Embarking on a major European tour this autumn is celebrated Hollywood composer James Newton Howard, his first stop being the prestigious Royal Albert Hall in London’s Kensington. Howard has scored over 150 productions in a thirty-plus year career in the film and TV industry, kicking off with the 1990 romantic comedy Pretty Woman. His ‘greatest hits’ tour is a celebration of his career so far, and we caught him as he fired up the Royal Academy of Music Orchestra and Crouch End Festival Chorus at the Albert Hall on the first night his multiple-date trip, which will also take in the likes of Austria, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. The James Newton Howard concert, reviewed at the Royal Albert Hall, London on 3rd November 2017.

James Newton Howard concert
James Newton Howard concert

James Newton Howard Concert – 30 Years Of Music For Hollywood

The evening kicked off with a pleasing introduction by the man himself in front of a sold-out Royal Albert Hall, the auditorium packed to the rafters of movie lovers, and the opening number of the night didn’t disappoint – the main theme from one of Howard’s most recent efforts Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. The entrancing theme was accompanied by a glittering light display, which magically set things up for the evening’s entertainment.

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Music from some of Howard’s most famous movies followed in the first half, notably the mega hit series The Hunger Games, Snow White & The Huntsman, Wyatt Earp, and a medley of musical scores from his collaborations with M. Night Shyamalan, who Howard has worked with on all his Hollywood movies. The orchestra was accompanied by a big-screen front and centre in the hall, edited footage projected on to it from the productions being featured in Howard’s glowing arsenal of movie scores.

In between, Howard took to the microphone to hare anecdotes of his years spent in the Hollywood limelight – from humble beginnings working on film called ‘3000’, which would later be titled Pretty Woman, Howard’s launchpad into his multiple decade career, and the first of many Julia Roberts rom-coms/ dramas, which would later include My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Runaway Bride and Dying Young.

Related: Jaws Live, Royal Albert Hall, London

A highlight of the evening was Howard leaning over a piano recalling his early work with a certain Elton John, an artist he would work with in the 1970s and early 80s, playing keyboards in John’s band, and then arranging strings for several of Elton’s songs, including the hits “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” and “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word”. His collaborations with the flamboyant music legend would provide the foundations for his later work, some of which we were treated to in the stronger second half of this greatest hits show; music from the likes of Peter Jackson’s King Kong, the Julia Roberts years, and a rousing encore featuring music from Disney’s very first live-action adaptation, Maleficent.

James Newton Howard – 30 Years Of Music For Hollywood, as it is officially titled, is a wonderful evening in great company, one with an overwhelming concert-feeling, but also intimidate in its delivery, with a host openly grateful of a long career at the top of his game, truly humbled by the continuous, warm response from his audience throughout this excellent stage show.

James Newton Howard – 30 Years Of Music For Hollywood tours through Europe for the rest of November. More info can be found on the James Newton Howard concert tour page on his official website.