Blue Planet II Live – Liverpool M&S Bank Arena
Tuesday 26th March 2019
Having watched all of Blue Planet II, one of the BBC’s flagship nature shows, I was excited to be seeing it on a 20×10 metre screen in 4k ‘Ultra HD’ set above a 64-piece orchestra and 16-voice choir providing the show’s musical score – originally written by Hans Zimmer, Jacob Shea and David Fleming.
The lights dimmed. The choir and strings began an ethereal rising note and the enormous screen vibrantly came to life with a colourful montage of clips as the show’s signature tune burst forth from the exceptional City of Prague orchestra. The scale and beauty of the sequence was electrifying.
As that piece ended the stage lights raised, on stepped the narrator, Anita Rani (from BBC’s Countryfile) and introduced the next clip, an adorable sequence showing dozens of Dolphins as they raced the current taking it in turns to propel themselves out of the water and spin through the air before crashing back down again just for fun, or so it appeared.
Each following piece centred on creatures living under, on, or near, the oceans of our Blue Planet, all introduced by Rani who would comment on what we were about to see with facts and anecdotal information about its filming so it was very much stop and start, but all the clips were absolutely breath-taking, helped along with occasional stage lighting and smoke effects.
From Orcas and Humpback Whales in fierce competition for Herring, to Morey Eels chasing a Sally Lightfoot Crab. An Octopus constructing armour from shells to avoid being lunch for Striped Pyjama Sharks and Puffins being chased by Skuas. Due to this being a family show a sequence involving the ‘Bobbit’ worm catching its prey was heavily censored (at the end of that particular sequence Rani mischievously suggested we do an internet search on its name). A Tusk Fish is seen using tools to crack open a shell, Sea Lions are shown hunting Tuna with military precision, and a particularly heart-warming sequence showed a Walrus mother and calf as they struggled to find a big enough piece of ice to settle on. But the strangest creature of all was undoubtably the Pacific Barreleye fish who’s see-through head brought gasps of disbelief from the audience.
While these clips showed the oceans to be a wonderful, and occasionally dangerous world to inhabit, the final sequence was a piece to camera from the show’s original narrator, Sir David Attenborough, informing us of the fragility of the world we live on and how we are fast approaching the point of no return in mending the damage we have caused.
And with that sobering thought in our minds the orchestra played the final, uplifting composition of the evening as our majestic, blue planet revolved above them.
Review by Peter Johnstone.