Concert Review

Star Wars: In Concert at Arena: Lucasfilm Ganks More Money Outta Geekdom

For the past three decades, the "Great Bearded One" has been on a Jedi-like quest to separate Star Wars fans from their paychecks by any means necessary. His unabashed over-licensing has even exceeded Krusty the Clown-like levels of hucksterism at times, as evidenced by such WTF? merchandise as green-friendly organic products from a galaxy far, far away.

And the latest Lucasfilm cash cow? Star Wars: The Concert, a symphonic and multimedia showcase of John Williams epic soundtrack from the six-part blockbuster film saga complete with video screens, laser lights, and pyrotechnics that the L.A. Times described as "Yoda with coda." The bean-counters at Skywalker Ranch ultimately woulda been most pleased by the massive amount of geeks who turned out at Arena last night when the touring made a stop in Glendale.

The two-hour program consisted of around a dozen or so "chapters" chronicling the characters and storylines from all six films encapsulated into what were essentially tone poems set to such memorable Star Wars musical leitmotifs as "Duel of the Fates" and the "Imperial March." In between segments, C-3PO himself Anthony Daniels (who never seems to turn down any chance to cash in on his legendary role) toddled out to provide and graceful -- and oftentimes heartfelt -- narration.

But if you weren't one of those who made the trek out to Westgate, here's how to partially recreate the experience:

-- Pick up a copy of the 2005 DVD Star Wars: A Musical Journey and a few multicolored laser pointers (available at your neighborhood rave).
-- Pop the disc into a DVD player hooked to a 50-inch HDTV.
-- Take $30 to $60 out of your wallet and light it on fire.
-- Lower the lights and press play.

There. I just saved you an hour's drive. The following to-do list is a long-winded way of summing up the disappointment I felt over the fact that Star Wars: The Concert was essentially the same content on said DVD with a few bombastic embellishments.

But then again, I'm of the opinion that everything Star Wars-related from Return of the Jedi onward has pretty much been pure bantha poo-doo (with the exception of certain portions of Revenge of the Sith).

One of the few saving graces of the whole experience was the various costumes and props on display throughout the lobby of the arena, including full-scale replicas of Boba Fett and Han Solo encased in carbonite. (If I'd remembered to bring along some chloroform and a moving truck, both items would be sitting in my living room by now). It was also kinda cool that such local Star Wars cosplay groups as the Dune Sea Garrison and Mos Eisley Base (part of the 501st and Rebel Legion, respectively) got to impress both kids and nerds alike with their painfully accurate costumes.

May the force be with them, always.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Star Wars: In Concert at Arena.

Better Than: Episode I - The Phantom Menace and Episode II - Attack of the Clones. I'm certain that both films are played nonstop in Hell on a daily basis.

Personal Bias: I owned the Millennium Falcon, AT-AT, and Slave I as a kid.

Random Detail: I met a homicide detective from the Phoenix Police Department who said he was a lifelong Star Wars fan.

Further Listening: The Music of Star Wars: 30th Anniversary Collection.

Additional Reading: Check out Maxim's amusing blog citing the "Five Worse Ideas Than 'Star Wars in Concert'."

One Last Thing: David Bowie's "Space Oddity" was played after the show ended and fans were filing out. Nice touch.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.