Gerard Oldfield the Man in the Rain at Horse Guards Parade, Part 1

Friday night in Whitehall. An assemblage of tourists outside Buckingham Palace peek through the railings in the rain. Walking along the Mall crowds of people with rain sodden tshirts bearing the face of a man who has been described as a music legend, Mike Oldfield. ‘Bloody mayhem round here today.

You can hear it in Leicester Square’, says the cab driver. Horse Guards Parade, home to the Queen’s annual Trooping of the Colour is tonight hosting its first ever commercial concert. The sound check is underway, the music filtering through the tree lined streets, the backdrop for some of the most prestigious and architecturally magnificant buildings in London. Drenched foreign tourists stand bewildered at the spectacle they least expected to encounter in this part of London. The venue for this concert was almost as big an attraction as the music, the world wide launch of Oldfields new album Tubular Bells III.

Mike Oldfield, the man, may shy from the public eye but Mike Oldfield, the best selling musician has ways to attract global attention through his stage shows down to a fine art. The first Tubular Bells was premiered at Queen Elizabeth Hall twenty five years ago, the sequel Tubular Bells II infiltrated the grounds of Edinburgh Castle. The white buildings of Horse Guards encased the stage and tiered seating but did little to shelter the 7000 strong audience from the pelting rain. As the support act Martyn Joseph took to the stage it seemed half the audience were queueing for plastic hooded bags, the rest huddled in their seats under a sea of umbrellas.

Television viewers catching a glimpse of the concert broadcast live in Spain would be forgiven for thinking this was Wimbledon. Martyn Joseph strummed through a set of laid back accoustic numbers with soft vocals and strong undelying messages.

However much you expect from Oldfields stage you cannot fail to be impressed by the array of instruments. Tubular Bells has always been a product of experimentation with a diverse mix of instruments and equipment and his stage show magnifies this. Clearly Oldfield is a musician with a talented band of players devoted to playing their instruments brilliantly and leaving out any dramatic physical stage moves. The music and lights provide the drama for them. The audience was predominantly fortysomethings perhaps looking to relive the excitement and memories evoked by the first Tubular Bells. Their hunger was satisfied when Oldfield opened with the original Tubular Bells and led into ‘Source of Secrets’, a more uptempo version from the new album with sythesised beat.