Fifty years ago, Mike Oldfield stepped into the studio to record what was to be his seminal album. Something the likes of which the world had never heard before, his almost entirely instrumental Tubular Bells was a mixture of prog rock, jazz and electronica and it lit a spark in the imagination of the public.
A great feat considering Mike Oldfield was only nineteen years old when it was recorded, and he played all the instruments himself. It also made a name for Richard Branson’s Virgin Records which still goes strong today alongside all of Branson’s other ventures. However, the music is what’s remembered so well.
Now, the Tubular Bells 50th Anniversary Concert has gone ahead after years of trying to get it off the ground. Initially conceived as a ballet, it came around to a live performance by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra accompanied by an Australian acrobatic company called Circa and the melding of the two works beautifully.
However, all was not so easily done as many people were put together and most of which weren’t all that familiar with the other’s line of work. Although, talking to musical director Robin Smith who has been a long-time collaborator of Mike Oldfield’s and Tom Newman who worked on the album alongside him, fans of the album can see how the love of the music helped put together the concert.
The behind-the-scenes documentary that goes alongside the concert documents how it all came together. Taking stories about the making of the album from Tom Newman and his relationship with Mike Oldfield to the finer technical details of putting the production together, it feels like something that took a tremendous amount of work and a lot of good timing to get right.
Director Robin Smith knows the music inside and out and is also aware of how dedicated and precise the fans are about hearing the work they love.
A time where the world wasn’t particularly helpful with putting live performances together, the documentary shows them all working in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic after not being able to do so for so long. However, despite creative differences and a little flood it all paid off for a spectacular performance.
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