1999 - Then and Now

1999 - "THEN AND NOW TOUR" June 18 Hungary: Budapest, 19 Austria: Vienna, 20, Germany: Hannau, 22 Boblingen, 23 Berlin, 24 Dresden, 25 Hamburg, 26 Rostock, 27 Bielefeld, 28 Bonn, 29 The Netherlands: Rotterdam July 1 Spain: San Sebastian, 2 Valencia, 3 Murcia, 4 Ubeda, 6 Barcelona, 7 Palma de Mallorca, 8 Madrid, 9 Salamanca, 10 Santander, 12 Paris (Grand Rex), 13 London Wembley Arena, 14 Birmingham NEC, 15 Dublin (The Point), 17 Italy Udine Castle, 19 Germany: Singen, 20 Furth, 21 Munich, 22 Switzerland - Zurich, 23 Germany Leipzig, 24 Czech Republic Prague, 25 Poland Katowice, 27 Sweden Stockholm, 29 Denmark (Langelands Festival), 31 Spain La Coruna Festival.

Musicians: Adrian Thomas (Keyboards) Pepsi Damacque (vocals) Claire Nicholson (keyboards and guitars) Carrie Melbourne (bass) Fergus Garrand (drums and percussion). [some of Mike's kids played the TBs]

Set: Material from: In the Beginning, Supernova, Crystal Clear, Shadow on the Wall, Ommadawn P1, Embers, Summit day, Muse, Cochise, Source of Secrets, Watchful Eye, Jewel in the Crown, Outcast, Serpent Dream, Inner Child, Secrets, Far Above the Clouds, Moonlight Shadow, Family Man

This was managed by Maggie Mouzakitis, standing on its head Mike's earlier theory that managers are not necessary. 17,500 turned up in Budapest (the concert maybe reflecting his desire to tour the Eastern Block) For 1-10 July his support were Luar Na Lubre. 12-15 was Mark Nevin. The Madrid concert was broadcast on Cadena 100 the Spanish radio station. Many of the Spanish venues were Bull Rings. Nearly 90,000 people came to the La Coruna festival on the beach. He topped a bill on which the Corrs also played, showing how star billing can invert itself in different countries.

During an interview with Dark Star's Chris Dewey Mike said: "I suppose when you're playing live you've gone through so much rehearsal that you get bored just playing the simple part, you know when you've got a whole live band its always difficult to stop everybody playing all of the time and I've got to get used to that. In TBIII the live performance there are long sections where I don't play anything, and it's a great temptation just to play along and play things that aren't necessary, and it's the same for all the musicians, although it's a lot better now we've started to write it down and people play from the part and we just say if its not written, don't play it, whereas when I used to work with rock musicians they'd be banging away the whole bloody time, you know, couldn't shut them up." This harks back to his Whole World days or perhaps some of the 1980s tours when he played with more rock-orientated musicians.

After the San Sebastian concert Mike told RTE Guide (Dublin) that it was his best ever gig. "They went absolutely f*****g bananas. It was unbelievable. I don't think I've ever experienced anything like it before. They just wouldn't let me offstage."

In another technology-based innovation, Mike's tour diary was published on the internet via Dark Star.

31 DECEMBER1999 - MILLENNIUM BELL: SIEGESSAULE SQUARE, BERLIN.

Set: Tubular Bells Part 1 (10 min), Portsmouth (modernised version), Moonlight Shadow (Miriam Stockley), The Source Of Secrets, Shadow On The Wall, Sunlight Shining Through Cloud, The Doge's Palace, Mastermind, Broad Sunlit Uplands, Liberation, Amber Light, The Millennium Bell, Berlin 2000.

A concert originally thought to be staged in Jubilee Gardens on the banks of the Thames in the UK but did not happen, nor by Brandenburg Gate or Table Mountain in South Africa. Mike told a German TV programme: "I was looking for a place to play in a big city like Cape Town, Oakland New Zealand, London. And now Berlin is the perfect location for me." The venue reflects his desire to play large one-off occasions in open air venues.

In answer to Martin Glatz' Dark Star interview on 28 June that year Oldfield had said:

"We'll have a fifty piece string orchestra, a couple of woodwind, an opera singer, two child sopranos, a rapper, a fifty piece choir, and we're going to make a documentary film to go along with the whole thing. We'll tour it. We would go in much the same way as Jean Michel Jarre does his things." The details were similar, still spectacular, but not quite the same as he envisaged at that time. The very impressive concert and light show are available on video.

Text © Mark Slattery
Photos © Thomas Rosenthal