The real star of epic, glorious finale was actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. An eye-opening surprise, Gordon-Levitt emoted the flowing poetry of the album’s opener “Melody” with such impressive character and skill, girls could literally be heard screaming in enjoyment. Meldal-Johnsen took the song’s fantastic snake-like bassline and developed it out as backbone of the booming orchestra rock copied so heartily by artists for decades. Victoria Legrand poked out just on the far side of stage right to perfectly coo the delicate question and answer refrain with Gordon-Levitt, “What’s your name? Melody. Melody what? Melody Nelson.” It was enough to give you chills. The evening’s performers took turns on the short numbers in between the song’s majectic bookends. Lennon and Muhl returned for “La ballade de Melody Nelson,” the colorful arrangements showing off the best details of the Hollywood Bowl’s lavish orchestra. Muhl stayed on without Lennon for “Valse de Melody.”
Beck faired better than his earlier numbers on “Ah! Melody,” his plaintive delivery carrying the proper weight Gainsbourg crafted on the original. Mike Patton was next, taking “L’hotel Particulier” the part of the story where Gainsbourg takes the album’s 15-year-old namesake to a hotel to its menacing extreme. Zola Jesus cackled and jumped through “En Melody,” which might sound strange, except for the fact that is essentially how it sounded on the original album. The show ended with force and power, Gordon-Levitt resuming his post for “Cargo Culte,” the album’s coda and escalating crescendo. The band took the music to its swelling culmination, the choir harmonized notes in magnificent angelic tones, Gordon-Levitt calmly spoke and the whole piece built to its enrapturing end. Much like the album itself, the music evokes the sterling taste of something so beautiful its memory transcends even the memory of when it first transpired. Like a love affair lost and never completed, the piece is twenty-nine minutes you wish was two hundred and ninety minutes.