Review: Tubular Bells for Two

Australian Tour
Until 24 November

British musician Mike Oldfield was still in his teens when he recorded his first studio album, the iconic number one chart topper Tubular Bells.

It was the first release on Richard Branson’s fledgling label Virgin Records and went on to sell tens of millions of copies.

Sales surged when Tubular Bells’ opening theme was used in the soundtrack on the Oscar winning horror film The Exorcist (1973).

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the seminal album, the two sides of which run for a combined total of 49 minutes and 16 seconds.

Tubular Bells for Two sees Daniel Holdsworth and Tom Bamford recreate those evocative sounds, as they juggle more than 20 instruments live on stage.

As one would turn over the record, the boys take a short breather and chat to us about their journey.

Nearly 15 years ago, Daniel and Aidan Roberts ventured into the unknown at a pub in the Harbour City, as part of Sydney Fringe.

Someone from Arts Centre Melbourne saw them and booked them for a week-long gig in the Fairfax Studio.

The show has now been performed nearly 500 times in close to 20 countries throughout the UK, Europe, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Tom Bamford replaced Aidan Roberts in the lineup in 2017.

Featuring a wide variety of styles, from gentle to raucous, the lads are rushed off their feet, as they dash around a sea of instruments.

The stage is set up with the large golden pipes as its most appropriate centrepiece.

Keyboards, guitars, bass, drums, flute and more are all part of the repertoire, which ranges from the melodic to the frenzied.

It is an inspired show. It unfolds with good humour (watch for the flute being flung) in front of a devoted audience, which appreciates the musicianship and spectacle.

Just like Oldfield himself, who did something decidedly left field five decades ago, Tubular Bells for Two started with the unconventional and continues to resonate.

Both the album and this rendition of it make for superb listening and watching.

Jump on board, for – according to the boys – 2023 will be their last hurrah replicating the complete sounds of Tubular Bells.

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Alex First

Alex First

Alex First believes all people have a story to tell, if only a good playwright can prize it out of them. Alex has a natural curiosity about the world and believes a strong narrative, or narrative with music, can open the door to subjects about which he knows little. Like his parents before him, theatre is his passion – a passion with emotional resonance, one that moves and excites him. He brings decades’ experience as an arts’ connoisseur to his role as a critic.
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