Mr. Positive and I ventured into downtown Detroit and experienced the music of John Carpenter Live this weekend. Seeing the horror master and his band perform live was an experience I will never forget. Over a dozen iconic songs from his catalogue of films and unreleased themes rocked the Majestic Theatre; a sublime sensory experience for the 400 or so in attendance. Carpenter’s music used to underscore the action he directed on screen. Now the opposite is true, as clips are projected onto a screen behind the band, supporting the action on stage.
The scene is still fresh in my mind: blue light glows and mist swirls around the band as Carpenter plays the chilling theme from The Fog on his synth/piano. The band stops playing after a single bass riff to put on their shades, then continue with the bluesy Coming to LA, from They Live. The crowd yells in defiance at the messages of “Obey”, “Money Is your God”, “Submit”, and “Consume” flash across the screen. Fans cheer and applaud the images of Harry Dean Stanton, Roddy Piper, and Donald Pleasance; making it known they are not forgotten.
The music blasted through us, connecting us all in one giant wave. The ambient sounds of Village of the Damned, Prince of Darkness, and The Thing transported us to worlds on the edge of apocalypse. The jolting, yet harmonious Halloween theme swelled, filling the room like a dark force of evil. We rocked and rolled to The Porkchop Express, In the Mouth of Madness, and Christine. A tour de force of emotion; dread, adventure, passion, and every other in between was injected into the room in just under ninety minutes. Even the anticipation before the band appeared was palpable, as fans discussed their favorite music, films, and merchandise. The “lost themes” like Vortex and Distant Dream will surely score the movies in our minds, as Carpenter put it.
Friday night was a communal gathering of The John Carpenter Society: a family coming together to pay tribute to the artistic vision of a modern renaissance man. A man whose messages resonate within our minds and hearts.
Thank you, John.