BLUE PLANET II – LIVE IN CONCERT | 20.03.2019 | Newcastle Utilita Arena | REVIEW

BLUE PLANET II – LIVE IN CONCERT | 20.03.2019 | Newcastle Utilita Arena | REVIEW

Blue Planet II – 20th March 2019 – Newcastle Utilita Arena

Review by Neil Ainger

When you consider all of the awe-inspiring things that make the BBC documentary television series Blue Planet, and its sequel Blue Planet II, the incredible feat that it is, you could be forgiven for downplaying the importance of its score. The Natural History Unit of the BBC spent 4 years collecting a staggering 6,000 hours of underwater footage, diving to the depths of the planets oceans in 39 different countries and over 100 different expeditions, committing to film events unlike any that have ever been witnessed before. Having attended the Newcastle date of the UK tour of Blue Planet II: Live in Concert however, I urge you not to downplay its soundtrack. Composed by Hans Zimmer, Jacob Shea and David Fleming for Bleeding Fingers Music, it is brought to the stage as part of a live concert tour by the City of Prague Orchestra and conducted by Matthew Freeman.

The crashing, powerful strings and the elegant, booming choir narrate some of nature’s most colourful and vibrant stories, presented on a huge 4K Ultra HD LED screen. Each scene, introduced by BBC Countryfile presenter Anita Rani, was shown without the familiar vocal commentary of the series’ narrator David Attenborough, which had left a lot of people wondering if the footage may lose some of its drama. The soundtrack however really did more than fill the void. Moray eels waiting beneath the water’s surface for prone Sally Lightfoot crabs, accompanied by an appropriately sinister and dangerous score, tells the viewer all they need to know when it comes to what may happen next, and the crabs speedily evading the attacks of advancing octupuses by running, skipping and leaping from rock to rock is met with a more light hearted whimsy and eventual triumphant tones as the crabs reach the safety of their feeding grounds.

Sitting front and centre, the gigantic screen fills the field of vision and is truly the most impressive way to view the incredible footage from the series, footage so full of beautiful colour and captivating in its own right that one does genuinely continue to forget that the score is being performed live in front of your very eyes by a 80-piece orchestra and choir.

As well as the Sally Lightfoot crabs, the daunting Portuguese Man-of-war with its stinging tentacles that hang 30 metres down below the surface of the water makes an appearance, as does the terrifying Bobbit worm and the in-flight battle for dinner between the puffin and the Arctic Skua. Some of the most impressive scenes from the series take centre stage and make it genuinely difficult to know exactly what it is we are supposed to be the most impressed by: the footage and the knowledge of exactly what went in to capturing it, or the gorgeous way in which its audio is brought to life. Blue Planet II: Live in Concert is a breathtaking achievement. It is a beautiful show.

As with the TV series, the tour also highlights the importance of plastic pollution and of protecting our oceans. The ‘Blue Planet Effect’ has been taken on the road and will hopefully therefore take its hold on even more families and in even more households. We share our planet with an estimated 8 million forms of life and yet do so much to damage it for all of them, ourselves included. You can perhaps credit the series with some small changes for the better already, but there is hopefully many more to come.

SIGRID | GEORGE EZRA | 07.03.2019 | Newcastle Arena | REVIEW

SIGRID | GEORGE EZRA | 07.03.2019 | Newcastle Arena | REVIEW

Sigrid and George Ezra – 7th March 2019 – Newcastle Utilita Arena

Review by Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

Fresh off the release of her debut album and kicking off the arena tour for George Ezra, we really did get a SUCKER PUNCH on the opening night at Newcastle Arena with Sigrid.

With her band dressed in black, Scandi-Pop sensation Sigrid is plainly dressed in blue jeans and a white t-shirt but her performance was far from plain. With the majority of the SOLD OUT crowd already filling out the venue there is a loud roar as she greets them with a ‘what’s up?’ And into the title track of her debut album which just so happens to be released at midnight after this show She announces this third song into the set and the crowd erupt with just as much excitement as she goes into the Madonna like opening of Don’t Feel Like Crying. After this performance I’d be surprised if half if not more didn’t wait up til midnight to stream its release as they were bouncing in the floor area just as much as she was running from one end of the stage to the other and taking every opportunity to take to the little square platforms that are also on the stage too.

Her energy is infectious. She seems to wear a constant smile throughout her whole set and that is also infectious. Whether you were familiar with Sigrid before seeing her open for George Ezra or not, you cannot help but be put under her spell. Her tunes are catchy enough to have you bopping around which the crowd on the floor do and with an artist like Sigrid it is a great experience to be able to watch her enjoy every second performing for us.

She runs through a strong half-hour set which includes EP songs that have made the album such as Schedules and Don’t Kill My Vibe. Both these actually show there are quite a lot of Sigrid fans in attendance and they sure were getting value for money as although she was the support act of the night it felt like it could have been her own headline show. She rounds up her set in style as the whole seating audience is on their feet and most of them are singing along to her recent hit Strangers, which is electrifying.

George Ezra himself puts on a stunning show. There is a curtain hiding his staging as Sigrid performs but as showtime comes it drops to full on screams to reveal a ‘big room’ complete with huge windows, potted plants and even a gramophone player. I have always been impressed with Ezra’s voice but I have never really been set alight with his live performances from what I’ve seen on television but I was proved well and truly wrong with this opening night of his headline sell out arena tour. His storytelling between numbers is hilarious and he even gives us some dance moves. His backing band are just as pumped as he is and jump around as much as they could too. The brass section are a real talking point of the night and they also lend themselves to some stunning backing vocals. We are given songs from both his first album and his second album and landscapes of sunsets and sunrises and even a blood moon come through the ‘windows’ and we are event treated to a bit of a carnival feel.

So, if like myself you think, “that George Ezra, well he can sing like and has catchy tunes but not much else,” be prepared to have your mind changed as this night, with both Sigrid and Ezra is close to what a perfect big production show is. The atmosphere was amazing as both artists and their bands gave us electrifying performances and I am now very gutted I missed out on Ezra’s more intimate show at the Newcastle Academy at the end of last year but luckily I can still catch Sigrid when she comes in November at the end of this year.