Tubular Bells gets 50th anniversary UK tour with Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and... Brian Blessed

23 March 2022, 10:29 | Updated: 23 March 2022, 17:44

By Mayer Nissim

Tubular Bells! With The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra! AND Brian Blessed!!!

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Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells was a slow starter, taking a couple of months to climb into the UK albums charts after it was first released in May 1973.

It gathered pace over the years, and the first-ever Virgin Records album has now sold over 2.7 million copies in the UK and 15 million worldwide.

It's spawned a number of sequel albums and spinoffs, and for its 50th anniversary it will be celebrated with three very special live shows in Nottingham, London and Birmingham.

It is being presented live by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra with band and singers from the London Contemporary Voices Choir and Ells Shaw, arranged and conducted by Simon Dobson.

Brian Blessed will be the compere for the shows, and will also perform the parts of the Master of Ceremonies and The Caveman.

Tubular Bells - Celebrating 50 Years
Tubular Bells - Celebrating 50 Years. Picture: Kennedy Street & IBB Media

"I must say it is a great honour to be part of such an iconic work of art," said Blessed.

"I first became aware of the legendary album in 1973 when I was appearing in I Claudius as Emperor Augustus Caesar for the BBC TV.

He added: "I must confess I was mesmerised at the time by Mike Oldfield's creation.

"I am thrilled to bits to be given the opportunity to work with Simon and the orchestra to bring this wonderful music to life."

Brian Blessed in fine voice
Brian Blessed in fine voice. Picture: Alamy

Simon Dobson added: "The show will be a glorious technicolour tribute to Tubular Bells, one of the most iconic and seminal albums of all time.

We aim to build on the legacy of this incredible music and bring a modern reworking to life with huge musical forces, projection mapping and special guests."

Producer Martin Gernon said: "Tubular Bells is one of the most iconic pieces of 20th century British Music.

"To celebrate the 50th anniversary of its launch with this spectacular new show and new recording with the Royal Philharmonic and some of the best session musicians in the UK, is an absolute privilege and honour, but also a huge responsibility.

"The audience will experience not only incredible music, but accompanying visuals and lighting that will create a feast for the senses."

The album will be played fully live, and the concert will also feature 'Ommadawn Part 1' and 'Hergest Ridge Part 1'.

Tickets go on sale this Friday, March 25. The full tour dates are as follows:

  • October 31 – Royal Concert Hall Nottingham
  • November 1 – Royal Albert Hall, London
  • November 3 – Birmingham Symphony Hall

A companion album will be released later this year.

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