Sunday, December 09, 2012
A restricted view of tonight's Martian Invasion
War of the Worlds live.
Yes, it was all kinds of amazing, but... (oh, how hateful to carp about these things) but... but for £50 tickets I'd hoped for something a bit better than a view of some speakers and the lighting rig. I'm sure there's a very exciting, engaged debate to be had about non-subsidised arts, but really and honestly, I can't remember a notice when I was booking saying "There'll be a restricted view of your Martian Invasion".
Being a long way away from these things normally doesn't matter. After all, in these arenas, there are usually screens. And yes, there was one screen showing what was going on - it was the screen hidden behind the speakers and the lighting rig. Hum.
If you're going (and do, if only to marvel at the Martian War Machine on stage), then clearly, if you want to see death rain down on you, you're going to have to pay more. There, an actual Death Tax.
Not keeping up with 70s concept albums, I was unaware that this was the dubstep remix on tour. I had no idea a dubstep remix could tour. Indeed, I've only a hazy idea what a dubstep remix is, but it seems to be a bit of "wobblewobbleboosh" over samples of Liam Neeson saying "black clouds" (Note: the Gran in After Henry once peerlessly described Walkman music as "going wickaboom wickaboom, that's all it is"). Anyway, if you're going to fiddle with something, you may as well fiddle with it harmlessly. And it gave us the joy of watching Jeff Wayne conduct the dubstep bits using Dad Wedding Dancing.
Looming over the action was a big screen. The big screen we couldn't properly see. From our £50 seats. (Yes, I am going on about this, but you can't help sitting in a packed arena and doing "How much is this making?" maths). On the big screen are a lot of computer graphics. It's as if Jeff's popped down the local technical college and told them to go crazy for their summer project. And go crazy they duly did. Some of the results are amazing and impressive. Some of them... well, Jason Donovan's suffered a lot of indignity in life, but to see him dragged off stage and then rendered as a CGI barbie doll being devoured by a tripod against clip art of a church is possibly a new low.
Maybe I was missing the full beauty. Due to the speakers and the lighting rig getting in the way. Of my £50 seats. That's the real victory of the Martians. Making you feel cheap for only spending £50 on tickets.
Do go, though. There's a lot of spectacle you can enjoy, really enjoy. You can also marvel at how tiny the average human bladder is. War of the Worlds is not a long show - it's two 45-minute albums, after all. With an interval. And yet there was a constant trickle to-and-from the bogs. As the Artillery Man commented, the nice thing about the Martians invaded was that the sewers were flushed clean and sweet.
The final shame was that, if a stadium could be said to scarper, it scarpered before the end. This wasn't a matinee showing of 27 Dresses at the Vue. This was War!of!the!Worlds! Live!on!Stage! with a Real!Live!Tripod!, but the people of Manchester grabbed their coats and made for the exit before Jason Donovan had even finished his curtain call. Which is a real shame, as they then missed the genuinely impressive bit at the end where they let off all the remaining pyrotechnics. Which looked amazing. Even from my £50 seat.