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The shows were “unforgettable”, but perhaps not in the way advertised (Image: Archi Banal)

Pop CultureMay 18, 2023

Were these the worst concerts… of all time?

Posts for the music of hans zimmer and the music of the lord of the rings
The shows were “unforgettable”, but perhaps not in the way advertised (Image: Archi Banal)

Walk outs, social media rants and even tears. Musical tributes to Hans Zimmer and Lord of the Rings have left fans in Wellington outraged. Just how bad were they?

It’s been reported this week that dozens of people walked out of live performances at the Wellington Opera House and are now demanding refunds. The events in question were both musical tributes, one to Hans Zimmer, composer of some of the greatest movie soundtracks in recent memory, and the other to the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. Negative feedback for the shows was plastered across Reddit and Facebook, and reported on by Stuff, twice

There was a similar tribute earlier in the week to Harry Potter as well, and while by all accounts it was still bad, it wasn’t bad enough to incur the same online wrath. 

While The Spinoff wasn’t actually in the room for any of these shows, and requests for comment to the event’s overseas promoter, Star Entertainment, seem unlikely to be answered, a Ticketmaster spokesperson has confirmed that complaints have been laid. Meanwhile, Consumer NZ said that fans could potentially have a legal avenue to follow with apparent breaches of the Consumer Guarantees Act and Fair Trading Act.

But what was actually so bad about them? Were they truly the worst concerts of all time? Let’s assess what we know.

Attendees of the Lord of the Rings tribute went in expecting this…

Tickets were very expensive

Someone I spoke to said they coughed up about $150 per concert (yes, they attended both the Hans Zimmer and Lord of the Rings tributes, which was clearly a mistake). Paying a lot for a concert means you’ll hopefully be walking out after 90 minutes proudly telling everyone that you “got your money’s worth”. But in this case the attendee I spoke to instead said they were “pissed”.

The events were promoted as an ‘unforgettable audiovisual event for all’

One Reddit user succinctly described the Lord of the Rings tribute show thus: “Wtf were those bagpipes. Wtf were those visuals.” In a way this sounds like it did meet the brief for both “unforgettable” and “audiovisual”.

An attendee told Stuff they had been promised lasers and movie footage throughout the Hans Zimmer event, which did not happen. The Lord of the Rings event, meanwhile, included “AI-generated film scenes displaying… lookalike landscapes,” it was reported.

… what they got was more like this (read more on the Soviet Lord of the Rings here)

The Lord of the Rings event featured filmed guest appearances from series star Christopher Lee…

…who died seven years ago. 

Overseas reports claimed the videos of Lee were edited to make it seem like he was introducing particular songs. “You could tell he was saying something more and editing had cut around us,” an attendee said. “He obviously died long before this tour even started.”

It started by asking audience members to ‘Please stand for the national anthem… of Mordor’

Which was actually the national anthem of Russia? (Apparently many of the show’s performers are from Ukraine, which would make playing the national anthem of Russia even darker).

There was a singalong at the Hans Zimmer show

But it wasn’t spontaneous. According to Stuff, attendees at the Hans Zimmer tribute were encouraged to join in with a karaoke rendition of ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ (very much not a Hans Zimmer composition), but no one obliged. “I couldn’t even realise how cringe it was because I was so gobsmacked, they tried repeatedly to get the crowd to sing along and not a single person was having it,” one attendee said.

Another described it as “bad cruise ship karaoke” and labelled the entire event a “scam”.

They’ve been denounced by Lord of the Rings composer Howard Shore

As the Herald reported, Shore warned fans not to attend any of the unauthorised concerts. “The music that is being played is assembled from unauthorised bootleg arrangements and not at the standard of quality insisted upon by Howard Shore,” a post shared to the composer’s website claimed. There is a lawsuit already under way.

A lot of people walked out at the intermission

“We left before intermission. I made a right racket dropping a water bottle,” said one Reddit user of the Lord of the Rings show. “I couldn’t get over the drummer. The national anthem thing too… Wtf. It could have been soooo good. But it was small, tacky, cheap, awkward, out of time and tune at points. Overall yikes.”

Another added: “If you left at the intermission you missed the bagpipes coming out at the end again and playing the same song, complete with the guy trying and failing to get a hand wave going.”

It was so bad it brought at least one attendee to tears

“These tickets were a gift for my partner’s birthday,” one Redditor said. “He wrote a dissertation on [Lord of the Rings], his first vinyl was Howard Shore, we met working at Hobbiton Movie Set – and he left crying at intermission at how off the mark this was. I’ve seen him cry once before in our three year relationship.”

The song choices were… unusual

Some people like to hear the deep cuts at a concert, but the setlist for both these tribute events sounds especially unique. “I paid for them not to play any of the Dark Knight songs but give me multiple Da Vinci Code songs and do Circle of Life twice,” said one person who went to the Hans Zimmer tribute. 

And along with the aforementioned double dose of bagpipes, The Lord of the Rings show reportedly also included “some bullshit song about eagles”.

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