dvd & video review
Tubular Bells III (premiere live performance London)
There are only two reason why - if you already own the two video tapes of this shows- you should buy this DVD: first, you are a fanatic of Oldfield's music (so I am) or second: you have just bought a "Home Cinema" system and you want to make good use of the money you invested. Why? Basically, although the content is important -nevertheless these are the world premieres of the second and third part of Oldfield's most famous work- and the sound and image have gone trough the logical improvement, there isn't much else.
Obviously, being Mike Oldfield, the music still retains a certain magic, (even with the "Ambient" touch of the "Second Bell" and the dance flavor of the "Third Bell").Of course, the sound mixing is fantastic and the image is clean and sharp, even so, you can't help to feel like a moron during the two hours that the whole thing lasts, specially when both sides of the DVD are used and this makes you think about an important space for extras.
Anyway, for those who have never seen these concerts, they encapsulate the first time of public performance for these records. In both shows, a special scenery was chosen. In the 1992 premiere (for Tubular Bells II) a medieval Scottish castle was used as the landscape for the first update of Mike's music. The musician appears with a sport style, with no shame at combining sport shows and a good suite. Supported by a gigantic band (or rather a small orchestra) Oldfield performs a perfect copy of the record's sound (helped by playback, not samplers yet) with some funny moments as when the leader of the ceremony plays a caveman during "Altered State" and as the country-style finale, with banjos and cowboy hats included.
After a leap in time, we arrive in the year 1998, Oldfield appears "dressed to kill": white leather and fake blonde hair, in other words, the consequences of spending a year in Ibiza.
In this case, Oldfield reduces his band to a group of selected musicians: Percussionist Alasdair Malloy has worked with Bjork (in her Unplugged), bassist Carrie Melbourne -who also plays stick- appeared with Babylon Zoo (and she is married to ReGenesis' keyboard player), also, drummer Jody Linscott was part of Pete Townsend's band, Robin Smith (keyboards) was the musical director of the previous show commented above. Pepsi who did backing vocals for Wham! also appears here as well as Rosa Cedron (from Lunar na Lubre) playing vocals and cello.
Due to the rain and other technical problems, this performance is less perfect than it's predecessor, but this problems make warmer a music that after it's first listening sounds distant which is strange given the personality of Oldfield's previous work. There are curious moments as when the lights of the set go off during "Man in the Rain" and a good part of "The top of the morning", the mistake when playing "serpent dream" on Spanish guitar or watching Richard Branson getting wet. Also, there is some fun in hearing the audience disapproving the "encore" ("Far above the clouds" instead a more historic track) but the band plays on...
This probably the most annoying characteristic of this disc. In the original TV broadcast, Oldfield added some color to the performance by adding "Family Man" and "Moonlight Shadow" to the set, that aside, he kicked off the show with a 15 minute extract of the first "Tubular Bells"...As stated before this is a fanatics' item.