Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells For Two at De Montfort Hall, 23rd May
I’d been looking forward to this show for some time; I like Mike Oldfield’s debut a great deal, and was more that a little interested to hear how these two young Australian musicians (Aidan Roberts and Daniel Holdsworth) were going to interpret one of British popular music’s most iconic and popular records.
Both are skilled multi-instrumentalists with a genuine feel for Oldfield’s work, and they certainly recreated the record with some accuracy, and both moved around the stage, placing themselves behind or next to various instruments in a way that suggested many hours of practice and military precision. I think I spotted one or two mishaps, but nothing worth mentioning and it feels like nit picking bringing it up.
Several sections are worth special attention; in the first half (side one of the album) the introductory piano piece (later used as The Exorcist theme) was very well done, and there was a palpable recognition from the audience – mostly middle aged and longtime fans – that everything was going to be okay. They lengthened the first half to 35 minutes without it overstaying its welcome, and of course, concluding with the “Finale”, with Roberts recreating Viv Stanshall’s Master Of Ceremonies vocal – he needs serious work on his accent.
Part two was considerably shorter and far more percussive, though “The Sailor’s Hornpipe”, when it appeared, caught some of us by surprise. The pair were dragged back for an encore, which I didn’t recognize, though it seemed to incorporate some parts of “Tubular Bells”, and we were done. It’s not a long show by any means; 7:30pm to 9:15pm, with a 20 minute interval, but lots of fun. Best of all was it never felt like an evening with a tribute band - Roberts and Holdsworth obviously take what they’re doing seriously and completely transcend glib labeling.