1975 - 1978

1975 31 April Queen Elizabeth Hall Star's End and Rime of the Ancient Mariner 1977 25 January Royal Albert Hall, David Bedford's The Odyssey 1978 Sunday 25 June Whalers Celebration Day - Friends of the Earth - did this happen?? Date? London Jubilee Gardens, South Bank 1-5 "Save the World" concert. [Soon after Exegesis.]

During these few years you were more likely to catch a live dodo in concert than a live Oldfield. In interview Mike told Mick Brown for January 31 1976 Sounds that he disliked live performances because, "when you're performing you have to be aware of other people more - whether you've got the right atmosphere, whether anybody's getting bored. You have to worry about psychology …" He added that "there is no benefit from live performances. Logistics are difficult. They don't enhance the music. I couldn't do it as well on stage as I can in the studio. I could probably sell a few more records, but that's not important. I'm not happy on stage anyway; I'm happier in the studio where I can perfect things." Apparently after Boxed Mike returned to the speculation that his work might sustain live performances if he could work with sound engineers. The 1979 tour certainly saw him try to realise this view.

Mike guitared for Bedford's two performances and naturally became the most interesting aspect of them to the press. Vangelis and Mike Ratledge also played on The Odyssey.

Other players included Pete Lemer (who later toured with Mike) and Dave Stewart, as well as the Queen's College Girls Choir who toured with him in 1979. Two of the choristers were Emma Freud and Kate Colleran (Lee Remick's daughter). The Times said, "Oldfield's bit is an extremely awkward passage even on the record, and though he played it accurately it sounded jerky and hesitant. It certainly wasn't designed to show off his talent." During his second "far more interesting" solo, Mike "had a surreptitious fag, holding it behind his back - until he realised that about a thousand people were sitting above the back of the stage." It is interesting to note that Bedford wrote a sea shanty for the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Mike was apparently very taken with it, and it might not be a co-incidence therefore that a shanty is one part of the Millennium Bell.

In Jubilee Gardens Oldfield also guitared with David Bedford & the Queens College Choir on a selection of Bedford's music. It was Mike's first public performance for 18 months. Around 1978-79 Mike joined in on two occasions down at Phil Beer's local pub ("after a few beers" according to Beer). This seems to replicate his occasional forays into Penrhos Court when a degree of anonymity or dissociation from the music makes it much easier for him to perform. Perhaps it takes away the element of responsibility of being composer and so for making it work - his whole reputation is not on the line. Jubilee Gardens later surfaced as a possible location for his millennium concert. These associations may be tenuous and co-incidental or they may indicate that Mike has a good memory!

©Mark Slattery