War of the Worlds

Got a phone call the other day, a friend trying to offload a spare ticket for Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds at the SECC tonight… yes please!

LP cover I got the “Jeff Wayne’s musical version of the War of the World” LP when I was in my teens (yes, back in the days of vinyl) and played it to death, staring at every detail of the artwork that went with it. According to Wikipedia (so it must be true), the album spent 290 weeks in the UK album charts. That was about where it ended for me, I was vaguely interested when I heard that there was a live show a couple of years ago but didn’t think much about it till I got that call and decided to go.

poster

This is the first all seated gig I’ve been to at the SECC. This was also the first gig I’ve been to with full surround sound, one 30m screen that covers the full width of the stage and used 8 projectors to create a seamless multi layered effects. My first gig with both an orchestra and rock band or with singers and actors appearing on stage and on screen. It was this integration between the live action and special effects happening on stage and the film and animation on screen that blew me away. When the Martian heat ray appeared on screen lights scanned the audience, focusing and switching to red, as London burned on screen flames appear across the front of the stage and a full scale Marian tripod appears on stage with explosions on it as the humans try in vain to fight back.

The deep tones of Richard Burton’s naration on the original album was always one of the things that carried it and the CGI disembodied face was a fantastic way of not trying to replace this part with an actor. The ‘holographic projection’ of this I’m not so sure about, looked fairly 2D to me, but it still fitted the part and was an interesting way of doing this character who does occasionally interact with other characters in the story. Difficult to do for a massive face floating somewhere off stage right, but they made it work!

This is a great show! The music in “Jeff Wayne’s musical version of the War of the World” is 70’s, concept album, prog-rock stuff, which I like anyway. But simply from a theatrical experience point of view the way this is staged and performed is incredible and well worth catching.

The Official site has some great pictures and video. I was going to link a youtube video, but most of them are from the last tour and Richard Burton has been much improved!

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