Roy Orbison In Dreams -The Hologram UK Tour

Roy Orbison In Dreams -The Hologram UK Tour BLOG 22nd April 2018


Earlier this week we went to see Roy Orbison In Dreams -The Hologram UK Tour with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra at Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall.

The show was critically acclaimed by professional reviewers and musicians. But friends I have spoken to, who did not see it are more sceptical, with expressions like: “it’ll be like watching a ghost” or “it’s just his family making money”.

Mamma who I went with did not like it, but she’s not an Orbison fan and very lightweight in her music taste.

Roy Orbison is now acclaimed as one of rock’s greatest musicians. I was fortunate enough to see him live in his hey day. The hologram was so realistic. The creators had an easy job though because on stage when he used to perform, he was just not animated and hardly moved and said very little between songs. I often wonder what advice Simon Cowell would have given to him.

I was aware there had been other hologram gigs, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. But apparently there are others I was not aware of: In 2012, Tupac appeared with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre at Coachella in a semi-gauzy incarnation that had a video game quality to it. Since then, Michael Jackson, Ronnie James Dio, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard have all been given the treatment, while the still-very-much-alive Abba will go on tour in hologram form in 2019.

The Roy Orbison Tour covered 11 dates and was a sell out at the Nottingham Royal Concert Hall.

As I said the professional reviewers have on the whole been impressed. The following is an extract from the NME review last autumn from a New York preview:

“BASE Hologram – the company behind the technology – are previewing this new 4K, projected version of the Big O, along with another hologram of opera singer Maria Callas. She is more developed at this stage, walking out from the wings rather than appearing like a mist and evaporating again, although Orbison’s hologram is still being completed. But both are so impressively lifelike that it’s easy to suspend your disbelief and cynicism, and forget what you’re watching isn’t totally real.

“Roy Orbison looks around at the orchestra behind him, making sure everyone is ready. Satisfied, he turns back to his mic, and starts playing his guitar, wrinkles appearing and shifting in his trousers as he taps his leg. ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ sounds as classic as ever as it echoes through Jazz At Lincoln’s Rose Theater, but when it ends the man who’s been singing and playing this whole time filters down into the stage and disappears like some kind of Disney genie.

“Orbison’s hologram has been in the works for over a year, and is backed by his sons, who formed the company Roy’s Boys to promote and protect their father’s legacy. Tonight is the first time Alex Orbison has seen the hologram and, afterwards, he’s suitably pleased. “It really took my breath away,” he says as people come over to congratulate him. “Everyone asked me, ‘Is it something you’re going to see through?’ At the end of the day, it just looked like my dad standing on the stage. It was a huge, huge success.”

“Technology has come on in huge bounds since Tupac (one of the first holograms) rose to rap once more, and BASE CEO Brian Becker says holograms can now be used outdoors in the daytime. “There are certain conditions that need to be taken into account – for example wind or rain – but in terms of brightness, that’s very possible,” he explains. These developments prompted Alex Orbison to suggest earlier this month that his dad could appear at Glastonbury in the future. The reaction, however, wasn’t entirely positive, with some calling the hologram gimmicky or disrespectful.

“He acknowledges those opinions, but says that’s not what this project is about. “It’s about the art of music and bringing people together,” he says, adding that if more “kids” get to see his dad perform then he can deal with “a couple curmudgeons”. A musician himself, he sees the hologram as taking up the role of inspiration as more standard live performances have always done. “Some kid’s gonna come and watch a hologram of my dad and go home and go, ‘That’s what I’m going to do with life,’” he reasons. “My dad went to a show when he was five years old and he left and said the same thing. That’s the circle that we look for.”

“For Alex, going to see a hologram is like watching a scary movie in a cinema – being surrounded by other people while you’re watching makes a difference to your experience. He’s got a wishlist of other musicians he’d like to see as holograms, including Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, while BASE are already working on projects for other artists (Becker won’t confirm who at present). “It’s a little bit like The Jetsons – we’re seeing the future,” says Alex.

