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Mike Oldfield (1953 – ) will probably best be remembered
as the composer of “Tubular Bells,” the theme of which
was used for the film, “The Exorcist.” It was derived from
his first 1973 album of the same name. Since then, he’s
released many other albums including “Hergest Ridge”
from 1974, “Ommadawn” from 1975, and 1983’s
“Crisis,” to name a few. Oldfield is a multi-instrumentalist
who often doubles on several instruments, and he’s carved
out a niche for himself by combining elements of Folk,
New Age, Celtic, Ambient, Pop, and World Music. He has
also composed scores for movies and television,
including “The Killing Fields.”

By the time Oldfield performed this 105-minute concert
during the 1981 Montreux Festival, he had released six
albums and was quite popular on the international
music scene. On this occasion, he was joined by
vocalist Maggie Reilly, bassist Rick Fenn, Tim Cross
on keyboards, and Mike Frye and Morris Pert on drums
and percussion. Most of the time, Oldfield played either
the electric or the acoustic guitar, occasionally foraying
to the bass guitar, mandolin and/or keyboards.
Apparently, the guitar is Oldfield’s “main” instrument.

While his music is commonly described as “progressive,”
I would definitely refer to it as “progressive-lite.”
The melodies were attractive, but their repetitive,
ostinato-like use and the paucity of harmonic invention
made this a dull show for me. This is music for those
who don’t like challenges, and I found the entire
experience to be maddeningly frustrating. It was a shame,
because Oldfield and his featured players were clearly
talented musicians. To be fair, this type of instrumental
music seems better represented by studio recordings
versus live performances. In fact, I remember being
more impressed when I heard Oldfield’s aforementioned
albums, during the 1980’s. Then again, I’ve grown a lot
as a listener since that time. Who knows what effect
those records would have on me now?

At any rate, the audience was very responsive to the
band’s performance. The camera work was good,
and the recorded sound was fair. It’s obvious to me
that the tracks, such as “QE2 Medley,” “Punkadiddle,”
“Platinum, Parts 1-4,” and the ubiquitous “Tubular Bells”
have a following, but I’m beyond this now. Nevertheless,
I’m glad that I watched it. Otherwise, how would I know?