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Star Wars: A New Hope Live in Concert, Arena Birmingham - review

By Charlotte Callear | Birmingham entertainment | Published:

It’s the greatest space opera of all time and it now comes with its very own live orchestra.

Star Wars: A New Hope

Star Wars: A New Hope Live in Concert just might be the perfect way to experience the first instalment in the epic saga, or indeed any of them.

From the moment the spine-tingling blare of the main-theme rang out into the Arena Birmingham auditorium the audience were enthralled.

It’s safe to assume that the vast majority of the crowd – many of whom were aged 30-something plus – were well familiar with the plot and simply wanted an excuse to take a nostalgic trip back into their childhood, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Although following the resurrection of the Star Wars franchise in recent times with new films mobilising a younger fanbase, it was also an ideal opportunity to show them how it all began.

The question is whether it was worth the sizeable price of entry for what was essentially a fancy cinema screening? Well the answer from this particular fan is a resounding yes.

Make no mistake, for sizeable periods you could be forgiven for thinking the Novello Orchestra were simply there to watch along with you during the dialogue-only segments.

But when required they were ready to belt out those ever-so recognisable theme tunes elevating them to epic new levels.

There were notable highlights from the poignant warble of the Force melody when Luke looks out at the sunset yearning for adventure, to the menacing motifs of the Empire Storm Troopers chasing him down.

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Star Wars: A New Hope

If nothing else this concert-style viewing serves to underline the sheer brilliance of composer John Williams. His masterful scores helped transcend a sci-fi tale of heroes and villains into an adventure for the ages.

Every single element of George Lucas’s universe - a lived-in vision of the future from the ancient past - is infused with character by Williams’ sprinkling of magic.

One minute you are soaking up the alien-jazz of the cantina on Tatooine the next you are holding your breath as the Death Star space battle determines the fate of the galaxy in all its symphonic grandeur.

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Sound has always been fundamental to evoking Star Wars’ wide spectrum of emotions. Perhaps the biggest compliment of A New Hope Live in Concert is that for the most part you’ll likely forget the orchestra is even there.

There is no disconnect between the on-screen action and the booming sounds reverberating around the arena. You’ll be as immersed in the drama as you were the first time around.

But as the credits rolled there was no dashing for the exits as the audience re-focused their attention on the flawless musicians before them playing out their own finale.

At the end they received a richly-deserved standing ovation.Star Wars’ iconic themes were not composed for the concert hall, but they were certainly inspired by it.

The series’ soundtrack has finally come of age.

Charlotte Callear

By Charlotte Callear
@CCallear_Star

Reporter based at the Express & Star's Wolverhampton head office

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