A Symphonic Spectacular!
Guest contributor Max Jelbart reviews the recent Doctor Who concert held in Australia.
Recently, and when I say, recently, I’m talking about the Matt Smith era, there’s been a lot of live events, concerts and exhibitions surrounding the show. It must be pretty profitable, when you think about the number of them that there has been – Doctor Who at the Proms (2007 and 2010), Doctor Who Live, Crash of the Elysium, The Doctor Who Experience… and the list goes on. But these impressive arrays of Who-related events are not solely here to rake in a few more cents. They’re also tremendous fun, and must expand the viewership a little at least. All the planning that goes into these things takes a lot of time and effort, and massive venues and prestigious names that have been involved with one or more of these concerts, or experiences is quite considerable and enviable. And all this is very well and good, but up until 2011, the Doctor Who franchise’s spectacular events were contained, pretty much, within the U.K.
Until 2012. In February of this year, the franchise brought its monsters, some of its stars, and of course, Murray Gold’s stunning music to Melbourne. Two performances. Huge swathes of Whovians descended on Australia, relished in the excitement of having Canton Everett Delaware III be the master of ceremonies, and made sure they were suitable attire. It was completely sold out. As an Australian Whovian, who flew from Sydney to Melbourne for it, there was hardly anything that could be more exciting. Until it was announced that the Sydney Opera House were welcoming back Murray Gold, Ben Foster, the entire fleet of monsters (albeit with a few, particularly terrifying Angels added to the collection), and introducing Alex Kingston (River Song) and Mark Williams (Brian Williams) to host the event. Well, I had to go again, didn’t I?
Four performances became twelve, when all original tickets became sold out within a week of announcement. Let me tell you, seeing Doctor Who visit your hometown is excitement in a whole different league. Yes, I’d seen the thing before, and it was spectacular, but this was in the Sydney Opera House… with River and Rory’s Dad! December couldn’t come soon enough.
So, the day arrived – a thick, muggy Australian day. The outfit planned, complete with Tom Baker scarf, Doctor Who T-Shirt and Santa Hat (well, it’s Christmas, and Matt Smith wore one in A Christmas Carol). Arriving there, I was greeted by thousands of brightly dressed, broadly smiling Whovians, of all ages, from toddlers to grandparents, to diehard fans, to young adults. There were fezzes abound, so many scarves, Doctor Who Character Building tables, and a collected feeling of feverish excitement. And then the doors opened, and we were all ushered inside to the dazzling, impressive Concert Hall, decked out with a giant screen, and Doctor Who logos everywhere. At times like this, you really have to marvel the continued popularity of this show. From it’s humblest of beginnings, to it’s blockbuster fame in the 70s, to it’s unforgettable Anniversary year of 1983, and to its bold and brilliant resurrection in 2005, it’s flourished in almost every era. But this concert, today, was celebrating an element of Doctor Who that’s been crucial since the beginning – the music.
And what wondrous music it was. The majority of the music taken from Series 5 and 6, the tracks ranged from “Battle in the Skies”, introduced by the Daleks themselves, who claimed, “Sydney Opera House will be our new palace!” to the magical and haunting “Abigail’s Song”, and the Series 6 melody, “A Stitch in Time”, which coincided with the Ood, Astronaut and Silent’s deciding to talk a walk amongst the audience. There were a few tracks from Series 7, such as “Brianosauraus”, which, as you can probably guess, is taken from Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, to the moving masterpiece that is “The Final Chapter of Amelia Pond”, a suite of music taken from The Angels Take Manhattan. Yes, there were tears. Of course, there were favourites, as well. “This is Gallifrey; Our Childhood, Our Home” was paired with a montage of all the regenerations, as I now believe is customary, culminating in “Vale Decem” over the two regenerations from the 21st Century. And, at the tail end of the concert, after an introduction by Murray Gold himself, “The Song of Freedom”, and, of course, the “Doctor Who Theme” were both performed to a standing ovation.
This feast of Gold’s music was wonderfully held together by the dynamic and radiant duo that was Alex Kingston and Mark Williams. Highlights of their hosting include Brian, oops, sorry, Mark throwing a golf ball out to the audience in his introduction to “Brianosauraus”, and Alex Kingston doing Gangnam Style. Yes, you read that correctly.
It was a fantastic experience, it truly was; seeing Doctor Who’s monsters for real, just a few meters way, was an experience that’ll stay with me for a very long time. That could be said for the entire concert, however, and I know I’m not alone, when I’d like to thank the Doctor Who team for a wonderful, wonderful time. It really takes something like this for you top truly appreciate the quality and depth of sound that Murray Gold has given Doctor Who over these past years. Hearing the music in such a place, on its own, without the sound effects, dialogue and story rattling along over it, it becomes something else. Not just music. Not just good music, not even great music. It becomes truly spectacular. Thank you, on behalf of Australia, to everyone involved.
P.S: On top of all that, I actually got to meet Alex Kingston and Mark Williams, along with about thirty other trembling and star struck fans, around the back door. I couldn’t have asked for anything better for Christmas.
P.P.S: I would tell you all something incredibly exciting but I’ve been sworn to secrecy, and, as River Song would, and in fact, did say… “Shh… spoilers!”