It is said that the soundtrack for a film is its oxygen, and that is certainly true for the 1985 classic ‘Back To The Future‘ which was composed by Alan Silvestri. The main theme is one of the most iconic in film history, and the ones by Huey Lewis & The News are pretty famous too.
Promotion for such events is all done online these days with the algorithm deciding who to target, and I was very much part of that so when I saw adverts for this concert on social media it was hard to miss. My wife and I were keen to see it so we bought some tickets but they didn’t come cheap though and were priced at 10,000 yen each!
The doors opened at NHK Hall on Friday 22nd July at 5:30 but this was not like a sports match or a music concert where you see many fans descending on the venue in their droves. Only when we got outside the hall in Shibuya Ward did we really see any fans! There were some cosplayers outside so I couldn’t resist such a photo opportunity.
Having made our way in (including the temperature check which is customary these days) we found our seat on a second floor map layout. It was close to the front on the right side so it was a pretty good view to be fair.
There was another cosplayer inside providing me with yet another photo opportunity I couldn’t ignore.
We went to check out the merchandise but it was all rather limited, overly priced and didn’t even include anything exclusive to the “In Concert” theme! CD soundtracks for the films were being sold for just under 2000 yen, and were being snapped up by customers who must be oblivious to the fact that you can get them in second hand stores or online for a fraction of that price!
A decade ago I saw ‘Star Wars in Concert‘ at Tokyo International Forum but that was just a compilation of themes composed by John Williams whereas ‘Back To The Future‘ is different in style as it includes singing on tracks, so we really didn’t know what to expect beforehand. I thought it might just be the Alan Silvestri scored tracks from all three movies played by an orchestra with movie clips or photographic images on screen.
All we knew was that it was going to be performed by the Kanagawa Philharmonic Orchestra and that the conductor was called Ichiro Saito.
The show began right on 6:30 pm as planned and inevitably the main theme kicked things off. I really wasn’t expecting to see the whole film but seeing the conductor sit down when Marty was late for school (and ‘The Power of Love‘ plays) finally made me realise we’d be there for at least two hours.
You do kind of end up just watching the film and almost forget you’re at a concert with the soundtrack being produced by an orchestra beneath the screen! I tried my best to focus more on the musicians but it never lasted too long. I was later surprised to see there was an intermission which happened just after the 1955 skateboard scene. I’m not sure if this was announced before the movie began but if it was then I sure missed it!
After a 20 mins break the second half started with the ‘Back To The Future Part III‘ (1990) main theme and then it was back into the movie. I can’t be 100% sure but it seems that some of the music played was not in the film and was something of a reimagining and reworking of the soundtrack. For example, ‘Earth Angel‘ had a new orchestral score over the top of it at the dramatic part in the film. Also, there was an alternative score at the end too instead of Huey Lewis’ ‘Back In Time‘.
As the applause went on and on after the end credits had rolled the conductor exited the stage but then came back (as the clapping continued) in a Marty McFly outfit with guitar and conducted the orchestra for an encore of the main theme and the part 3 theme.
For a trilogy of films that are over 30 years old it is quite amazing that they keep finding new ways to produce new content in order to bring it to a new generation of fans. There were many kids in attendance with their parents which was good to see. Whether it be the Secret Cinema (which we went to in London in 2014), a concert of the soundtrack, the musical (now playing in the UK) or just some conventions featuring the stars, it looks like there’s plenty of milage left in this franchise.
Click here to read ‘Star Wars: In Concert Live In Tokyo’
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Click here to read `Great Scott! Back To The Future Legends Appear At HollyCon Tokyo #18`
Click here to read ‘Dining Out: Back To The Future Cafe In Ikebukuro’
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