Review: The War of the Worlds: The New Generation – Alive on Stage!

Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds: The New Generation - Alive on Stage 2012Or, to give it’s slightly-unwieldy full title: Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds: The New Generation – Alive on Stage at the O2!

I was introduced to Jeff Wayne’s epic musical adaptation of classic sci-fi story The War of the Worlds back in 2010, and discovered it was touring live that year. Sadly, snow and blizzards conspired to prevent me attending the 2010 show; I was fortunate, however, to be able to attend the 2012 showing of the revamped show. This DVD is a recording of said show from the performance at London’s O2 arena.

As expected, the music is first-rate; certainly, it’s bombastic and its roots as a 70s concept album are evident. However, the modern touches the New Generation production revitalise the music and give it a fresh touch. I was initially reticent when the New Generation was announced but was pleasantly surprised!

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In terms of the DVD, the production is pretty slick, capturing the epic moments of the New Generation show rather admirable; however, the full impact of the descending Martian Fighting Machine and Heat Ray can only be seen in a live environment. This is not a shot-by-shot remake of the 2006 DVD; it’s unashamedly Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds but also not afraid to be it’s own entity. There’s ample opportunity to enjoy seeing the band play, Jeff Wayne conduct, see the CGI backdrop and Liam Neeson’s excellent narration while the on-stage performers and singers are not neglected. The sheer scale of the show is readily apparent.

Musically the reproduction of the sound is excellent, almost too much so; sometimes you feel you’re not listening to an actual live performance but nevertheless it’s a music DVD and poor music quality would scupper it from the off. The strings sound deep and striking and the synths a perfect balance; the to-and-fro between each becoming totally anthemic. Every ulla of the Martians reverberates down the speakers!

As a “standard edition DVD” there’s only minimal special features in the form of interviews with the major cast players; a couple of which have been available online for a while as it is. This is a little disappointing in comparison to the “special edition” 2006 DVD that I own that goes into quite a bit of detail behind the scenes but I’m sure a similar “special edition” New Generation DVD is in the works, and I’ll gladly pay again!

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With this DVD the filmed concert is the star of the show and rightly so. Any fans of sci-fi and rock should definitely check it out; it’s a two-hour blast of epic-ness! As a massive Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds fan I have no choice:

Rating: 6*

Buy The War of the Worlds on DVD or Blu-Ray on Amazon!

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