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


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

3.93 | 48 ratings

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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

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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