“While that might be true in terms of it using tomorrow’s technology, Becker won’t be drawn into saying that his company’s work is the absolute future for heritage tours – be they for artists dead or alive. “This is a very interesting leap forward as far as I’m concerned, in terms of being able to take really cinematic arts and having it live on stage, interacting and being part of a live presentation,” he says. “That’s a really wonderful and exciting thing to do, but I think to say it’s the future of this or that? There are a lot of futures.” Holograms might not be about to replace real life physical people just yet, but expect them to be a much more frequent sight in music venues very soon.”

Next Sean Hewitt reviewed the Nottingham show I saw as follows:

“This is the weirdest gig I’ve ever been to and the weirdest review I’ll ever write. The show was performed with astonishing precision and discipline, the visual presentation was top-notch and the repertoire comprised wall-to-wall classics.

“But that’s not what you want to hear about. All you want to know is: what was the hologram like?

“So, let’s start there. The hologram was amazing, so convincing it seemed that Roy Orbison himself – despite being dead for 30 years now – was in the room. The grey-suited singer moved and tapped his feet in time with the music. He “accidentally” nudged the holographic microphone stand. The fringes on the sleeves of his jacket rippled in the air as he thanked the audience and the musicians, as light seemed to reflect off his Gibson guitar.

“So eerie was the phenomenon that I can’t have been the only person in the crowd who spent as long thinking “How the hell are they doing this?” as I did enjoying the astonishing, souped-up versions of Orbison’s hits from all periods of his career (and, just for the record, I still have absolutely no idea how the technology works – there appeared to be a semi-transparent blue screen in front of the musicians and I suspect that had something to do with how “Roy” was projected; then again, that microphone stand didn’t seemed to be projected at all, although it obviously was). Apart from way the figure zoomed down into the stage at the end of every few songs, the only giveaway was the stage lights dimly visible through his translucent body.

“Endorsed by the late star’s family, this first-of-its-kind show is certainly a fitting tribute to Orbison’s unique music. From the rousing overture by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, with added electric rock band and backing singer sections, and the atmospheric opening number Only The Lonely to the closing stretch’s I Drove All Night, Oh, Pretty Woman and It’s Over, the audience was rapt.

“Along the way we got In Dreams, Crying, Dream Baby, Running Scared, Pretty Paper, The Travelling Wilburys’ hit You Got It and just about everything else. It was stunning, it has to be said. I just wish I knew where it will lead.

“In support, The Haley Sisters – Jo-Ann on vocals and bass, Becky on vocals and guitar and Becky’s husband Brian, a phenomenal guitarist – were a stark contrast. Perfectly harmonised vocals and elegant guitar work complemented their unpretentiously skilful covers of the Everlys, Elvis and Simon & Garfunkel, plus a couple of solid originals. It would have been great to hear Orbison sing with them, back in his pre-hologram days. But this show was the next best thing.”


My own view is I loved the show and was so pleased I saw it. I did find it slightly off putting to go with someone who was not moved by the performance.

BASE Hologram certainly did an amazingly skill full job. When he first appeared on stage he looked so realistic I thought they must have found an excellent tribute act.

On the down side I found one or two of the musical introductions a little lacking. His songs always tend to start quietly raising to a huge crescendo at the end. I found his quieter voice lost at the very beginning of some songs due to the full orchestra. And I didn’t always recognise the early part of the musical introduction, due to new arrangements.

There were moments early in the show that I found awkward as he woodenly, puppet-like turned around to the orchestra.

But these were such minor points and at the end of the day it proved to be a truly magnificent show.


“Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”- Helen Keller


Happiness is…a Roy Orbison Concert and listening to a Roy Orbison album


I didn’t fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian


Love is…wishing on a new moon together


The Whole of the Moon – The Waterboys

Highest Chart Position: No.26 23rd November 1985