One album, two men, too many instruments – that’s the tagline as the multi-award winning hit show Tubular Bells For Two plays Worthing’s Pavilion Theatre on Friday, May 10 at 7.30pm.
Daniel Holdsworth and Tom Bamford battle with a stage full of instruments to reproduce Mike Oldfield’s classic Tubular Bells album live. It all started with a simple concept. Daniel and his friend Aidan Roberts were chilling out at home in the Blue Mountains of Australia one Friday night, listening to music over a bottle of wine, when they started to wonder how far Mike Oldfield’s groun-dbreaking multi-tracked album Tubular Bells could be reproduced live.
A one-off fun show for friends with minimal instrumentation proved so popular that they decided to do it again; more and more instruments were added over time, and Tubular Bells For Two was born.
It made its UK debut at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2012, where it wowed critics and audience alike. Tom Bamford replaced Aidan in 2017, but the concept remains the same: the barefoot duo dash around the stage, performing a multitude of instruments live in an intricately-choreographed piece of theatre.
The night will capture the great sense of adventure which lies behind the piece.
“When Mike Oldfield wrote this, he was quite young and quite naïve,” says Daniel. “And that naivety gives you a sense of adventure. You are willing to take more risks than perhaps a more mature and calculating musician would. He created a journey.
“People call it a prog album, but I don’t think that it is that. For me, it equates more to a cinematic experience, like watching a great film, going through all the moods and emotions. With this show, we try to recreate that experience, not just musically, but also in a theatrical sense. Our show is not just a pure replication of the album, but also the spectacle of two people with four hands and four feet between them trying to get to all the instruments in time! We are hoping it also reaches a new audience. We have had quite a lot of Mike Oldfield fans coming to the show and saying ‘Are we coming to see the next Mike Oldfield tribute band?’ The answer to that is no.”
Daniel and Aidan were both singer-songwriters with busy careers in their own right back home. Tubular Bells For Two stemmed from the fact that, long-standing mates, they also shared a love of vinyl and like to get together over a glass of wine to listen to records back in Aus.
“We just happened to be listening to Tubular Bells and just started to try to play along to it.”
And so the idea for the show started to develop. After arranging the music by ear on acoustic guitars, more instruments started to be added from friends, rubbish skips etc and the show was created. Their first set of tubular bells was fashioned from fence posts.”
Among the vast collection of instruments on stage are keyboards, umpteen guitars, bass, mandolin, glockenspiel and loop pedals and, of course, proper tubular bells.
In order to recreate the seamless transitions, the performers have to leap between guitars and pianos and drums (sometimes all three at once), recording and overdubbing loops live on the spot: “The album has a lot of cyclic music in it, so we can use looping.
“At the end of side one, we have got this big finale with the bass repeating. We can put down a bass line and get that bass line repeating while we run around on stage playing all the other bits and pieces.
“But the live looping has to be perfect. If you get something wrong in that loop, you have got to hear that loop for the next ten minutes!”
Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells was released on May 25 1973 by newly formed Virgin Records. It reached number one in charts around the world, selling in excess of 15 million copies.
Tickets for Tubular Bells For Two are on 01903 206 206 and online at http://worthingtheatres.co.uk.