Sunday, August 31, 2014

Laserium - the Planetarium for stoners

In a galaxy far, far away, there existed a time when UK rock music fans could treat themselves to an evening at The London Planetarium for what was described as 'The new cosmic laser rock concert'. It was a fairly simple concept - take a bunch of rock and classical tracks and set them to entertaining laser visuals. Sit everyone down in a darkened room and project the images on the Planetarium dome. It was, of course, tailor-made for anyone who happened to have smoked a jazz woodbine or two before the show. The music, a mix of American rock (Joe Walsh, the Doobie Brothers), popular classical music (The Planets, the Blue Danube) and generous helpings of prog rock (Yes, ELP, Utopia, Genesis). I went to the London show on two or three occasions in the late 70s and also went to a one in New York around the same time (which I seem to recall was called the 'Eye See The Light Show'). The Laserium idea was actually developed in 1973 by an American filmmaker, Ivan Dryer. The Laserium shows  played in 46 cities worldwide and were viewed by over 20 million people. The Los Angeles show continued until 2002, a run of 28 years. It was great fun and a real treat to hear the music played through a good sound system too.

I have managed to find some footage from the original shows, including this one, the pening number of the 'Laserock' show, Automation Horroscope, by Nektar

Although the original shows at the London Planetarium only lasted for a while, from about 1977, the Laserium franchise is still going, though they tend to held in larger theatres nowadays in special events. Here's some vintage footage of those early Laserium shows and how they were put together.

And here is a radio advert for the London Planetarium show:

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