REVIEW: War of the Worlds, Arena

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JEFF Wayne’s touring stage version of his hit 1978 concept album has been wowing audiences for several years now.

He has updated it after rerecording the album this year and the result is better and far slicker.

It is a multimedia spectacular, marrying a live cast and orchestra with animation, classy lighting effects and a gigantic Martian fighting machine that blasts the stage, setting it alight.

The voice of the narrator, The Journalist, was originally Richard Burton, as on the record, but he appeared as a giant hologram head and that never worked for me.

Now Liam Neeson has taken the role and appears on screens life-size and takes a proper role in the action, making it flow much better. He also sounds amazing.

The animation is also a lot more convincing and I loved the new ‘steampunk’ styling and costumes.

Jason Donovan, playing the deranged Parson, got the biggest cheer of the night but my vote goes to Kaiser Chiefs singer Ricky Wilson as the manic Infantryman.

Marti Pellow does a great job of singing The Journalist’s songs like hit Forever Autumn and there was a good supporting cast, both live and on screen.

However, the star of the show was undoubtedly Jeff Wayne’s fantastic, driving score.