REVIEW: Tubular Bells For Two
Written by Margaret Chrystall
“THAT’S a lot of instruments,” said the man in the row behind as we sat down for Tubular Bells For Two at Eden Court on Monday night.
There looked to be about 20 – and we couldn’t even see the kazoos, then.
Drums, guitars, keyboards and glockenspiel, synthesisers and like an altar in the middle, the stand of gleaming tubular bells.
But it wasn’t till bare-footed duo Aidan Roberts and Daniel Holdsworth had come onstage to get the familiar repetitive first melody started that you began to realise the physical challenge they’d set themselves to bring the 1973 classic album to life.
Each sequence of hand and foot moves – from drums to keyboards while adding in the odd guitar line inbetween – was like a musical version of the game Twister.
But musicians and audience, we were all players, willing on the little miracle of two men playing the music for 30!
There were moments when your heart beat a little faster when it looked as if one extra adjustment to a synth knob or a crouch to the ground to adjust a pedal would mean the musician couldn’t get back into his seat or get the guitar round his neck in time to do the next bit.
But there were no disasters. Just the constant yoga workout for the pair of bending, stretching leaning forward running round the back of their stations to tackle the second drumkit or bash the bells. Just once in the second half did Daniel reach out behind him to bang a drum – and missed, the two grinning at each other as the music moved on.
After one manic bit of running around, Aidan reached for a can and gulped down a mouthful making the crowd laugh.
The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah band’s Vivian Stanshall was the original album’s master of ceremonies, belting out the names of the instruments joining the building sound to the first side’s climax “grand piano”, two slightly distorted guitars” etc.
Aidan and Daniel’s voices took that on – also the high women’s voices that follow plus tlater kazoos helped both alter their vocals plus the strangely comic growly grunts of the “Piltdown man” caveman section in the second half.
First a break “…while we change the record over!”
Returning, Aidan joked: “We just have to retune all the guitars onstage.”
But he added: “It’s lovely to be in Inverness. We spent a lot of time in Scotland last year, and we’ve just been playing in Germany and England, but this morning it felt like coming home and we had a sigh of relief getting off the plane.”
By the time we got to the sailor’s hornpipe at the end of “side two”, the crowd was clapping along and many people attempted a standing ovation.
Someone yelled out “Ommadawn!” – one of Mike Oldfield’s follow-up albums and though by then, you’d have thought the duo would have fancied putting their hardworking bare feet up backstage, they played a section of it as an encore.
This time the crowd were instantly on their feet in tribute to that one last labour of love from the musicians.