The War of the Worlds: Live - MEN Arena - 13/06/09

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NO-ONE would have believed that so many people could have packed into the Arena to see this spectacular show on its third tour.

In fact, the word 'spectacular' falls way short of describing this show that just keeps getting better every time it tours.

Of course, the music was top-notch – what else do you expect from the likes of Justin Hayward, Chris Thompson, Herbie Flowers and Chris Spedding, who all appeared on the original; album 31 years ago.

Alexis James played The Artilleryman (David Essex on the album) perfectly and he has certainly made the part his own,

We had Jennifer Ellison this time around as Beth, the Parson's wife. She put in an impassioned rendition of 'The Spirit Of Man'.

Parson Nathaniel (originally Phil Lynott, and previously on the live tour Russell Watson and John Payne) was played by Shannon Noll. Shannon has played the part on the Australian leg of the tour and is a sensation in his native land where he shot to prominence in the 2003 'Australian Idol' show.

He absolutely nailed the Parson, with his belief and developing madness. (He admitted to me afterwards that he modelled his portrayal very much on the Phil Lynott version).

With Jeff Wayne conducting the orchestra and ten-piece band, all the elements were there.

Mention has to be made of the effects, which have been improved upon.

The Journalist is still played by Richard Burton, his unmistakeable voice coming from a 3D holographic image that interacts with the people on stage, and the Martian Fighting Machine, dominating the stage as always is just magnificent.

The Computer generated animations (taken from 15 months of pre-production work for a projected movie, are breathtaking.

New effects for this years' performance included leaves falling from above during the poignant 'Forever Autumn' and a special effect where Beth, having died, ascends to heaven.

14 months of planning went into this particular levitation effect.

You would think that, after two tours already, the demand for this show would lessen, but no, if anything there were more people at this show than in both previous tours.

And why not? It's a fantastic show.

No, the earth does not belong to the Martians – it belongs to the genius that is Jeff Wayne.

Martin Hutchinson