4 January 2008 | therocinante
So much fun...
Ever since my parents bought the original musical in the early 80's, around when I was born, I've become more and more interested in it as I get older. After watching this concert -or rather production- I began asking myself, "Why is this so great?" I mean, when you tell people what it is, they look at you funny, and it does sound a little silly: "It's the novel, only in a funky, techno-rock incarnation." But there's a number of elements Jeff Wayne's musical has that I think keeps it enduring through the years...and endearing.
First, the sheer composition and arrangement of the music is extremely unique. Without exception, every single song on the album sticks in your mind. The themes range from beautifully stirring to just plain bizarre, and are all memorable. I personally reveled in watching the guitarist perform the "heat-ray" themes throughout this video, and the bass player picking the famous line during the "Horsell Common" section.
Second, out of all the "Big Time" productions of War of the Worlds, this is not only the most unique, but surprisingly the truest to the novel. I recently re-read Wells' book, and couldn't help but hear in my head the music which accompanies certain chapters. Somehow, and I don't know how, late-70's synth-rock does a 19th century novel justice.
And finally, the music and lyrics are extremely straightforward and non-abstract. There is no digging that needs to be done to "get" a song. The listener simply knows that this piece of music represents the characters fleeing, this piece means alien weed is creeping across the ground, and this song is about a heroic battleship facing the invaders. You certainly can find deeper meaning if you look, but it isn't necessary.
All of these elements were present in the original production, and have translated over to the stage, decades later, flawlessly. Now one can witness the beautiful artwork of the original album come to life in animation, and watch the Martians destroying towns, the "Thunderchild" attacking the tripods, the red weed crawling, and the Parson losing his mind (a favorite part of mine). You'll notice people who enjoy this album talk about the chills they get when they listen; being able to see it come to life only makes it more so.