On Saturday, November 18th- (I’m late posting this, too busy stuffing my face with Thanksgiving food and all)- I had the opportunity to check out horror god John Carpenter’s Anthology Tour, where he and his band performed some of his best musical scores from his famous films, as well as his own solo compositions that are not featured (but should be!) in any major motion picture or project. As we arrived to the sold-out show at the Trocadero Theatre in Philadelphia, we waited for about 30-40 minutes, as the long line of fellow eager horror fans (all donning Halloween, The Thing, They Live, and Prince of Darkness t-shirts, of course) patiently waited 4-5 blocks away. Yes, the line to get inside stretched out for about four or five blocks away from the venue! But the wait was worth it: for about 90 minutes, we were crammed like sardines in the packed audience, as we witnessed the master at hand perform scores from Assault on Precinct 13, Escape from New York, The Fog, Village of the Damned: March of the Children, Prince of Darkness, Christine, and of course, the iconic, chilling main score from the Halloween franchise (that he apparently wrote and finished within just two weeks during production, for budgeting purposes).
As the music blared and the audience watched in awe as John played his keyboards, smiled, and danced a bit to his own compositions (as well as made devil horns with his hands to the audience, mind you 🤘🏼), movie scenes from each score that he performed played in the background, which made everyone cheer. Aside from listening to his well-known musical scores, another major highlight for me was hearing some of John’s solo songs, titled “Mystery,” “Distant Dream,” and “Vortex”- which all collectively felt like lost soundtracks of classic ’80s horror movies that should not have made the cutting room floor. What more can you ask for from a John Carpenter concert? Each solo song of his was a total musical gem.
John spoke very minimally, as he and the members of his band swiftly transitioned from song to song. I was surprised to see that his band is made up entirely of young men, including his talented son Cody Carpenter, who also plays keyboards, like his old man.
Full setlist (courtesy of setlist.fm):
- Escape From New York: Main Title
- Assault on Precinct 13: Main Title
- Village of the Damned: March of the Children
- The Fog: Main Title Theme
- They Live: Coming to L.A.
- Starman: Starman Leaves
- Big Trouble in Little China: Pork Chop Express
- Halloween Theme – Main Title
- In the Mouth of Madness: In the Mouth of Madness
- Vampires: Santiago
- Prince of Darkness: Darkness Begins
- Christine: Christine Attacks (Plymouth Fury)
To be able to have the opportunity to witness John Carpenter live- a man who produced, directed, and composed music for films that have changed the course of my life- felt surreal. It was like I had stepped inside the walls of his films. And just when I thought that he could not be more talented, seeing him perform live, especially in such an intimate setting, proved me wrong. $45 well spent. I very much look forward to seeing what John contributes to next year’s Halloween re-imagining/sequel from producers David Gordon Green and Danny McBride.