John Carpenter

Stuart Holmes worships the master of horror live in
Liverpool Music Week

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John Carpenter has an ear for all things eerie. The American master of horror is responsible for directing many cult classics of the 1970s and 1980s – including The Fog and Big Trouble In Little China – to which he added his signature blend of chilling chords and suspenseful synths.

Tonight’s show is both part of a world tour and a headline slot for Liverpool Music Week. The queue snakes around the venue in anticipation. Carpenter provides no support act – nobody could carry the weight on their shoulders.

The concise performance covers his back catalogue of film scores whilst showcasing a selection of Lost Themes, recently released as two separate collections.

He emerges from the shadows of the stage dressed in black, accompanied by his band, which features his son Cody on lead synthesisers. He addresses the crowd in his Los Angeles drawl before leading the slow march of Escape from New York’s main theme, which begins the show as triumphantly as the film itself ends.

The tension rises as the unnerving theme from Halloween is flawlessly brought to life, just days before the festivities of the day itself take place. The score’s uneven piano notes act as nervous footsteps, running away from the menacing synths, which creep increasingly closer.

The new material, without accompanying film footage, follows a tried and tested formula. It further highlights Carpenter’s natural ability to encapsulate emotion with minimal arrangements and leaves fans yearning for more directorial work.

Carpenter’s movement on stage is understandably nominal, and his dialogue between songs disappointingly scripted, but his mere presence is nevertheless compelling. Both his cinematic and musical output over recent decades have been highly influential. It is a privilege to witness both elements of his work being brought together in perfect unison.

During the theme from They Live, on the projection screen behind the band, the words ‘This Is Your God” flash up in a large font, amongst many other slogans from the film. For a brief moment, within the ornate setting of the Olympia Theatre, the audience collectively gaze eyes upon Carpenter in worship.

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John Carpenter

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