Musical heathens such as myself may only recogniseTubular Bellsas the creepy-as-all-hell piece of music fromThe Exorcist. Experimental performers Aidan Roberts and Daniel Holdsworth have proven that there’s far more to it, and that Mike Oldfield’s classic album continues to be incredibly popular, even 31 years on from its initial release. The duo is bringing the hitTubular Bells For Twoshow back to Sydney for one night only at the Riverside Theatre in Parramatta. Roberts discusses the show and how it originated.
“It really just happened by accident,” he explains. “We were sitting around and listening to records one night and had Tubular Bells on, which I hadn’t listened to since I was a teenager. I’d forgotten how intricate and interesting it was, and Danny and I just got entranced by it and started working out how to play little bits on the guitar.
“We were thinking about it over the next few days and Danny asked, ‘Why don’t we just try and learn the whole thing on two guitars, just for fun?’ So we started transcribing it and before too long we had the crazy idea of trying to perform it and make it sound as much like the record as possible with just two guys. It just sort of developed from there and we went a bit nuts, got hold of loop pedals and all kinds of stuff and it turned into a show.”
After an initial sold-out gig in the Blue Mountains, the pair realised that the show could be something special.
“We knew that there were people who would be really excited about it,” he says. “But as we started selling out shows we thought, ‘This has a really broad appeal.’” The potential was proven when Roberts and Holdsworth started performing internationally. “We knew that we had to go to England and do a tour there because it’s where [the album] comes from. We ended up doing so many gigs and met some really cool people. It’s been a lot more than a fun recreation of Tubular Bells. It’s also expanded our musical palate and it’s been such a nice experience.”
When asked if the success of the show has been based primarily on the nostalgia of the audience, Roberts says, “There is a heavy nostalgia element. A lot of people come to the show to relive their youth. But also, there’s people who have never heard it before and just think that it sounds interesting; they really enjoy it too.
“I think there’s a dual excitement with the crowd, they love revisiting it and they love seeing what we do with it. They’re so curious about how two guys are going to do this onstage … [Tubular Bells] stands the test of time. You hear it now and it’s still a really interesting piece of work and doesn’t really have any dorky stuff in it.”
For those who are worried about how accurate Tubular Bells For Two is to the original, you needn’t fear. “It’s very true to it. That was always our goal. We wanted to take the listener on the same journey they go through while listening to the album. To do that we had to do so much rehearsal and pay really close attention to tiny little bits in the details of the music … There’s a few things that we’ve had to leave out, because we just don’t have enough hands, but we’ve found a way to arrange the music so it still gives the effect of what happens on the album.”