Reviews | Written by John Townsend 28/09/2016


As the lights dimmed, and the audience shuffled expectantly, the musicians on stage prepared themselves. Arms aloft, conductor Gavin Greenaway signalled his troops, and unleashed a breath-taking, cacophonous sound as the silence ruptured, giving way to the famous opening bars of the Twentieth Century Fox music. The aliens were back, and Independence Day Live had begun.

As an opener to kick off a new programme of films backed by a live orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall, Independence Day was the perfect choice. In his pre-screening interview composer David Arnold highlighted this as a true ‘event’ movie and on the massive screen, supported by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with a little help from the Maida Vale singers, it proved to be just that. No-one in the beautiful surroundings will have failed to have been moved by the wave upon wave of sublime sound that added further grandeur to the scenes being played out on the screen; the destruction of some of the United States most iconic buildings has never before sounded this good. At times, even some of the dialogue was drowned out by the furious playing of the orchestra, but in truth, that didn’t matter.

Seeing a film in this way is a version of cinema unlike any other. Much more so than for a standard screening, it is a film and score in harmony, perfectly matched to give the audience the maximum possible experience more akin to the true vision of composer and director. As a venue for Independence Day’s 20th Anniversary, the Royal Albert Hall, with its UFO-esque acoustic adornments also takes some beating!

If you haven’t yet enjoyed watching a film backed by an orchestra, then may we recommend you check out the availability of such evenings right away? It is an extraordinary experience almost overwhelming in its scale and awe-inspiring for its sense of drama. Whatever sound system you have at home, it will pale into mediocrity after an evening such as this; trust us – nothing will ever sound the same again.