1993 - 1994

1993 - 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR 1 March Carnegie Hall, New York, has a standing ovation. 22 Munich, 23 Stuttgart, 25 Hamburg, 26 Dortmund, 28 Kassel, 29 Brussels (Belgium), 31 Paris. April 1 The Hague (Netherlands), 2 Frankfurt, 3 Zurich 5th-8th Royal Albert Hall Supported by Loreena McKennitt a harpist, September 15 Spain: Barcelona, 17 Madrid, 18 Oviedo, 19 Vigo, 21 Malaga [David Porter has Cadiz], 22 Cascais (Portugal), 23 Oporto (Portugal) 24 Burgos, 25 Bilbao October 8 Los Angeles [John Anson Theatre]. A date for 14 September at Toulouse was cancelled. The Spanish venues were mostly bull rings or open air venues. The set followed the earlier tour apart from an extra encore of Taurus III. The Los Angeles audience of 1300 was moved from the Greek Theatre and he performed with the 35 member UCLA choir and orchestra. The Cranberries supported for one night at the Royal Albert Hall. Mike once said he remembered seeing Billy Holiday sing at Carnegie Hall, and the venue may have stayed in his mind. The set included Tubular Bells 2, an Original Tubular Bells section, Orabidoo, the Bell reprise, and Sailors Hornpipe. There were some changes to these gigs. Mike wanted to play at the Hollywood Bowl, thus leaving an ambition to fulfil. He's also talked about playing at Red Square - the idea of "premieres" was obviously appealing to him. Mike broke a nail in Paris and had a plastic nail, fitted to replace it. That is the first time he had had to do this.

1994 SONGS OF DISTANT EARTH

There were rumours of a one-off gig in Europe but no tour was confirmed. There were some reports of a few concerts in 1995 with a one-off in June or July in the UK of SoDE - as late as March 1995. But it was always unlikely that there would be a tour with an album of this sort. It was played live in 99 of course - but in December 94 Mike told Spanish radio station Cadena 100 FM that, "This music is different. Its not like musicians standing up and playing, its designed in a very special way with computers and a lot of technology.

If I was to play it live I may as well have me and a computer. There's a lot of guitar playing but there's not a band performing its just not that kind of music. If I was to do a live show it would be much more visual, it would have videos and it would be more an event that a concert.

"I could maybe even not be there in person, I could be in another country. It would be interesting if say at a live concert one of the musicians was in America another was in Australia and I was there on stage and you have live photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope. It would be different from musicians performing it would be more an interactive multi-media event. That's something I would consider." What this reflects is the desire to be challenged by the science and art of live recordings so that he is creatively engaged with more than the reproduction of the music, and to produce a more genuine live experience. It also reflects his interest in the emerging technology of sound and performance art. Just as Mike is fascinated with the process for recording sounds so he is becoming interested in the methodology of playing live.

In June 1995 - during an Interview with Gareth Randall for Dark Star, Mike continued on this new favourite theme. "One of the problems with touring is that you need so many people! I mean, I could just have a backing track and a couple of musicians, but that would be kind of cheating. I must say that I got a bit bored doing tours. The Edinburgh concert was fantastic, and the first few after that were great, but doing the same thing night after night lost the element of unpredictability that I want to bring in. But we'll certainly play some old stuff, including songs, on the next tour - whenever that might be."

"This virtual reality project you'd be able to take on the road and I've been thinking about all kinds of ideas for allowing the audience to participate. Imagine if we hired the Roundhouse and every tenth seat had a box with two buttons and there were 3,000 people, so there'd be 300 boxes. The audience would control the picture, there'd be a musical backing track which would provide the skeleton of the music and the musicians would have to follow what the audience decided. I find that kind of thing really exciting!"

©Mark Slattery