It started with a 19-year-old Mike Oldfield in 1973. 1973 didn’t have the technology we have today, just a young man painstakingly layering each track together until he achieved exactly the sound he wanted. Virgin Records signed him and as they say, the rest is history.
Roll forward forty million copies and fifty years later to 2023 and that very same album, “Tubular Bells” is still as well-known as it was then. But rather than Mike Oldfield touring to play it, we are given something unexpected and just that little bit different. The tour is entitled “Tubular Bells for Two – One Album, Two men and over Twenty instruments.” Having been brought up on the original album, this was a must-see concert for me.
The Tubular Bells sit on stage exactly where they deserve to be, dead centre…pride of place. After all, that’s the title. Tubular Bells. If I am honest, it was taking all the self-control I had not to climb on stage and have a bash at them! Those bells were surrounded by (at least) twenty other instruments. It’s impossible to count them all but if you’re like me, you will find yourself eyeing the stage and looking for everything you’d expect. Keyboards; electric, Spanish and acoustic guitars; mandolin; percussion; drums; glockenspiel and everything in between!
As the show starts and that familiar theme is played, you find yourself relaxing into your seat. Daniel Holdsworth and Tom Bamford are superstars. They play everything. They play standing up and sitting down. They run the stage with military precision to ensure that everything is in place. This is an album that requires some work with the loop pedals to ensure that everything runs well. There are mistakes, every show for any artist has them, but these guys know what they’re doing and quickly reset to run that section again.
The original music is faithfully reproduced on stage, but this does mean that there are the odd lapses where sections just don’t quite fit. However, that is down to the original composition and the fact that our performers gift us a faithful reproduction. When I came to the show, I knew what I wanted to see. Tubular Bells for Two delivered it. (And yes, I have dug out the music again to relisten to!)
If you get a chance, go see it!