Friday, April 12, 2013

Then "WALLOP!" Our Turn To Do Some Wiping Out!

As part of my birthday prezzies this week from my lovely wife, I was treated to an evening of Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of The Worlds. Something I've always been intrigued with seeing as a live production but we've never managed to make it to any of the actual concerts.

Thanks to the recent trend in showing theatre productions in cinemas, last year we managed to see the rather cool production of Frankenstein with the legendary casting of both Sherlocks, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller. An amazing bit of acting by all involved (when we saw it, Cumberbatch was Victor, Miller was the creature), and I'm stunned it hasn't been released on DVD yet.

After the success of seeing that in the cinema, we were intrigued to see that they were showing a recording of Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds in cinemas.

Jeff Wayne conducts War of the Worlds live on stage

I'd always loved that album. I have distinct memories of the record, dating right back to primary school. It was part of the school's routine that each class had to host and sometimes "perform" the school assemblies. I remember distinctly that we hosted one demonstrating basic first aid and after the assembly I had to fake passing out in the crowd to see if the rest of the children had taken in the information... they just really ignored me...

Anyway, I have a memory of standing in assembly and one of the other classes was putting on their presentation and while we were waiting for the talking to start and for all of the classes to arrive, they were playing The Eve of the War. I'd never heard anything like it before, and I was fascinated. I asked the others in my class what it was, and one of my friends (though I use the term lightly as he did make part of my school life miserable) identified the record as he had it.

The "Dead London" image from the LP booklet. Always held a
morbid fascination with me as a kid.
It was immediately on my birthday requests. I think it was the only thing I asked for that year, and was my main birthday present. Two glorious LPs worth of it, with a book with all of the lyrics and pages of awesome artwork. Mum didn't understand why I would want such a thing, she couldn't see why I'd want a record of someone telling me the story of War of the Worlds. Of course, the moment she heard it, she realised - it became one of her favourite albums ever.

I had a poster magazine as well. Remember those? I still have loads of poster magazines (probably worth nothing now as the posters took their turns decorating my bedroom walls) from various movies, from the first Star Wars, through Tron, Indiana Jones, and Ghostbusters... But I remember I had the second issue of the War of the Worlds poster magazine. I loved that magazine, as it had blueprints for the Fighting Machine. Typically, I took it to school one day, and it was gone.

Blueprints of the Fighting Machine from the poster magazine.

Wherever you are, I'd like it back (even though it's almost 30 years later...)

Anyway, that album was always one of my prized possessions. Not worth anything except sentimental value, I do still have that double album. I have it on CD now as well, and still listen to it. It's still fantastic.


The production we saw was the "Next Generation", with slightly more drums and new artists. Liam Neeson showed that even as a hologram he has immense stage presence. Jason Donovan was absolutely amazing as the Parson Nathaniel, and Ricky Wilson did a great job as the Artilleryman, recapturing part of the David Essex-ness about it while still making the role his own.

The whole stage production was rather excellent, and is due to be released on DVD/BluRay in November.

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