After the repeated success of Tubular Bells II and the Edinburgh Castle premier in the autumn of 1992, it was decided to take the concert out onto the road on a European Tour. This time, with a smaller cast than used in Edinburgh, Mike's first gig played to a packed Carnegie Hall in New York on the 1st March. After this single US date, the tour rolled into Europe with several dates from the 22nd March in Germany to single dates in Belgium, France and Austria. The finale was four successive nights at the prestigious London Royal Albert Hall in April. Despite a smaller group of musicians aiding Mike, the London concerts proved a huge success, even allowing Mike more scope to elaborate on the guitar breaks and a breathtaking encore, nicknamed "Orgasmidoo" by the fans.
Mike in all his regal splendour, during the European leg of his Tubular Bells II Tour. Thomas Rosenthal
To coincide with the first UK concert date, a third single from Tubular Bells II was released. Titled The Bell, the 7" (YZ737) and the cassette single (YZ737C) contained an excellent reworking of The Bell, with Vivian Stanshall making a most welcome return as the MC, and a single Sentinel Trance restructure. There were also to be a staggered two CD release. The first (YZ737CD) contained both the above plus another two almost unrecognisable Sentinel restructures that vainly attempted to cross over into the popular UK dance scene. The UK release also included three unique Tubular Bell logo photocards which were not available anywhere else in the world. The second CD (YZ737CDX), attractively packaged in a foil CD sleeve, was released 7 days later and contained 5 different versions of the title track including Management Works stable-mate Billy Connolly as MC. This version, as with the first, was only available to fans in the UK. Unfortunately, due to lack of radio airplay, and despite having an excellent promo video, this track failed to make the Top 30 UK singles chart.
On the re-release front, Voiceprint Records re-launched in March, two David Bedford LP's on CD. Nurses Song with Elephants (VP116CD) originally dated from 1972 whilst the second The Song of the White Horse / Star Clusters, Nebulae and Places in Devon (VP110CD) hadbeen originally released on Oldfield Music back in 1983. The excellent Bedford / Oldfield collaboration back-catalogue has taken far too long to appear on CD, so it is pleasing to note there are plans at Virgin to release several more CD re-issues including Stars End and Instructions for Angels. Whilst on the subject of re-releases it has also been good to see Virgin release two 20th anniversary retrospective sets towards the end of the year. The first, a single CD titled Elements (VT18) contained much of his more well known material. The second was a lavish 4 CD set with an 60 page booklet all included in a superb presentation box. The only disappointing feature was the lack of rarer material with only the Vivaldi Concerto in C not having been heard before. To coincide with these releases, a video, also titled Elements, contained a small selection of the visual history as well as an exclusive interview slotted between each clip.
After 20 years of mainly solo success, it is fitting that there is still a place within the UK music scene for this highly underrated but hugely popular musician. Always a true ambassador of his special brand of music and with his huge success throughout Europe, there have been few musicians to push back the boundaries of music and succeed in the way Mike has done. At the tender age of 40 we can still look forward to another 30 years of music pioneering up to and beyond the limit set by others. I am just grateful to have been able to enjoy all that he has done thus far and I, along with legions of fans worldwide wait with baited breath and high expectation for all that is still to come...