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Tubular Bells for Two

Feb 25, 2015

Aidan Roberts and Daniel Holdsworth are two brilliant, energetic and talented musicians whose performance of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells in The Factory in The Garden of Unearthly Delights on a beautiful summer’s night during the Adelaide Fringe had several hundred jam-packed audience members on their feet screaming and applauding.

The two musicians sat on opposite sides of the stage, surrounded by keyboards, synthesisers, guitars, a plectrum in their mouths and within reach of drums, cymbals and more guitars. Roberts and Holdsworth were totally immersed in and committed to their music; the entire room was entirely engaged with, and transported by, the experience.

Oldfield’s score begins gently then gradually incorporates more instruments and steadily progresses to a climax that announces the use of tubular bells (a moment received rapturously by the audience).

Tubular Bells is a ground-breaking, iconic album that is easily recognised by its distinctive musical themes, guitar riffs and vocal effects. A performance by an orchestra would be impressive but for only two musicians to create a symphonic effect is an amazing achievement.

Roberts and Holdsworth often played a keyboard with one hand, a synthesiser with the other, and kept time with a foot with a guitar balanced on their laps while looking furtively where they had to run to in order to play a new instrument.

Roberts and Holdsworth are quite extraordinary in the range of instruments they play: keyboard, glockenspiel, electric guitar, Spanish guitar, bass guitar, mandolin, drums and, of course, tubular bells (the mere mention of these instruments will strike a chord or two with Tubular Bells lovers and will have them salivating in anticipation of hearing – live – the very familiar musical themes and patterns).

A significant element of the audience’s enjoyment of this performance is to see the two musicians alternating the instruments they are playing and having to run to their next instrument in order to play in time and on the beat. The pair are physically dynamic and, once they have their instruments, they know how to play them. Their lead guitar work would grace any rock band and Daniel Holdsworth’s drum solo from Side 2 was uplifting and inspiring.

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Originally Tubular Bells required more than 30 musicians to perform it but Holdsworth and Roberts, perform the work – just the two of them – playing 20 instruments.

Ticket sales reflect the appeal of Tubular Bells for Two to the general public: it will be one of – if not the – outstanding performances of the Fringe. If you know Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells you wouldn’t want to miss this performance and, if you don’t, you wouldn’t hope to have a better introduction to it.

Tubular Bells for Two from Laughing Stock Productions and Shortwalk is playing at The Factory in the Garden of Unearthly Delights until March 15, excluding March 2, at 8pm.

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