TUBULAR BRASS – CONCERT
Saturday 17 November 2016 – St. George’s Hall – Bristol
Tubular Brass, featuring a plethora of finest brass players form around the UK, has been brought together by acclaimed composer, conductor and arranger, Sandy Smith, to perform a fresh brass band score of Mike Oldfield’s pioneering sonic masterpiece. Recorded originally in 1973 as the debut album of the then 19-year-old Mike Oldfield, it is difficult to imagine anyone would have thought that Tubular Bells would go on to achieve cult status, selling upwards of 15 million copies worldwide.
In his introduction to the concert, Sandy Smith explained that, due to the extremes of volume and range involved in replicating the electronic sounds, this particular band featured two soprano cornets, as well as additional electro effects and vocals from experimental electronic artist, composer and arranger, Hannah Peel.
The first-half of the concert showcased the remarkable talents of Hannah, who gave only the second performance of her brass and electro-collaboration entitled Mary Casio. Using the brass as a celestial voice for the synthesisers the combination of crazy electro riffs and pulsating bass line, with soaring vocals from Hannah, made for an incredible sound. Enhanced by super individual playing – notably by Alex Kenyon on flugelhorn – this part of the concert deservedly received a standing ovation, with audience members remarking “bit bonkers, but amazing” and “wow! How exciting!”
The second-half Tubular Bells performance pushed brass playing to the limit. With considerable demands placed upon each player, it certainly captured the essence of the original, with immense contributions from the soprano cornet section of Martin Britt and Mark Harrison. At times, the very loud dynamic and repetitive rhythms became a bit relentless and there was the odd scrappy moment, but these aspects did not detract from a truly epic performance. This was definitely not your traditional brass band repertoire, but an interesting and very well-produced concept.
Saving the best for last, the standout moment for many of the audience was the spine-tingling encore and tribute to David Bowie’s Life on Mars, featuring Hannah Peel as a stunning vocal soloist.
Sandy revealed that there will be a Tubular Brass CD released soon, the details of which will be posted on a Facebook dedicated page to this project.
Credit James Case – Brass Band World