Sunday, 24 May 2015

Review: Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular

Saturday 23rd May marked the first of a new Doctor Who musical event in the UK - the Symphonic Spectacular! Here's a riff on this melodious matinee...

While many film scores are well celebrated (and, now that I mention it, you might like to know I've recently written about my favourite superhero movie themes here) there's not a lot of love for television soundtracks. Doctor Who, of course, is the exception with its incidental music being yet another aspect of the show that it does better than anyone else. Over the last ten years, Murray Gold's music has been just as thrilling and moving as any of your favourite film scores and deserves him a place amongst the best score composers working today. The Symphonic Spectacular which, much like the Proms Doctor Who specials before it, is dedicated to showcasing Gold's, er, gold-standard stuff has been touring Australia since 2012 but has now crossed over the pond.

I was lucky enough to get tickets to attend the premiere performance yesterday - but not before a spanner was thrown in the works. The day before the event it was revealed that builders had uncovered an unexploded WW2 bomb in the vicinity of Wembley (where the concert was being held). Still, it was decided that the show must go on...

Only one thing was certain. Whether it be from the music or the bomb, this was definitely going to be an explosive afternoon.

At about two and half hours (including interval), this was the perfect afternoon out for any Doctor Who fan. The BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales played a cherry-picked selection of Gold's music just as well as they do in the actual show - although it's even more impressive in the flesh. To give some extra entertainment for the kids (oh, all right, everyone), various monsters also popped up throughout (a highlight was the Daleks ordering the orchestra to play some Dalek music or face EX-TER-MIN-ATION). What's more, the event had a charming and cheeky host in the form of none other than the Fifth Doctor himself, Peter Davison, who has quite the repertoire of good-natured digs at such varied targets as conductor Ben Foster, his fellow Doctors (particularly Colin Baker) and even Adric ('cos that kid doesn't get enough flak).

But of course the music is the real star of the show. The pieces chosen are mostly from the recent Series Eight but memorable melodies from previous eras also get a look in, including 'The Doctor's Theme.' It's a tough one to call but, for this audience-member, favourite pieces include the always inspiring 'All the Strange, Strange Creatures' (a great excuse to get lots of monsters on stage), the air-thumping anthem 'I Am the Doctor' hidden in the medley 'The Pandorica Suite' as well as the moody, elusive Twelfth Doctor theme 'A Good Man?' Plus, there are a couple of extra-special treats for those who don't rush off at the end.

So, although the bomb thankfully did not go off (it was removed and detonated safely elsewhere, for anyone interested), the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular certainly was da bomb!*

The Daleks invade! Luckily, the Doctor (Peter Davison) is there to save us.
*I'm never saying that again... 

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