May The Force Be With You! Family Concerts at The Phil
Science Fiction Classics
I came home last Monday and said to my kids, “I’ve got some great news, we’re going to a concert together on Sunday.” My daughter was thinking, “Rizzle Kicks, Rizzle Kicks, Rizzle Kicks!” so you can imagine the abject disappointment etched on her lovely face when I told her we were going to see a concert of music from classic Sci-Fi shows.
I offered to let her off, but she gamely said she’d come with us to the latest in a series of Family Concerts at The Phil. In the end she was glad she did.
The concert blurb invited everyone to dress up and, typical of Sci-Fi fans, the audience went out to impress. We saw little Sith Lords, teeny-tiny Storm Troopers and a particularly creepy gas mask wearing “Are you my mummy?” nurse from The Empty Child episode of Doctor Who. And that was before we made it past the lobby. Even before the concert started, kids were encouraged to try out instruments at the Instrument Petting Zoo and awards were given for the best costumes. The Phil’s Family Concerts are aimed at kids from 4-10 years, but just around us there were nanas and a baby so new he looked like he’d been whisked there straight from the hospital.
Lead by a jolly and enthusiastic Alasdair Molloy, who set the scene by disco dancing onto the stage wearing a space suit, the orchestra started off with a rousing version of the Imperial March from Star Wars. And let me just say, the members of the RLPO were clearly having a blast and had come suitably dressed as characters from the Star Wars and Doctor Who universes. One even appeared to be dressed as one of the three-eyed ”Oooh!” aliens from Toy Story.There was a Dalek in the clarinet section and even Michael Seal conducted using a light sabre.
I’ve never seen an audience at The Phil that was so lively and engaged as we were taken through music from the best of Sci-Fi, including a glorious rendition of the original 1960s Star Trek theme. There was a brilliant ”Name That Tune” session with music covering classics from The Twilight Zone through to Futurama, via Thunderbirds, Red Dwarf and a spectacular, camp-as-Christmas theme from Batman.
The only non-Sci-Fi piece was the wonderful Mars from Holst’s Planet Suite. Written almost 100 years ago, its influence on music film and TV scores is palpable.
A version of Mean Green Mother From Outer Space from Little Shop of Horrors, sung in the film version with delicious malice by R&B legend Levi Stubbs , was re-named Mean Green Creature (for the kids, I understand) and seemed rather incongruous done here by a middle-aged Scot. But I think I was possibly the only person who was bothered by it, as everyone else was on their feet singing along.
The performance ended with the only version of the Time Warp outside the original musical that I haven’t absolutely hated (I even did the dance, God help me) and of, course, with a take on the original theme from Doctor Who.
We’ve all watched these iconic films and TV shows, but to see this music done by a live orchestra was something special. The passion from everyone on stage and from the audience was a sight to behold. I was thrilled by it and so were my kids.
The part that moved me the most, though, was when Alasdair Molloy quoted movie music legend John Williams as saying
Thank goodness for movies. Without them, no-one would be writing music like this any more.
Here, here. This was a fantastic introduction to the power of orchestral music for absolutely anyone. Even Rizzle Kicks fans.
Check out upcoming Family Concerts at The Phil, including Pirates and a John Williams special, at
Prices are around £6 for kids and £10 for adults.
Update – Alasdair Molloy has posted a couple of youtube videos in the comments below to the “Name That Tune” section. See how many you can get before the titles appear! And guess which one I thought was Spiderman *hangs head in shame*