The Amazing World of Si Hart

Amazing insights into my mind as I battle against the inefficient world of the library, moderate a message board, write Doctor Who audio adventures and try and stay sane!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Short Circuit: The Radiophonic Workshop live at the Roundhouse

I have mentioned more than a few times before how much I love the music of the Radiophonic Workshop. It was the soundtrack to much of my childhood, without me really realising at the time and of course being a Doctor Who fan you grow up with a real awareness of their work. How can you not?

Anyway, last summer we were lucky enough to get tickets for the Doctor Who Prom, and very enjoyable it was too. That I thought was that. It was great to hear some Who related music played live, but I never for one moment thought back then that I'd have the chance to hear the stuff I really loved played live. The Radiophonic Workshop in concert... pah! That'd never happen!

And then it did! And we had to go. And so we did. Last night!

I was very excited about it. I'd seen the website promoting the show promising stuff from Doctor Who, Hitch-Hikers and kids TV. That was enough to make me happy and I'd probably been content with just that, but what we got was so much more than that. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

First we met up with Ant and Andrew (who it is always good to be able to spend time with) and after a much needed cup of tea, we went to the pre-concert talk with Dick Mills, Peter Howell, Paddy Kingsland, Roger Limb and Mark Ayres. It was really rather good. They were all really entertaining and had loads of great anecdotes and stories to tell and not just Doctor Who ones either! I was very pleased to have asked them a question too (as did Steve) even if I rather stumbled over my words as I did it (I had a shy moment) but I did it and got some marvellous answers to my question about what pieces of work they were most proud of. They were all really amusing and there was a real sense of their long standing friendship shining through the whole discussion.

After popping out for something to eat, we met up with Stuart in the auditorium and the Andrea Parker set. It was very bleepy. And weird.

Then at around 8.15, they came on stage, dressed in their Radiophonic Workshop lab coats after we'd all been wowed by a simple light display with a mirrorball creating stars all around us that just seemed perfect for the musical accompaniment- a race through space. What followed was a great mix of the familiar and some unfamiliar peices- I didn't really know the Sea Trek (not Star Trek) stuff at all, and very good it was too, and the new piece was very well done indeed.

I liked the way it wasn't them on the vintage synths all night- they had a band playing with them which added depth to the music (and bass- as they said in the talk half the stuff they'd done was heard without the bass coming out of tinny 70s and 80s TV speakers and was mostly hidden behind words and sound effects) so it really was like you'd never heard it before.

I think overall they had an excellent stab at recreating the music. The hours of practice they put in really paid off. The expansion of tracks like Zizwih Zizwih Oo Oo Oo with the band playing along to Delia's track was really good (as was the jazz accompaniment to John Baker's New Worlds) and the frequent places with the remixed tracks heard loud and in surround sound was amazing- truly like you've never heard them before. I liked the tributes paid to some of the members mo longer with us- Desmond Briscoe, John Baker and Delia. Lovely moments.

So the highlights? The Words and Pictures theme made me smile (and a great many other people of a similar age around me!), The Greenwich Chorus was truly wonderful, as was The Astronauts and the wonderfully accurate recreation of the Southend (not Brighton!) Pier sequence from Hitch Hikers.

But, of course, the Doctor Who stuff too was wonderful. Saved until the end of the show, we had the original theme played loud and proud which sent tingles up my spine, followed by a well chosen montage of sound effects and music from 1963-1989... before an unexpected recreation of one piece of music by each of the musicians there that evening... we got several minutes of the end of Logopolis recreated leading up to the regeneration (and it was powerful and spine tingling), Nyssa's theme from Roger Limb and a suite of music from The Five Doctors (it was great when we heard the horn of Rassilon sound in The Roundhouse) and finally the end of Curse of Fenric played heavy. Not content with that, later on we had a recreation of the Peter Howell theme with Peter playing the main melody lines live! Wow! Followed up by a full on rocky-radiophonic new version of the theme, which was superb. Puts Murray Gold to shame!

The encore was lovely. Dick Mills with a tear in his eye welcoming back on stage his old friends to play Radiophonic Rock before Padyy Kingsland got the last words "I've been waiting for months to do this... Thankyou and good night!" and with a bow and a huge round of applause they drifted off stage.