THERE is a risk with rock opera that it can be 'of its time'. Something that was embraced as revolutionary half a century ago can seem rather dated to contemporary audiences.

But Jesus Christ Superstar - which began as a concept album in 1970 and became a musical theatre mega hit - continues to send shivers up the spine. With hand-held microphones, guitar solos and a high energy ensemble working the stage, there's a cool rock festival vibe to this current production, originally staged among the trees in Regent's Park when it opened in 2016.

It's a thrilling re-imagining of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's much-loved musical, telling the story of the final days of Christ leading to the Crucifixion.

Tom Scutt's stark set, bathed in Lee Curran's eerie lighting, is dominated by a tower of scaffolding and a huge crucifix laid across the floor, like a catwalk. Rock gig paraphernalia - lighting truss, cables, amps, mic stands - are effective props, and the excellent live band is visible behind the scaffolding. The effect is edgy and atmospheric, culminating in the Crucifixion scene, arising from a hazy fog of light.

This is a rock gig experience that strips the show back to the haunting songs of its concept album roots, while keeping it relevant for a modern audience. Drew McOnie's intense choreography has the terrific young ensemble moving as one, in costumes of muted colours, with a mounting sense of hysteria, in rousing highlights What's the Buzz, Heaven On Their Minds and Hosanna.

At the helm of this rock gig are the 'frontmen' - Ian McIntosh as Jesus and Shem Omari James as Judas. Both are mesmerising. You can't take your eyes off Ian McIntosh; tender and charismatic with an exquisite voice that soars in Gethsemane.

Shem Omari James fills the stage with a powerful, visceral performance, his hands dipped and forever marked in silver paint.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Shem Omari James gave a powerful performance as Judas Shem Omari James gave a powerful performance as Judas (Image: Paul Coltas)

Strong performances too from Hannah Richardson as Mary Magdalene - I Don't Know How to Love Him was a beautiful highlight - and Charlie McCullagh as a louche Pilate, in leather jacket and trailing mic, with inner conflict bubbling beneath the bad boy veneer.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Joshua Hawkins and Hannah Richardson Joshua Hawkins and Hannah Richardson (Image: Paul Coltas)

It's quite a moment when the Pharisees appear on stage, leather-clad and leaning into their microphones, like a sinister boy band. The contrasting vocals of Jad Habchi's Caiaphas and Matt Bateman's Annas create rising terror, and in 39 Lashes they are a looming, menacing presence, as glitter is sprinkled onto the bloodied body of Jesus.

The songs of this show are as powerful, moving and, particularly in Herod's Song, camp and cruel as they ever were. This beautifully staged, brilliantly performed production allows the songs to breathe - while breathing new life into the presentation of them.

* Jesus Christ Superstar runs at the Alhambra until Saturday, December 2.