PREVIEW: Jeff Wayne looks forward to War Of The Worlds' return to Liverpool

Jeff Wayne

Jeff with Liam Neeson, who plays George Herbert in War Of The Worlds

First published in News
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Wirral Globe: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

THE stage adaptation of Jeff Wayne's classic album War Of The Worlds returns to Liverpool as part of its final arena tour later this year.

Based on HG Wells' tale of Martian invasion, which was written in 1897, the show will be staged at the city's Echo Arena on November 28.

It features live performance by 46 musicians on stage, five guest artists and a life-size hologram of Hollywood action man Liam Neeson, who plays George Herbert, The Journalist.

Conducting the band is Ivor Novello award-winning composer Jeff Wayne, who produced the 1978 album.

Looking forward to the tour, New York-born Jeff told the Globe this afternoon: "It's an exciting show and I’m looking forward to bringing it to Liverpool.

"It's called the final arena tour, because I’m taking the show in a new direction after the tour ends.

"Our plans will be announced at the end of the tour and we’ll start work next year.

"I can’t give anything away at the moment, but what I can say is it will be very challenging, creatively."

Originally released in June 1978, War Of The Worlds featured a ground-breaking blend of prog rock, electronic instrumentation and classical orchestration.

As well as a spell-binding narration by Richard Burton, there were also outstanding performances by some of the biggest artists of the 1970s, including David Essex, Justin Hayward, Phil Lynott and Julie Covington.

It enjoyed huge success and critical acclaim across the globe with more than 15 million records sold, spending over 330 weeks in the UK Album Chart plus achieving two International hit singles The Eve of The War and Forever Autumn.

A revamped version, War Of The Worlds New Generation, was released in 2012, features Liam Neeson, Kaiser Chiefs' front man and The Voice panellist Ricky Wilson and Kerry Ellis.

The new show also features X-Factor winner Shayne Ward, Joseph Whelan, Westlife’s Brian McFadden as the sung Thoughts of The Journalist and Jason Donovan as Parson Nathaniel.

The stage show first went out on tour in 2006 and each time has sold out.

Liam Neeson's hologram replaced that of Richard Burton in 2012.

On its continued success, Jeff said: "I've always considered it a living work, which I expand for each tour, and there is no exception this time.

"The story is as relevant today as it was in HG Wells' day, with its core themes of invasion and religious faith.

"When he wrote War of The Worlds he was taking a pop at the British Empire for taking over countries.

"So, as a tribute to him in the final arena tour, I give HG Wells a chance to have his say about why he wrote what has become known as the first science fiction story ever written, and its meaning to the real world we live in.

"As a result, I’m most excited to announce that HG Wells will be seen and heard as a hologram in three scenes – aged 33, 53 and 79 – spanning the end of the 19th century and two subsequent World Wars."

Asked if he believed there was life on Mars, Jeff told the Globe: "I've been asked this question ever since the album was released in 1978 and my answer has always been the same.

"I'm ready to be convinced, but I’m more interested in the science of this than the fantasy.

"There is certain evidence to suggest that there may be some form of life on Mars. Let's watch this space."

Tickets for the show’s Echo Arena date are from www.echoarena.com,  www.thewaroftheworlds.com/tickets or 0844 8000 400.

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