Brighton was a late addition to the tour and so it was that the Master of Horror, John Carpenter made his UK concert debut at the (allegedly haunted) Brighton Dome. Carpenter scored nearly all of his classic films so the show was sure to be packed with crowd-pleasing spine-tinglers.
This proved to be the case as the maestro and his five piece band shuffled onstage and fired off the opening chords of Escape From New York which was enhanced with a selection of scenes on the big screen behind them. The minimalist keyboard parts even allowed him to play with one hand in his pocket.
Unmistakable with his snow white hair tied back he nonetheless introduced himself after the dark and brooding Assault On Precinct 13 title theme, with the film’s best scenes getting as much applause as the music. He was clearly enjoying himself judging by his dance moves.
A couple of selections from ‘Lost Themes 1’ had the trademark Carpenter sound with ‘Mystery’ incorporating elements of the Germanic Bowie/Eno period which grew into a grandiose full band attack with soaring guitars. The Fog’s melodic music box theme was punctuated with deep synth splurges as we watched the locals getting dispatched by ghostly mariners. There was a great comedy moment when They Live was stopped short after a few notes for Carpenter to don his sunglasses to check for any skull-faced aliens in the crowd and to read the subliminal propaganda messages that Roddy Piper was discovering in the clips. Carpenter’s son Cody added some jazzy noodlings alongside the jagged guitar work.
The only non-Carpenter piece came with Ennio Morricone’s theme from the remake of The Thing which brought a change of pace and style as it played over the visceral special effects scenes. The biggest cheers came with Big Trouble In Little China and, of course, Halloween, with its repetitive piano, shimmering hi hat and sinister chords the perfect background to Jamie Lee Curtis crying and running away from Michael Myers.
The show ended with a four song encore that began with the choral voicings of Prince Of Darkness and completed by Carpenter advising us to “please drive carefully, Christine is out there” as Arnie Cunningham’s four wheeled beauty wiped out the local bullies. A great end to an excellent multimedia show.
Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Thursday 20th November 2016
Words by Steve Clements