THE WAR OF THE WORLDS LIVE ON STAGE
NEWCASTLE DECEMBER 8TH 2007
Along with my website colleague, Brendan (Poyks) and some of our friends, I was lucky enough to attend the Newcastle show as the guest of Jeff Wayne and Damian Collier, the show’s Producers.
Having been a fan of the album for (can it really be 30 years next year?) I was, understandably (I’m sure other fans will know what I mean) hyped to see the show again. To my mind, there’s nothing quite like having the opportunity to see this great work performed LIVE by a dedicated and passionate group of musicians and artists and to be in the company of so many other fans under one roof.
After a cheeky beer in the foyer of the Arena (and attempting to dry off after having been caught in the rain on the journey in), we went to our seats to watch the show, accompanied by the pulsing sound of ‘ULLAdubULLA Deconstructed’.
A display on the giant screens showed what was seen as the Martian camera ‘scanned’ the audience, as all took their seats and one or two wags milked their few seconds of fame for all they were worth, drawing some laughs and applause from the rest of the audience.
Then, the lights dimmed and the members of the ‘ULLAdubULLA’ strings took their places, followed by the ‘Black Smoke Band’, all to great applause.
Jeff himself came last (but not least!) in a natty new outfit and took his place, to the sound of cheering from all present, at his podium.
Rather than recount the entire show, I will talk, now, about some of the differences I noticed between this new Tour and the 2006 Tour (and there were quite a few!)
The first, perhaps most obvious, difference is the new hologram Richard Burton. This new technology breathes new life into the Journalist. He turns and ‘talks to’ the artists on stage he interacts with. He runs the gamut of facial expressions as he talks, from horror to disgust and everywhere in between.
There were several tweaks to the CGI and new smoke and light effects that make it, in places, appear that the cast are performing in a smoking, smouldering ruin.
The Artilleryman has a new, much improved, bridge from which to tempt us with his vision of his ‘Brave New World’. Alexis, as always, was amazing and has, without a doubt, completely made the part of The Artilleryman his own.
John Payne, as the Parson, gives a new, exciting ‘rock’ edge to the part and Sinead Quinn, as Beth, offers a quiet strength in trying to convince her shattered husband that all is not lost.
Another innovation (which many I spoke to LOVED), was the dance that the members of the ‘ULLAdubULLA’ strings did as they played during the encores. Jeff told me later that this was, in fact, the idea of the players themselves! They asked Jeff if they could do it for the first show of the Tour and they’ve kept it in since!
Special mentions go to the amazing members of the ‘Black Smoke Band’ (some, like Herbie Flowers and Chris Spedding are veterans of the original album) and especially the lovely Julia Thornton, who many have admired for her spirited and entertaining playing of the percussion and harp.
Thanks for reading my, brief, review. In the next part, I will talk about the Aftershow…
Le Grand Fromage! (Le New Generation!)