June 9, 2011

Kessel Run Diaries: My Star Wars in Concert Experience

Star Wars in Concert came to the Hollywood Bowl last weekend. It was the only stop in the United States this time, and I bought tickets as soon as I could. I’d missed the concert the last time it was around, and I refused to let the chance slip by again. It didn’t hurt that I knew someone who could get discounted tickets.

I made my way up from Hollywood & Highland to the Hollywood Bowl, and I was surrounded by groups of people armed with lightsabers and dressed in Jedi costumes. Considering the area is usually full of performers in costumes trying to make a buck from tourists, it wasn’t a given that they were going to the Star Wars concert. They kept walking up the hill though. I met up with friends who were similarly armed:

We pushed our way through the crowd pouring into the Bowl. The Force would have been helpful. I knew we needed to get to our seats, but I kept getting distracted by Stormtroopers, little girls dressed like Leia (I saw the white dress and the Hoth outfit!), and oh so much merchandise (one day I will learn to buy merch pre-concert because no one feels like stopping after. I meant to get a program and possibly an overpriced t-shirt). I was thrilled to be there, and I couldn’t stop flailing. But finally, we made it to our seats at the top of the amphitheater. We didn’t have long to wait. The orchestra took their seats, and the lights dimmed. Anthony Daniels, sans the gold suit, presided over the event and guided the audience on the journey through the six films.

The concert format was a surprise for me, and it totally worked. It loosely followed the timeline of the movies: episodes I-III before intermission and episodes IV-VI after. Each piece of music accompanied a trailer of sorts. One trailer was titled Narrow Escapes, and it had a montage of uh, narrow escapes, from all the films – like the Millennium Falcon escaping from the Death Star and the space slug. The Millennium Falcon has to make a quick getaway almost all the time. Another trailer focused on Princess Leia, one on Anakin and Padme’s forbidden love (there is almost chemistry when they don’t talk!), one on Droids, and on and on. It was a clever way to handle a vast amount of music and footage and still tell a story. My skin tingled through most of the concert, but especially in reaction to a few pieces. One of those was Duel of the Fates from Episode I: A Phantom Menace. Members of the Pasadena Pro Musica group lined the sides of the stage around the orchestra and hearing it sung live wasn’t something I’ll forget. You can listen here.

So many lightsabers!
The videos were shown on a screen behind the orchestra and on two smaller screens to either side of the stage. The images were also projected on the shell of the stage. Most impressive.  Even from my seat at the very top, I had a fantastic view. It was a perfect spot for seeing the hundreds of lightsabers in the crowd of over 17,000 fans. To be in a group of Star Wars fans and feel the enthusiasm and love for the series in the air is enough to melt the coldest Hoth heart.

The last piece of music ended, and I clapped hard enough to make my palms hurt. And then, the night took a turn for magnificent. Daniels announced that there was a special guest. Everyone collectively held their breath for the dramatic pause – the guest was John Freaking Williams. Okay, I inserted the middle name. The audience exploded in the most heartfelt and loud cheering I’ve ever experienced at a concert. Williams seemed a bit taken back by the geek love we were sending to the stage. Then he turned around and the orchestra started the beginning chords of The Imperial March. He wasn’t only there, he was conducting. I cursed in excitement and then I cried and then I sat paralyzed for three minutes. I couldn’t believe my luck – none of us could. It's John Williams CONDUCTING THE IMPERIAL MARCH for the love of Jawas! The march ended and with it the concert; my goosebumps didn’t go away for a while. In fact, I’m still tearing up thinking about that experience.

It didn’t end there! On the way out of the concert, I got to meet Laurel Woods aka Woodsy from MTV! This lady loves Star Wars and hates brunch. That’s how I knew I’d like her. Our friendship was cemented when we realized we were both wearing our Her Universe manga hoodies. Yes, we are adorable:

Check out her experience at the concert at MTV Geek.

The moral of this experience: go to a Star Wars concert if you can.  You'll have an amazing time, and you might walk away with a lifetime memory.


  1. I took my son when it was in San Diego last year! Loved it....but got goose bumps again while reading your post "John Freakin Williams"!!!!!! So exciting and meeting Woodsy too! What a night!

  2. Now that I know how wonderful/epic/insert other adjectives Star Wars in Concert is, I'll never miss it again if I can help it! What an experience.

  3. I missed it when it played over here in the UK. Gutted.

  4. I have been tiny bit familiar of this your broadcast provided bright clear concept...


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