Stand By For Action!
Disability Doesn’t Stop You Going To A Live Show - Stand By For Action! Sat 16th Apr
*Click on the images to enlarge them
Having a disability shouldn’t stop you from enjoying an activity. I have never been to a live orchestra, so this was going to be an experience. At Birmingham Symphony Hall, I decided to get a seat in the stalls with my carer, as I am an ambulatory wheelchair user. But, if you’re not, there are spaces for wheelchair users, so you can listen to the music you love; whether it is a band or classical.
If you need to have a carer with you venues allow them to attend either free of charge, or reduced costs, check details when you book your ticket. There isn’t anything that should dissuade you; you can even get refreshments during intervals ordered beforehand and brought to you in the break.
So, go enjoy yourself and remember you have every right to enjoy a show as the next person.
Gerry Anderson In Concert - Symphony Hall Birmingham
After the opening titles of ‘Thunderbirds’ the show presented by Jon Culshaw, followed the themes and incidental music in chronological order of Anderson’s productions.
Twizzle, Torchy & Four Feather Falls
It all started in 1957 with ‘The Adventures Of Twizzle’, followed by ‘Torchy The Battery Boy’ in 1958. Hilarity then ensues amongst the audience when a scene shows Sheriff Tex Tucker of ‘Four Feather Falls’(1959) in a bathtub, waving his puppet feet above the bubbles singing ‘Two Gun Tex Of Texas’ accompanied by the orchestra.
Stingray & Captain Scarlet
Followed by the opening titles of ‘Supercar’(1960), and incidental music from the Supercar Team with King Kool; came the theme to ‘Fireball XL5’(1962), and the song titled ‘Fireball’ by Don Spencer spent 12 weeks in the country's music charts, peaking at number 32 in March 1963.
I was too young to remember the above, but due to reruns came the music of ‘Stingray’(1963). The audience then went wild when Culshaw introduced ‘March Of The Oysters’ from ‘Stingray’, it was later used in the episode ‘Day of Disaster’ from ‘Thunderbirds’(1964).
’Aqua Marina’ originally sung by Gary Miller, the singing voice of ‘Troy Tempest’, ended the ‘Stingray’ section of the concert. Next in chronological order would have been music from ‘Thunderbirds’, but that would be reserved till later. Instead various incidental music titled ‘That Dangerous Game’ from ‘Thunderbirds’, was played by the orchestra. It included music that accompanied the characters of Penelope and Tin-Tin skiing in one episode.
Next, followed music from ‘Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons’.
Barry Gray, developed an interest in the Ondes Martenot, an instrument he used to compose electronic sound effects to the theme of ‘The Mysterons’. He later used it in the score to the film ‘Doppelgänger’.
Taking the cue from pop groups of the 60’s, Gray’s score opened each episode of ‘Joe 90’(1967) with a bright pop chiming guitar riff. The episode ‘International Concerto’, features the character of a concert pianist who is secretly a spy. The piano score from the episode was played by Crispin Merrell, who later composed music for ‘Space Precinct’, ‘Lavender Castle’, and ‘New Captain Scarlet’.
Live Action ‘Doppelgänger’
Before the interval the orchestra played the theme to Anderson’s live action film ‘Doppelgänger’(1968). Anderson made no secret that he wanted to move to live action productions. Barry Gray jumped at the chance to score the music for a large orchestra.
The film was released as ‘Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun’ outside of Europe. It proved that Anderson could make a sophisticated drama within a space adventure. After the success of the film Lew Grade commissioned Century 21 to produce a television series. 26 episodes of ‘UFO’, where aliens come to harvest human organs for their dying race.
After The Interval
After the interval, the orchestra played the scores to the following; ‘The Secret Service’(1968), UFO(1969), ‘Space 1999(1978). This is where collaboration with Barry Gray ended and when ‘Space 1999’ returned for its second season in 1979; composer Derek Wadsworth was tasked to introduce a more ‘driving and searing’ score to attract more of its American viewers.
Gerry Anderson returned to the world of puppetry with ‘Terrahawks’(1983) with the theme composed by Richard Harvey. This was followed by the themes from ‘Space Precinct’(1994), ‘Lavender Castle’(1997) and ‘New Captain Scarlet’(2003).
Thunderbirds Are Go
For the finale, we returned to the world of Barry Gray, what else could it be? The original ‘Thunderbirds’(1964) of course, the world’s best known theme score. We hear the ‘Thunderbirds’ march from the film ‘Thunderbirds Are Go’(1966).
The audience was encouraged to perform the famous ‘5…4…3…2…1 Thunderbirds Are Go!’, countdown, before the orchestra erupted into the most famous crescendo for any tv/film score ever.
An Assistance Dog At The Concert
As we were coming out of the show we met a couple with an assistance dog, who were also at the concert. So, we stopped to say hello. The person with the assistance dog also had MS, so we asked how having an assistance dog helped.
She said their dog was trained to help; load/unload the washing machine, open/close doors, pickup dropped objects, fetch items. It was such a game they once caught her placing her toys in the washing machine.
What was more interesting was that their assistance dog was their own pet, who was trained to be an assistance dog. The training was undertaken by an authorised training body, and afterwards their dog was registered as an authorised assistance animal.
If your interested in having your pet dog trained as an assistance dog visit, https://www.supportdogs.org.uk for more details.