Posted November 21, 2013 by Osa Hale in Show Reviews

Thomas Dolby // 11-19-13 // Alberta Rose Theatre


Thomas Dolby has been a successful musician for longer than some successful musicians have  been alive. Dolby rose to prominence as part of the new-wave pop phenomenon of the early 80s, and he hasn’t stopped being a prolific musician on the edge of technology since.

It is no surprise that Dolby has continued to innovate; he has been a producer and a composer, working with films and video games, and his music itself explores the limits of technology, both thematically and in practice. Now on his latest tour, Thomas Dolby is introducing the world to his latest creation: his first film, The Invisible Lighthouse.

To simply shoot, direct, star in, and produce a film would not be enough for Dolby; the production had to have a live element. The presentation of most movies is so impersonal, and The Invisible Lighthouse is captivating audiences precisely because it eschewed the traditional approach.

The people who filled the seats of the Alberta Rose Tuesday night were met by Thomas Dolby on one side of the stage, narrating the film with speech and song. Dolby was not alone; across from him on the stage was Blake Leyh, a sound designer creating live effects and occasionally playing guitar along with the movie.

Before their very ears and eyes, the audience experienced the film come to life with waves crashing and boots crunching and wind turbines whirring. The film is an exploration of memory, focused on Dolby’s own childhood. The focal point of the entire film is his beloved lighthouse, which he describes as a comforting constant throughout his early years, and which has long been doomed to be shut down.

As Dolby’s tiny coastal hometown continues its gradual descent into the North Sea, which he says will someday eat the coastline whole, the artist explores the history of the land and of his own family. The entire storyline is part autobiography, part history lesson, and part poetry, accompanied by Dolby’s acclaimed voice and musical talent.

After a delightful and thought-provoking hour, the audience was left wondering: what is memory and how can we pick the true ones apart from the false? Perhaps, as special guest Storm Large put it, “memory is a moving target.” The film, however, is unforgettable.

Osa Hale



    Mark Bunster

    So what role did Storm play? That’s what I wanna know.

      Osa Hale

      At every performance on this tour, Dolby brings a special (local) celebrity guest or two up onstage after the show. They discuss the film and its themes, and in this case, Thomas and Storm further discussed early childhood memories and the role they play in one’s adult lives… among other things.


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