Colin Morris Reviews Opening Night of New Zealand Festival for The Dominion Post:
REVIEW: Given that I imported the LP of Tubular Bells in 1973, about 18 months before it found a distributor in New Zealand, I was heartily sick of it upon its release here.
I put it away for 35 years, hardly listening to the orchestral, live or anniversary editions that appeared over the years. So I approached this concert with some trepidation.
My approach was to see this as a performance piece, given that it has never been performed in New Zealand before – much as I would view other period albums from the same time: Rick Wakeman’s Six Wives Of Henry VIII (1973), Jean Michelle-Jarre’s Oxygene (1976) and Kraftwerk’s Autobahn (1974).
After the show I found myself walking home with a Cheshire-cat grin upon my face such was the enjoyment of watching two musicians play some 20 instruments, which included percussion, five guitars, four keyboards, a xylophone doubling as a glockenspiel, mandolin, a theremin (a first for me), kazoos, a flute (via the Roland key-board) plus the inevitable tubular bells.
Mike Oldfield, the original composer, has a background in English folk music, hence some of the unusual instrumentation in the work. Coupled with hints of medieval music, Terry Riley’s in C composition and Ravel’s Bolero give the work gravitas and a sense of symphonic pop.
There are serious lapses in the composition where the joints creak as sections don’t quite mesh with each other, but that is Oldfield’s compositional problem not the performers, who are faithful to the original.
In the skilled hands of these two Australians, Daniel Holdsworth and Aidan Roberts, the sheer exuberance, humour and musicianship they portrayed won the capacity crowd.
Their concentration level was self-evident as the work succeeds due in no small part to the pre-programmed sections, which in turn left no room for error.
It was a well-oiled machine that surprisingly gave the work humanity rather than sterility. They deserved the standing ovation; they worked damned hard for it.
Tubular Bells For Two TelstraClear Festival Club, Odlins Plaza , Wednesday night Reviewed by Colin Morris