Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War Of The Worlds
SECC, Glasgow, Wed 5 Dec
In the last years of the 20th century, no one would have believed that a bunch of old stadium rockers would be planning the launch of a new theatrical version of Jeff Wayne’s 70s album. But slowly, and surely, they drew their plans against us. Perhaps the ease with which anyone above a certain age can parody the language, both musical and verbal, of Wayne’s worldwide hit of narrative rock demonstrates the cultural power of the piece, love it or hate it.
Whatever your opinion, the ticket sales have been splendid, both in the initial stages of this UK tour, and the earlier tour of Australasia. Perhaps more than the contributions of Phil Lynot and Justin Hayward, not to mention Richard Burton, to the original album, it’s the power of HG Wells’ apocalyptic story that seems to carry a fascination. Often interpreted as less about Martians than the destructive power of developing weapons technologies, as well as the brutal business of colonial expansion in what, at the time, wasn’t yet called the third world, the piece clearly retains a contemporary relevance that belies its origins in 1898. Add to this a theatre version full of light shows and special effects, and you’ve a big scale entertainment, which, if it isn’t for all tastes, might enthral nostalgia buffs and those with a penchant for whiz-bang.