Gig Review: Tubular Bells for Two at the Festival of Colour
One album. Two men. Too many instruments.
Aidan Roberts and Daniel Holdsworth enthralled the audience at the Central Lakes Trust Crystal Palace with their performance of Mike Oldfield’s seminal work Tubular Bells.
In cramped conditions on a tiny stage, surrounded by four keyboards, seven guitars, two drum kits and numerous other instruments (including the eponymous tubular bells) they combined superb musicianship with a physical performance that flirted with disaster. The audience was kept on the edge of their seats as they wondered how the performers would cope with dropped drumsticks and bell hammers along with the demands of scrambling from one instrument to another, all in bare feet.
Aided by an unobtrusive and judicious use of loops recorded live, they demonstrated impressive multitasking with both musicians frequently playing two instruments simultaneously to build dense layers of sound. Sadly lacking only the fruity tones of the original master of ceremonies, Vivian Stanshall, the first half built to the anticipated announcements of the instruments and tubular bell solo before fading out with acoustic guitars.
After the break to “turn the record over” the performance increased in intensity with an energetic drum duet accompanied by enigmatic prehistoric vocals and kazoo accompaniment in ‘Caveman’ before the lyrical ‘Ambient Guitars’ segued into an energetic and increasingly frenetic ‘Sailors Hornpipe’ to end the show. The album that launched Virgin Records and the careers of both Mike Oldfield and Richard Branson is forty years later as fresh as ever and given a new lease of life by two accomplished entertainers.