My trip to see the live concert stage show of...


It was a fair day in early 2007 and I had just received the The War Of The Worlds Live: Special Edition (2 disc) set. What was contained therein astounded me. Jeff Wayne had finally done what he wanted to do back in 1978 - produce a live stage show of his musical magnum opus. Complete with a huge video backdrop, functioning MFM (Martian Fighting Machine), orchestra, band, and disembodied head of Richard Burton, this was a true labor of intense love. Reuniting several members of the original recording staff, including Justin Hayward and Chris Thompson, this was a show that had to be seen to be believed.

As I had missed the 2006 tour, I vowed to catch the last show of 2007 at The O2 Millennium Dome in London at 8:00pm on December 22. Never having been outside the U.S., I immediately applied for a passport (which I received almost eight months later). I then waited for prime seats to appear on eBay, as all the normal ticket venues only offered nosebleed seats. Since this would be a multimedia tour-de-force, I wanted to be as close as possible to the stage.

Then things went terribly, terribly wrong.

On the official TWotW website, the forums were beginning to light up from disgruntled people who had already purchased tickets to the O2 show. It seemed that, for whatever reason, passes were not being dispatched until a scant few weeks before the 22nd. This troubled me greatly. I had finally found two lower tier seats on eBay from a seller with a fantastic feedback rating. After exchanging some concerned emails, I was assured the tickets would arrive in time via express mail. Putting my faith in the seller and the UK and US mail systems, I ordered the pair.

It was a horrible decision. Day after day passed with no sign of the tickets. The seller assured me they had been mailed immediately after he had received them (December 8th) and provided me with a tracking number. But, sometime around the 12th, the tickets dropped off the map. No tracking updates were made available after the 12th and I was quickly running out of time.

It was here that providence smiled and something wonderful happened. A lady with the online name of Anita144 on TWotW forums announced that her daughter had decided not to see the show and, as a result, had one ticket too many. And it was in a prime spot - BK102, row A, seat 82. She wasn't interested in auctioning it off and instead offered it to anyone on the forum who wanted or needed it.

I could wait no longer. It was the week I was to journey to London. With no appearance of the eBay-purchased tickets, Anita's offer was my only hope of actually seeing the show. It seemed like an impossibility that this would even work out - she and her husband, John, were flying from the Netherlands and I from the U.S. Both of us would have to somehow find each other on completely foreign soil. After a furious series of email exchanges, it was decided to meet at the O2 ticket office at noon on the day of the concert.

This, then, chronicles my daunting trek to the heart of England to see The War of the Worlds. While I would like to've taken even more photos to better document every step of the trip, what is here is, IMO, a pretty decent pictorial documentary, especially of the O2 itself and the concert hall within. Please be aware that the full size versions are HUGE, almost all being over 3 megabytes. Enjoy!




Before we continue to the videos and pics, there're a few people I wanted to wholeheartedly thank for their invaluable information and assistance. Without them, this trip would've been an exercise in confusion and frustration:

Anita & John, without whom I could not've seen the show.
Duncan Macleod (online name), for great hotel and area information.
Soupdragon, who gave me incredibly rich area information as well as the Transport for London and National Rail Enquiries websites, which saved my butt in more ways than one.
G4Powermac, Gatesheadsteve3, and potatoprince for ticketing information.

And, of course, Jeff Wayne & Co. for putting on this incredible, once-in-a-lifetime show.

This clueless (but humble) American thanks ye!


These are two videos I shot from inside the concert hall. Both are of dubious quality, but should impart some idea as to its size and grandness. These videos and the succeeding images were taken using a Canon SD700 IS camera. If you turn up the sound all the way, you can hear the bass-heavy background music being played during the pre-show seating.

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My saintly savior, Anita, with her husband, John. This was taken right after the show, outside the O2 Dome.

The Ilford station, which services trains in the "one" network. I had booked a room at the Ilford Travelodge at their "super saver" rate of £19/night. Ilford is about 10 miles from the O2.

The exterior of the station. I arrived on a hazy day.

An interior shot of a "one" network train.

A station map for the "one" network, affixed to a wall inside the train.

A shot of an underground train. Notice the ticker-tape electronic sign which documents stops along the route. There are also audio announcements informing passengers of upcoming stations. These trains are extremely nice and clean.

Another shot of an underground train.

If you're going to be relying on the train system to get around, this pamphlet is worth its weight many times over in gold. Get it, study it, and plan your trips accordingly.

A macroscopic view of England's extensive train network, taken from the pamphlet.

On the reverse side is a microscopic view of London and its suburbs. The train system is INCREDIBLY widespread and complex.

The Stratford station, which was the bridge between the "one" network trains and the Jubilee Line. The Jubilee goes into North Greenwich, which is the stop for the O2.

And here it is - Anita's extra ticket. Remember Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? This was my own "golden ticket" and the sole reason why I made the trip.

And here it is - the O2 Millennium Dome, in its full glory. This shot was taken right outside the North Greenwich tube station.

Another shot featuring the way to the main entrance. This thing is HUGE!

A nighttime shot. Notice the ad for the show on the rotating electronic sign.

A clearer shot.

This is a huge obelisk near the entrance.

Immediately inside. The place is simply stunning.

This is the Starbucks where Anita, John, and I discussed the upcoming show.

An inside plaza shot. Beautiful scenery with top-rated shops and restaurants.

The Vue, which is the O2's own theatre.

An ice-skating rink! Living in Florida, we don't see too many of these.

The main entrance to the concert hall. This was actually not the entrance we used.

This is the secondary entrance, which we were advised to use based on our seat locations.

The first shot I took of the concert hall. Immense.

A middle-section shot.

And a shot of the stage. Hey, look what's playing!

The rafters. Ugh. I'm getting dizzy just looking at this picture.

A crappy shot of the hanging MFM.

A close-up of the MFM.

Hey, there's my seat! And a cushy one, it is!

The floor area. I'm actually glad I didn't get tickets for the floor, as it might not've been the best visibility.

The enormous electronic scoreboard used for sports events.

A shot of the instrument cluster.

Hello, there!

More shots of the floor.

And another.

And another.

This was taken right after the show, when the stage was being struck.

My haul! A hoodie on the left, the program guide center, and the tour shirt on the right.

The front of the hoodie. It was actually quite warm.

The front of the incredible program guide. The face is etched in the form of an LP and Anita and I wondered if it could actually be played on a turntable.

The front of the tour shirt. Several were available, but the iconic Michael Trim painting of the battle between the Thunder Child and an MFM just seemed "right".

The back of my goodies.

A huge silk-screened image on the back of the hoodie.

The back of the program book, with the second LP etching.

And the back of the tour shirt.

A shot of Westminster station, which is what I used to get into central London.

Big Ben. The day I traveled to central London was one of the worst days on record for cold and fog.

As evidenced from this shot overlooking the Thames. You can barely see the blue lights of the London Eye in the distance.

A shot of the bridge. What wretched weather. It even made the newspapers.

Standing right underneath The Eye.

A stall on the bridge where I bought two lapel pins and a shotglass for people at home.

 

Oh, and my eBay tickets? They arrived on the 24th, the day I returned to Orlando and two days AFTER the concert. Arrggghhh!