Tubular Bells for Two

Mike Oldfield’s horror-film-famous score performed by two

 By Leeor Adar

Mike Oldfield’s debut masterpiece, Tubular Bells, sent shivers through our dreams for decades after its feature in the 1973 film, The Exorcist. Oldfield’s record was the first release of Virgin Records, where the ever-entrepreneurial Richard Branson took a chance on Oldfield’s unusual sound.

It’s worth noting here that the piece in its entirety is so much more varied and beautiful than those first few notes that became horror-film-famous. Any progressive rock aficionado listening to the whole recording would have to admit its multitude of instruments and complexities make it a hard live performance.

How about performed in its entirety by two?

The concept is kind of insane, but it has been a successful endeavour by Daniel Holdsworth and Aidan Roberts, who co-created the performance in 2010 and were surprised at the appetite of their Sydney Fringe Festival audience. It not only become a sell out show, but also received the Best Music Moment award. After performing extensively through Europe and the United States, Daniel Holdsworth returns with a new partner in madness, Thomas Bamford, for this year’s Australian tour.

In all frankness, I did not know what to expect. I have a strong familiarity with Mike Oldfield’s music through my mother, who sailed this globe through the 1970’s and is a bonafide authority on very cool music of the era. It was a treat to hear Tubular Bells live, and performed by two men with 20 instruments.

Full house again on the Saturday night performance at the Melbourne Arts Centre, and the audience was transfixed, whether on their heydays, or just awed by the sound and the sheer hard work of Holdsworth and Bamford. It’s a sight to behold, as the men expertly craft the sound and attempt to keep true to Oldfield’s music. It is an exercise in fortitude, as Tubular Bells demands its maker’s rhythm and soul. One moment Holdsworth is smashing his drums and growling, and the next on guitar churning out such peaceful melodies.

Tubular Bells for Two is a must-see for music fans anywhere in the world. The music if fantastic, and even where a moment is missed, as my mother keenly pointed out, it was breathtaking to watch. Holdsworth regaled the audience with some of their tour stories, including the man who found him after a show and pointed out all the times the music they performed did not exactly meet the timing of Oldfield’s piece.

For the kooky diehard fans, they will absolutely enjoy Tubular Bells for Two for the reminiscence, and emerging fans will love the performance and music.

Both will agree that it is an engaging, sometimes funny, and totally skilled performance.

Tubular Bells for Two was performed at Melbourne Arts Centre 15 – 16 June as part of their tour of Victoria and New South Wales that runs until 14 July. For a full list of tour dates and ticket information take a look at the Tubular Bells official website.