After meeting some friends for dinner around 6:00 PM, we arrived in line around 7:00 PM, and already there were at least one hundred people in front of us. This first show was sold out, so we expected a crowd. After waiting in line for an hour and talking with other fans in line, we were let in around 8:00 PM, and ran as close to the front as we could, standing about 3-4 rows of people back…all in all, a good vantage point (except for the SUPER tall guy in front of me).
Around 8:30 PM, James Callis came on stage…okay, now that the fangirls are done squeeing (and I’ve wiped the blood from my ears), I’ll continue. James was looking dapper as usual, and seemed very happy to see all of us. He thanked all of us for coming, and then introduced the band of Bear McCreary’s brother Brendan (who sang "All Along the Watchtower" in season 3’s final episode), simply called Brendan’s Band.
Brendan’s Band played a set of about ten to twelve songs, all of which were quite enjoyable. He was joined by the guitar player and violin player who also play on all of the BSG tracks. The music was somewhat folky mixed with rock for a fun, light sound that I liked a lot. I’ll probably be picking up his CD at some point in the future, and will definitely be checking out his future shows.
Once Brendan’s Band played for about thirty minutes, James Callis came back out and introduced Bear McCreary and the Battlestar Band, to the thunderous roar of the audience (myself included). The set began with "A Distant Sadness", and immediately one could feel the power of the music. This song included vocals from a lovely singer who’s name I didn’t catch (and who showed up later to do one of my favorite tracks, "Lords of Kobol"). "A Distant Sadness" begins slowly and builds in power and orchestration right at the end, and watching Bear conduct as well as play the keyboard was a sight to see.
The next song was "Precipice", also from season three. This song features a lot of acoustic guitar (played by Bear’s brother Brendan) and a slow building of drums. The drums are one of my favorite things in BSG’s music, and they were played wonderfully in this song. Next up was the lovely, string-heavy "Roslin and Adama", a subdued and sweet piece that provided a moment of calm before the next stirring number.
"Wander, My Friends" was first heard in the episode, "Hand of God" and has been used throughout all four seasons. The version here wasn’t simply the track from the album, however, but a compilation of all of the versions played up until the most recent episode, "Six of One". This is one of my favorite themes on any of the albums, and it was delight to see it played live. Another musician who played the Scottish pipes used in this track was brought out for this number, which began slowly and gained in both power and strength, until we were all swept up in its beauty and grace. This, we were told, was not only the first time they had played this arrangement, but was also the definitive arrangement of the song, according to Bear McCreary.
Next up was the drum-heavy "Fight Night", a wonderfully strong and powerful track that included the Taiko drums, which are used in much of BSG’s music, to wonderful effect. This was an emotional track that really got under my skin. I could almost feel the energy and raw emotion present in this track.
The next song was both a surprise and a treat. James Callis came back up on stage to sing an original song he wrote entitled, "Spooky" that was meant to be used in a BSG episode, but never was. I couldn’t understand the words at all, sadly, but thankfully I stole the lyrics sheet off the keyboard, once the show was over. 😉 The song itself was written by James Callis and arranged by Bear McCreary, and as I read the lyrics it’s hard to know what they’re about, in all honesty. I won’t repost them for the sake of privacy, but I’ll post a clip…
James Callis played keyboard on the number, and it was a really fun song. After "Spooky" was over, the Battlestar Band began playing "Gina Escapes", a lovingly ethereal number that starts softly and builds with increasing drums, then quiets down again near the end. The final track of the first set was "Black Market", an amazingly rocking tune (and the best thing to come out of the episode, in my opinion) that starts softly, but builds with electric guitars and heavy drums. The band really got into this number, as did we. This was probably one of my favorite tracks of the night.
During the break, an exclusive documentary was shown that portrayed some behind-the-scenes antics of Bear McCreary and crew. It was actually a parody, as several members of the cast, including James Callis, Edward James Olmos, Jamie Bamber and Katie Sackhoff acted like they had no idea who Bear McCreary was. Also shown was Jane Espenson, who stated that a bear who could write music must be "the most talented bear in the world." This documentary was comical, hilarious, and totally fictional.
After the documentary, the Battlestar Band returned with "A Promise to Return", which begins softly with strings and then slowly builds to a loving crescendo, but still retains its softness throughout. Next up was "Baltar’s Dream", which begins with a very low, ethereal violin track which built until the rest of the band jumped in, adding to the beautiful chaos of the song.
This was followed by "Wayward Soldier", a piece dotted with lots of strings making for a lovely, yet tense number. This, like many o
f the numbers, begins softly, building the tension until the rest of the band brings it to a crescendo, only to release the tension and let us go a bit by softening the song up again…but not as much as in the beginning.
The next track was a favorite of most folks, myself included. "Something Dark is Coming", is a very ethereal track beginning simply with bass and electric guitar. Slowly the drums build a bit and strings are brought in slightly, while still retaining focus on the electric guitar and the bass that are prevalent throughout the song. This song was very moving to hear live, and put me in almost a zen-like state of peacefulness…even in the middle of a crowded Hollywood club. This is a testament not only to the music itself, but to the musicians playing it in front of me.
The next song, "Dirty Hands", begins with a nearly Western-style acoustic guitar riff. Slowly the drums build, adding to the energy. When the song is about to build to a crescendo…it lets go for a moment, reverting back to the simplicity found in the beginning of the song. It then, however, builds into an even larger crescendo near the end before finally letting us go to relax a moment.
For the next song of the evening, the singer from earlier was once again brought out to help perform one of my all-time favorite tracks, entitled "Lords of Kobol". This song begins with a very simple vocal piece, followed by heavy drum and electric guitars. This is a song that REALLY gets the energy going, and did so last night. I’ve listened to this song over and over on the soundtrack, probably more than most other tracks…yet to see it performed live, to hear it and feel its raw energy come right at me from mere feet away was just astounding.
The next — and supposed final — song of the evening was a mix of the two tracks, "Heeding the Call" and "All Along the Watchtower". This was a very powerful piece that merged two disparate pieces into one cohesive whole, and did so with skill, precision and style. I could feel the energy building in the air during "Heeding the Call", which built to a near fever pitch until Brendan McCreary broke in with his rendition of "All Along the Watchtower", which retained the power that had been built up during "Heeding the Call". The electricity in the air from this track as well as those before it had built to such a level that it was almost palatable.
Once they were done, they all bowed to our thunderous applause and wandered off stage. Some folks left at this point, but the rest of us stuck around and began chanting "So say we all" as our own version of chanting "Encore!" over and over. Eventually the band came back out and played what I believe was "Black Market" once again, even harder than the first time, to our delight.
After that final song, we left the Roxy at about 11:45 PM, over three hours after first setting foot in the club. Personally, as I was leaving the club, I felt like I had just witnessed something…magical. I know that word might sound corny, but I’d rarely, if ever been so moved at a live musical performance as I was at this concert. The musicians were such professionals that, even if they missed a beat none of us noticed. The music itself was sublime. If I only have one disappointment of the evening, is that they didn’t play "Pegasus", which is my all-time favorite track on all four of the soundtracks.
So, I’ve tried my best to convey the beauty of what was a sublimely audible experience in a purely written fashion, and I hope I’ve succeeded. The Music of Battlestar Galactica concert was an amazing event, one that was worth every sore muscle in my feet and legs (from standing for over four hours). I can only hope they decide to put on more of these, because I’d love to see this more often, even after the show ends next year.
To see the entire Music of Battlestar Galactica Concert photo album, click here.