Gig review: Danny Elfman, Glasgow Hydro

The Glasgow Hydro. Picture: Robert Perry
The Glasgow Hydro. Picture: Robert Perry
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The inaugural orchestral concert in Glasgow’s huge new saucer of a music venue felt appositely Tim Burton, bringing to mind his 1950s schlock sci-fi tribute Mars Attacks! Danny Elfman has scored all but two of the director’s films and the twisted, strange but evocative fruit of their partnership was abundantly evident this evening.

Danny Elfman’s music from the films of Tim Burton - Glasgow Hydro

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Realised by the BBC Concert Orchestra and the Maida Vale Singers choir, under the baton of John Mauceri, the soundtracks were sparingly accompanied by clips from the films. But there was also the director’s conceptual art, in all the freakish familiarity of his idiosyncratic style. From their original collaboration, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, in 1985, former Oingo Boingo frontman Elfman has proved himself gifted at composing for, and now arranging, the scenes of intricate, junk-built contraptions that characterise films like Frankenweenie and Batman Returns. Still, Gothic remains the abiding mood of Burton’s films and several of the evening’s highlights, from an appropriately choppy violin solo for Edward Scissorhands and the ominous percussion of Batman, achieved both magic and darkness. The little green men from Mars foregrounded the otherworldly swoops of the theremin, while the Planet of the Apes remake prompted a crashing-through-undergrowth accompaniment. Striking though Burton’s sketches remain however, it nevertheless felt as if the visuals could have been beefed up, the better to appreciate the stirring music.