Saturday, 8 December 2018

War of the Worlds

30th November 2018

Glasgow Hydro

The problem, of course, with Jeff Wayne’s massively successful War of the Worlds is…..that the second half is rubbish.  Well, perhaps not rubbish.  But certainly, after Part One’s stirring Dad-da-da-daaah theme, that eerie six note Martian leitmotif, the downright weird Ulla business – and Jo Partridge’s Heat Ray geetar-work, Part Two is decidedly anti-climactic.  Both musically, and from the point of view of the narrative, I feel.  For, when the hurly-burly’s done, and when the battle's lost and won, the tale drags more than somewhat.   

There are only two real songs in Part Two – The Spirit of Man and Brave New World - both mediocre at best and each dragged out interminably, as Wayne clearly toiled to fill those vinyl grooves.  Much of the rest of the second half is padded out with the almost unlistenable The Red Weed (Parts 1 and 2, no less!). 

The Glasgow Hydro.

So how did Mr. Wayne attempt to resolve this issue in the live show?  Well, Plan A was to reprise Forever Autumn as a duet just after the break.  In doing so, I think the composer was acknowledging he had only weak gruel to feed us with in Part Two.  Plan B was to attempt to inject a touch of action into the proceedings.  So we were presented with Jason Donovan as Parson Nathaniel skulking around stage holding up a cross to ward off whatever, followed by whoever was playing the Artilleryman singing his piece whilst clambering over some narrow metal bridge.  Which made no sense at all.

Carrie Hope Fletcher, as Beth, did her best to rescue things (as did Julie Covington on the original album release, when I think about it).  But she was on a hiding to nothing, poor girl.

Son and I sat through it all moderately patiently, but as soon as the Martians had caught a cold, we scooted out of the Hydro, not bothering with the Epilogues business.  We were happy to forego the encores, in order to ensure we missed the traditional half-hour wait to get out of the Hydro multi-storey car park.

But, to be fair, Part One had certainly been fun.  Particularly when the alien fighting machine descended from the ceiling spitting sparks and flame, before proceeding to single out and “fry” members of the audience.  One poor unfortunate girl appeared to get done about half-a-dozen times, and must have been wondering just what she had done to attract the ire of the Martians.


The Eve of the War
Horsell Common and The Heat Ray
The Artilleryman and The Fighting Machine
Forever Autumn
Thunder Child
Forever Autumn
The Red Weed (Part 1)
Parson Nathaniel
The Spirit of Man
The Red Weed (Part 2)
The Artilleryman Returns
Brave New World
Dead London
Life Begins Again

Epilogue, Part 1
Epilogue, Part 2 (NASA)

Jeff Wayne, himself.

War of the Worlds - Glasgow 2018

A rather insubstantial version of Liam Neeson popped up on this
hologram thingy, to chat to some of the "real" performers. 

But mostly he narrated the business from large screens to the sides of the stage.

War of the Worlds - Glasgow 2018

The Fighting Machine doing it's stuff.

Jason Donovan as Parson Nathaniel attempts to save the planet from alien invaders with some wood.

War of the Worlds - Glasgow 2018

The two projections screens which unfurled at the side of the stage, I am sure added to the experience for most of the audience. 
But for us folks in the cheap seats to the side of the venue, they just obscured part of the main screen, and were a pain in the neck.

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