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Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells II & III Live (DVD) CD (album) cover

TUBULAR BELLS II & III LIVE (DVD)

Mike Oldfield

Crossover Prog


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Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is a pretty decent DVD to own, recorded in 1998/9. Tubular Bells II recorded in Edinburgh Castle and Tubular bells III at the Horse Guards Parade in London. Both concerts recorded on one DVD ( Flip sides). Musically I would have to say Tubular Bells II is the definite highlight and a great venue with the castle backdrops adding a fitting mood to the ambience. For me TBII has always been a superior work from Mike Oldfield as in it being in his top eight best albums. The musicianship is spot on here and Mike Oldfield seems pretty relaxed too. I would recommend his live version of Weightless and the brilliant Tattoo where The Royal Scotts Dragoon Guards get into full swing with the Pipes and Drums

TBIII has some glitches or feaux pars, a couple of times from the female vocalists and the weather was appalling, which does not help especially if you are playing outdoors to thousands of people. It was interesting to also see Richard Branson in virtually front row seats enjoying the evening.The duo must have made their peace. Whilst TBIII is not as strong a body of work it was still a decent album. The Tubular Bell brand had peaked here I think! Highlights here would be Jewel In The Crown, Outcast and the climactic Secrets. Pay special attention to Jody Linscott on percussion and Catherine Rockhill on piano.Overall a very pleasant couple of hours and nice to see Mike Oldfield in a relaxed mood particularly at Edinburgh Castle.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#181713)
Posted Thursday, September 04, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars Man in the rain

This is the only dual side DVD I own. Side one contains the premiere live performance of Tubular Bells II in Edinburgh and side two contains the premiere live performance of Tubular Bells III in London. The former is an overblown full-on symphony-orchestra-with-Rock-instruments featuring a conductor, a "master of ceremonies", four or five keyboard players, five or six guitarists, four or five vocalists, etc., etc. In my opinion this bloated stage set is a bit overblown and Mike himself is a bit lost in the process. I haven't yet heard the studio version of Tubular Bells II so I cannot compare the studio and the live versions, but I'm not particularly impressed by what I find here. The piece lacks direction and it suffers from all of the same problems that the original Tubular Bells suffered from - only magnified here! - but it does not have the legacy of that classic to back it up.

Mike follows the formula set up by the original Tubular Bells quite closely for Tubular Bells II and many of the same musical elements are present on both. But it often feels as if he is trying to outdo himself here. It seems almost as if he is trying to cram every instrument and every style of music known to man into the same performance! The vocal section towards the end is truly abysmal combining silly growling vocals a la the first Tubular Bells with something of a childish female Rap (sic!). Misguided, to say the least! Having that said there are several nice passages too, particularly Mike's own guitar performances. But the visual aspect is somewhat lost on me. Mike is the star, but the cameras focus too much on other people.

Tubular Bells III is a much more structured and focused piece. It is also a braver in its departures from the Tubular Bells-formula, including, as it does, many dance music influences. Instead of relying on Tubular Bells I and II as blueprints, Mike combines elements of his whole career into Tubular Bells III without trying to do everything at once. Again, I have not heard the studio version so I cannot compare this performance with it. But what I hear here is a clever mix of modern dance music, Pop and Rock. This London performance is thus much more to my liking compared to the Edinburgh performance. Mike is a bit more confident and has a stronger stage presence here as well.

Highlights, for me, are Man In The Rain and Far Above The Clouds. The former is a moving Pop song similar to Mike's famous Moonlight Shadow. This one is sung by a gorgeous black woman with a great voice, and - suitably for the occasion, creating the precise right atmosphere - it actually rains during the performance of this song! Far Above The Clouds is the bombastic ending and the climax of the whole show is when we hear a child (pre-recorded) speak the words 'Tu-bu-lar-bells' followed by - surprise! - tubular bells. This part is actually played twice, first as part of the original performance and then straight after as an encore!

This DVD is worth having for Tubular Bells III alone despite the shortcomings of Tubular Bells II

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#212388)
Posted Saturday, April 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars The tolling of the iron bell calls the faithful to their knees

Strangely perhaps, it took until 1999 for Mike Oldfield to release this his first DVD. To be fair, the "Tubular Bells 2" gig had been broadcast on TV, and had been out on VHS video for some time though.

This set captures two live performances of the second and third variants of "Tubular Bells". Each occupies one side of a reversible disc, neither including any extras or additional tracks.

Taking TB2 first, this was one of the rare occasions when the guardians of Edinburgh Castle in Scotland allowed a rock gig to take place on the esplanade in front of the Castle, where the annual military tattoo is held. This highly photogenic location is not fully exploited visually, as the gig takes place at night. Nevertheless, the effect is still one of high emotion, and Oldfield himself seems to be genuinely enjoying the event.

Musically, TB2 was a largely faithful re-interpretation of the original "Tubular bells", although the music is actually new throughout. The piece lends itself well to the live environment, the necessary changes to the multi-layered studio version being applied sympathetically. It seems clear that a fair amount of post production dubbing has been done, especially in terms of the vocals. I seem to recall too that the highlight of the set, the appearance of a pipe band for the "Tattoo" section, was also reported to be dubbed. This does not however have any adverse impact whatsoever.

There is a slight variation right at the end, where the country band section closes the studio album. Here, it is followed by a brief reprise of "The bell", making for a more suitable live conclusion.

John Gordon Sinclair ("Gregory's girl" - film, "We have a dream" - Scottish World Cup song) acts as Master of Ceremonies, providing introductions for the instruments. He also takes on the role of the Piltdown man later. His controlled anarchy is perfect, especially when he makes V signs at the audience just prior to his departure. Put simply, this was not just a gig, it was an event.

"Tubular bells 3" was recorded by Oldfield while living in Ibiza, and as such derives some of its influences from the dance music of that island. This leads to a glorious mixture of traditional "Bells" and something altogether more contemporary. The links with the original album are still there, but they are much less overt this time around. This recording took place in the UK capital, London; the location being Horseguard's parade, where the annual trooping of the colour takes place. There is no royalty present (as far as we can see) but Oldfield's former mentor Richard Branson is obviously back on the Christmas card list.

The atrocious weather on the night is testimony to the risks inherent in an outdoor gig in the United Kingdom, even in summer. Nevertheless, the performance is superb, bringing out the full majesty of this criminally under-appreciated work. Recognising the climactic properties of the bells themselves, here they are kept in reserve until the final section of the suite "Far above the clouds". When they do arrive, their impact is nothing short of breathtaking. The final two sections are reprised as a mini-encore.

In summary, this is essential viewing, not just for Oldfield fans, but for anyone looking for a DVD which captures a couple of genuine events. The music here is wonderful and the settings are awesome.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#269261)
Posted Tuesday, March 02, 2010 | Review Permalink

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