FROM the moment Luke Skywalker felt the force, Star Wars was on a stellar trajectory to become a global phenomenon.
Since 1977, the feature films that lie at the heart of the sci-fi epic have spawned a universe of spin-offs. The latest addition to film-maker George Lucas’ franchise, however, is a blockbuster in its own right.
Star Wars: In Concert received its World Premiere at London’s 02 in April last year. Next Saturday, it plays its only Scottish dates, when it lands at the SECC.
Featuring music from all John Williams’ Star Wars scores, performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the concert is billed as ‘a massive multi-media event’ with narration provided by – who else? – Anthony Daniels, the man who played C-3PO in all six films.
“Oddly, for some reason, I’m the only person to have been there throughout – either people have died off, been replaced by a younger character or become digital. So I’ve seen the history, seen people come and go and be reinvented. 3PO is a story-teller in the original films, one of the most visually striking constants that carry you through the entire saga.”
C-3PO – Daniels always drops the C when referring to his best known role – is also loquacious, a trait the robot shares with the actor. A shoo-in, then, to narrate the concert, and one that has the blessing of George Lucas himself.
“Several times in each film, when I would turn up on set in the costume, George Lucas would say, ‘Ah, Star Wars has arrived’,” recalls the 64-year-old. “That was a nice thing to hear because Star Wars is a mighty story that, for whatever reason, has spanned the globe over and over again, through generations now.
“What is magic for me is being able to stand on stage – not in my gold suit, that’s in an exhibition outside the arena – and be the glue that holds the evening together.”
Daniels’ narration and the music is accompanied by specially edited Star Wars footage, shown on a three-story-tall, high-definition LED super-screen.
“Rather cleverly, I tell the story from beginning to end – George Lucas told it from middle to end and the beginning to the middle – and in doing so have realised that it is a very simple story,” explains Daniels.
“It starts with The Galaxy being a rather wonderful place under a republic, but there are always bad people about. We meet a little boy called Anakin Skywalker. He meets a girl and then he begins to be seduced by some bad people and turns really bad. However, along the way he has had two children who finally confront him, defeat him and then, as he dies, he is redeemed and The Galaxy goes back to being a wonderful place.”
Laughing, he adds, “It is a galaxy, I have to tell you, far, far away.”
It’s Williams’ music, however, that brings that story to life.
“I have seen bits of the movies without music,” reveals the actor. “When I’m putting my voice on there’s no music, and without the music there is very little feeling. It’s a bit flat and without emotion. Doing these concerts I have realised that music is an immediate key to your emotions. Two or three notes of music can instantly make you feel sad or tense or afraid or angry. To do that in words is much more difficult.”
And don’t worry if you are not a Star Wars fan, the scores also stand up as orchestral pieces in their own right.
“The music stands up in its own right 100 per cent,” Daniels emphasises. “The basic honour of the evening is to the music and John Williams. He has re-jigged some of his pieces to go in sync with the film clips and the impact is enormous.
“Doing this night after night you’d imagine we’d get bored with it, especially the orchestra, because they have to work very hard. But without fail they come off tired but smiling at the end.
“Most concert halls hold two thousand people, at these concerts we have five, ten, 15,000 people really reacting forcefully, and in a positive way. The musicians love that genuine appreciation.
“You know, a lot of people are loath to go to an orchestral concert because they are intimidated by the thought. There’s nothing intimidating about this. I want people to come and see that when you watch and listen to a symphony orchestra it is rather wonderful.
“The music goes in your ears, kind of wriggles around in the middle and makes you feel really rather good. Maybe after seeing this, people will give another orchestra a whirl.”
Of course, fans of the films will also want to hear C-3PO’s distinctive high pitched delivery, and Daniels reveals, “One of the reasons I was asked to play 3PO was because I was good at mime, but doing the voice is just as intense.
“Having just done two days recording in LA, I can tell you the voice is fairly exhausting. I think now I would have chosen a different kind of voice, less tense, had I had known that it was going to last for 34 years.
After a moment’s thought he admits, “Curiously, it was only fairly recently that I realised 3PO was with me for life. I hadn’t really thought about it. Now, looking back, I realise just what an enormous piece of work Star Wars has been to be involved in.”
Star Wars: In Concert, SECC, Glasgow, 12-13 March, 7.30pm, £30-£65, 0844-395 400