Professor Brian Cox | Live Tour 2017
The SSE Arena, Belfast • Tuesday 23 May 2017
By Marc Leach
Following his sell out show in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall in 2016, highly respected British physician Professor Brian Cox returned to Belfast, this time to a much larger venue – the SSE Arena. No, sadly he isn’t back for a D:Ream reunion but he is back to take his audience on an astrological journey about something he is passionate about – life and its meaning.
Following the horrific tragedies that happened in Manchester where many were both injured and killed while attending an Ariana Grande concert, Brian opened up his heart and his show by paying tribute to his home, a place where he performed the day before the incident itself. He proceeded to read an extract from the late astronomer Carl Sagan’s best selling 1994 book, Pale Blue Dot. It was this reading that not only brought so many emotions to those in attendance, but it set the stage for the topics that were going to be discussed throughout the night.
With a huge screen behind him guiding his audience through the stars and a powerful laser pointer in his hand, Brian was able to juggle between being serious about topics such as light and how scientists such as Albert Einstein observed it, to having fun with his audience. His special guest, comedian Robin Ince from the radio show The Infinite Monkey Cage played a part as well in the comedy throughout the night, from not only trying to throw Brian off but also telling embarrassing stories from their co-hosting on the radio show.
With a rising platform in the centre of the stage, the quirky professor used this the most during the second half to talk about the universe and the origins of life in further detail. The platform itself was able to help him approach an image on the screen, whether it be a planet or a star which made him look so much more smaller; especially from the back of the arena. With a fascinating approach to the origins of life, Brian followed his proceedings with a Q & A section where Robin joined the stage once again to read questions the audience posted online. The interesting thing about this part was the questions were from a wide age group, from 8 to 80 years old, with questions such as ‘what if we didn’t have a moon’ to ‘can you smell your fart in space.’ The fascinating thing about these questions was that Brian was able to answer with such ease, even giving full answers to the silly ones.
With the show drawing to a close and Brian fading out to black on stage, the Belfast audience left feeling in awe at not only the intelligence of the Professor himself but at just how insignificant we are in such an expanding and endless universe. To quote from Sagan’s book, ‘To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.’