe took place. Danny Elfman, you rule the universe my friend.


  1. Insane man, I knew the minute I read the title that this was going to be something that you would love more than anything, so glad to hear that it went well buddy and you had a blast, you're lucky to live in LA!

  2. I'm jealous. I was IN LOS ANGELES trying to find awesome stuff like this and it just didn't come to me. I did try, really did. I'm just not the cool native with all the know-how. Pfsh.

  3. "…so no one had ever heard him perform it before." Well, not entirely true. ;-)
    Track #27:

    But it was no less amazing to hear. That concert was one of the greatest highlights of my life. Great review of the night.