First Look: Tubular Bells For Two

Mike Oldfield's debut epic reworked for a duo...

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Fresh from a highly successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe, Aussies Aidan Roberts and Daniel Holdsworth are taking their madcap show Tubular Bells For Two on the road.

Playing all the instruments themselves, with a supporting cast of drum triggers, loop pedals and an incredible talent for multi-tasking, it’s not hyperbole to say that the show really has to be seen to be believed.

Nevertheless, this probably doesn’t concern many of those in the capacity audience tonight, as the duo launch into the opening of Tubular Bells, with its iconic piano motif. The deftness with which instruments are switched, played one per hand and, in some cases, moved around the stage is incredible, as indeed is the fact that these musicians have even been able to transcribe and learn all the parts in the first place.

During the grand finale, Roberts even manages a surprisingly convincing turn as Vivian Stanshall in his role as the master of ceremonies, hinting at exactly the right amount of delight when he announces each instrument.

There follows a short intermission for the band to “turn over the record”, before they’re back. “Who’s seen us before?” Holdsworth asks, to which there are a number of assenting voices. “Who’s never heard the album before, and is hearing it for the first time?” Again, there are more murmurs from the crowd, and a very confident cheer here and there. “I promise you, this is really how it sounds.” Cue laughter. With an introduction of, “We’ve got one more song tonight, it’s called Side Two” the band are off again.

Side two is the more guitar heavy of the progressions, and it’s felt very strongly here, with Daniel barely getting a chance to put the axe down. When he does, it’s to take to the drumkit for the Caveman section, which must be baffling to the uninitiated.

After a surprisingly brief segue, Aidan switches to the acoustic guitsr, and Daniel joins him to play the sea shanty that ends it all. There are clearly some people in the crowd who’ve forgotten this section, or indeed simply not been prepared to see it live in its full foot-stomping glory, because the mood in the room is only slightly shy of breaking into incredulous laughter.

Having downed instruments, the pair take a standing ovation, joking about encoring with Jeff Wayne’s The War Of The Worlds, explaining, “As you can tell, we’re massive concept album nerds.” Instead, they play an arrangement of the first piece from Ommadawn, ending with a slight return of the Tubular Bells motif.