The War of the Worlds – number 2

The first of my 50 that I will share! It’s the not the first that I did but why do things in order?

I have always liked Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds and bought the double album (on vinyl of course!) when it was first released in 1978. My husband treated himself the the new version earlier this year so I bought tickets to see the arena show at the O2 Arena for his birthday.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew that Liam Neeson (lovely voice, but Richard Burton is still my favourite) would be a hologram and I knew that Jason Donovan was in it. I knew little else. So I was very surprised to find that Jeff Wayne was conducting the whole show. There was a small orchestra and the Black Smoke Band with Herbie Flowers. I had no idea Herbie Flowers was still going (sorry Herbie!) The O2 arena is an amazing venue for this type of show. There was a real buzz about the place while waiting for the show to start. And when it did, starting with the Eve of War it sent shivers down my spine. Liam Neeson telling of the Earth being watched from afar and then the opening chords. It never ceases to amaze me how powerful music can be and the physical effect it can have.

The arena was the perfect place for such a huge show. Filmed backdrops complimented live action and the music was played to perfection. The only disappointment was Brian McFadden as the journalist’s sung thoughts. My favourite song (almost my favourite of all time!) is Forever Autumn and Justin Hayward’s version was far superior. This is but a minor gripe as the show was amazing. Jason Donovan played the Pastor with Carrie Hope-Fletcher as his wife. Two big musical theatre stars and as the review I had seen before said, they really stole the show. Dramatic and brilliant story telling in a song.

I have to mention the Martians – after all without them there would be no show! Most of them were on the screen but there was one which descended from the ceiling and shot fire above the audience’s heads. Very impressive and added massively to the atmosphere. It’s a shame it was the farewell tour, but you never know, a new version may make another appearance!

During Forever Autumn lots of paper autumn leaves floated from the ceiling. We managed to snaffle three, each different colours. A happy keep sake. We bought a programme at the huge price of £15. I do object to such a price but we don’t do these things often and it is a great way to remember the event. I was pleased that only a small part of the programme was adverts and there was a lot of information about the history of the production so all in all, almost worth the money!

We travelled between Central London and the O2 Arena by the river boat which added to the fun of the day. The guys who work on those boats are just amazing. The speed and deftness they handle the many dockings with is breath taking. They certainly earn their money and it must be a really tough job in wet and cold weather. For us, it was a far better way to travel than on the tube.

The day ended perfectly as we returned home to my daughter who came home from uni for the Christmas holidays. It was a shame we couldn’t be there to greet her, but lovely to find her there when we did get home.

A worthy tick on the list of 50 – I hope they are all as good as this!


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