Tubular Bells – The Original

Tubular Bells The Original Adelaide Fringe 2017Adelaide Fringe. Septuplet. Nexus Arts. 25 Feb 2017


Last week it was Tubular Bells performed by (only) two musicians! One week later Mike Oldfield’s iconic 1973 composition makes a return but this time put through its paces by an ensemble of seven, who prosaically call themselves…Septuplet.


Septuplet comprises Kate White (MD, vocals, piccolo), Dianne Davis (piano), Lisa Robinson (keyboards, vocals), Dennis Johnson (percussion, including tubular bells), Justin Hartwig (guitars, mandolin, vocals), Danny Gyory (guitars, bass and vocals), and Dave Tagg (bass, keyboard, vocals).


To a person the musicians were well disciplined and ‘tight’, with very few mistakes. In some respects, Tubular Bells inhabits the world of minimalist composition, and minimalism can become quite hypnotic and surreal, which makes it the perfect musical environment for performance errors to quietly slip in. However, White (and Davis) kept the outfit together.


The programme notes credit Tagg with the particular transcription that was used for the performance. It foregrounded particular riffs and counterpoint melodies more noticeably than what might have been expected, and the ‘all up’ mixing made this even more obvious. The ‘sound contour’ of the composition was at times lost. The famous ostinato bass line pattern that enters mid-way through Part 1 was especially prominent to the extent that one might have thought that Tubular Bells was ‘all about the bass’!


Nexus was almost full to capacity, and the audience was visibly enjoying what they were hearing. There weren’t too many hands or feet or nodding heads that were not discreetly beating in time. Tubular Bells is catchy, spine-tingling music, and after more than forty years it is still intriguing audiences as they allow the catchy melody lines, harmonies and complex polyrhythms to transport them to all manner of musical places.


The encore of the very catchy Portsmouth, featuring White on the piccolo, delighted the audience.


If you are curious about Tubular Bells, and perhaps have only heard it on recordings, this event is worth taking in.


Kym Clayton


When: 25 Feb to 19 Mar
Where: Nexus Arts

Bookings: adelaidefringe.com.au

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