This DVD of the Royal Albert Hall performance provides a visual representation of all that was so great about listening to the original album when it first came out. The fact that they tried hard to represent the late Richard Burton by using a lookalike actor projected into a face mould hovering above the stage, rather than replacing his mellifluous Celtic tones is but one thing that makes the stage version so interesting.
A lot of the original 'cast' appear here, including Chris Thompson (Thunderchild) and Justin Hayward (a superb rendition of both Eve of the War and one of the high points of the album, his 1978 top five hit, Forever Autumn). Musically, it is almost a complete replica of the album - which is actually what you want from the stupendous double-album that is now almost 30 years old. What you want from a stage show you get, with a thirty feet high fighting machine descending on to the stage, a filmic backdrop with an introductory CGI short of the Mars landscape leading to their intended colonisation of Earth, and the frisson you get when the familiar orchestral string chords come in.
Jeff Wayne conducts the orchestra and old stalwarts Chris Spedding and Herbie Flowers are there at the forefront too. The only disappointment for me was the horrendous over-acting and misplaced attempts at operatic delivery by Russell Watson as the preacher. But this was completely tempered by the Soldier and his ability to evoke the fear and despair through his performance of David Essex's album song and through his actions.
Overall, the stage version could have been embarrassingly trite or completely above expectation. The trepidation I felt before the performance was completely blown away once those chords from the string section chimed in.
If you couldn't get a ticket to the stage show then get this DVD - it is a brilliant enhancement to the fantastic vinyl original!