Mike Oldfield

Tubular Bells II & III Live

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Details At A Glance

Category Music Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1999 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time
121:14 minutes
(not 125 minutes as stated on packaging) 
Other Extras Menu Audio
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,3,4,5,6 Director Mike Newman (II)
Hamish Hamilton (III)

Warner Vision Australia
Starring Mike Oldfield
and band
Case Super Jewel Case
RRP $39.95 Music Mike Oldfield

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s) 
English (Linear PCM 48/16 2.0, 1536 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    For those amongst you who are not familiar with Mike Oldfield, he conceived an album way back in the seventies on which he played all the instruments. Said album was rejected by just about every major record company that you can think of, until finally a gentleman by the name of Richard Branson decided to take a punt on it for his new record company, Virgin Records. Catalogue number V2001, the album turned out to be one of the most phenomenally successful albums of all time, and launched the Virgin empire, making Mr Branson a phenomenally wealthy gentleman in the process; the album remains a good seller even today. That album was of course Tubular Bells. Since then Mike Oldfield has produced many great albums but never quite managed to throw the impression that he only ever did the one album. He conceived Tubular Bells II and Tubular Bells III as intrinsically independent albums but developed from themes made famous in the original album.

    This DVD brings together the premiere live performances made of Tubular Bells II, in Edinburgh in 1992, and Tubular Bells III, in London in 1998.

Transfer Quality


    Whilst familiar with a few music VHS tapes of the past, this is a relatively new genre for me on DVD, and to some extent I was not expecting an awful lot from it. Those old VHS tapes gave the impression of being taped on a twenty year old Super 8 mm movie camera by someone sitting in the fifth row of the concert. My how times have changed! After only a few minutes of Tubular Bells II, I was simply amazed by how good this was.

    Both concerts are presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

    Whilst it is important to note that there are two distinctly different transfers on offer here, made six years apart, the overall impression is of very sharp transfers, very clear with pretty good definition and shadow detail. There did not appear to be any problems at all with low level noise. Having said that, the transfer for Tubular Bells II is somewhat better than that for Tubular Bells III - but that is comparing superb with very good.

    It is the colours however that show up the differences between the two concerts. Tubular Bells II is a very vibrant transfer with gloriously rich tones that frankly many a feature film would die for. Whilst there are lots of blue and red used in the stage lighting, at no time did oversaturation or bleeding of colours seem to be a problem. Conversely, Tubular Bells III is a much more muted colourscape: no flashy, vibrant colours here and the tones are much more washed out in appearance. However, this is also a reflection of the stage lighting, which seemed to be much more muted with very little in the way of reds and with plenty of lighter hued blues. In many ways, the style of transfers actually suits the style of music from the two concerts - Tubular Bells II is much more lively, vibrant music, whereas Tubular Bells III is much more introspective. Both concerts are very consistent in the rendering of the colours.

    There did not appear to be any MPEG artefacts in the transfer, and film-to-video artefacts consisted of some very minor aliasing especially in Tubular Bells II. The aliasing was not especially bothersome and did not detract from the enjoyment at all. Both transfers were remarkably free from film artefacts, the only two items of note being a black vertical line at around 16:32 and a white mark at around 46:43 of Tubular Bells II. Hardly noteworthy enough to disturb the enjoyment and both were only confirmed by scanning back to the points to make sure that I had actually seen what I thought I had seen.

    This is a dual sided disc, with the Tubular Bells II concert on side A and the Tubular Bells III concert on side B. The changeover point is after 64:38 on side A, but you should note that unless you push the stop button, the DVD will just replay again on either side. Technically some may consider this a flipper but since if you do nothing, the disc will just replay ad infinitum (and there is good reason to let it do so!), and since they are two integrally separate concerts, I do not think it fair to call it a flipper.


    The quality of the video transfer is almost matched by the quality of the audio transfer - the first time that I have listened to rock music in Dolby Digital 5.1.

    There are two audio tracks on the DVD, a Dolby Digital 5.1 track and a Linear PCM 48/16 track, the latter very similar to the sound you would expect on a compact disc. I listened to both soundtracks for both concerts - a great way to spend an afternoon!

    The music and vocals came up very well in both soundtracks, despite the differences in the styles of the soundtracks.

    Audio sync did not appear to be a problem with either soundtrack.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack made a quite effective use of the front surround channels, but little use seemed to be made of the rear channels, not even for audience noise. The front surround channels are quite effectively balanced and separated. The bass channel however gets a really good workout here, that really does drive the music along very well. If you like to turn your music up loud with bass to spare, then this will be right up your alley - although your neighbours may not be so pleased!

    The Linear PCM soundtrack is very much like the sound off the compact disc. Whilst there is no separate bass channel, the higher decibel level of this soundtrack still conveys the music well.


    A pity that the opportunity was not taken to do something here, and this is the only real complaint I have about the DVD package.


    A relatively plain menu style, but with audio enhancement.


    This is the disappointment - it just lists personnel for both concerts. This cries out for a little background information on Mike Oldfield, and indeed the concerts themselves, as nowhere does it say exactly when they were recorded! I understand that Warner Vision Australia is hoping to switch to local replication of discs next year (this is an import from Germany): I hope they also take the opportunity to improve the booklet at that time, as it would really round out a great audio and visual experience.

R4 vs R1

    As far as I can determine from resources I have checked out, this has not yet been released in Region 1.


    As far as I am concerned, two great concerts, well filmed and placed on a damn good DVD that I heartily recommend to anyone with even a passing interest in the music of Mike Oldfield. An observation: to get the two albums on compact disc costs $62, the DVD costs $39.95. I have not checked out the exact contents of the compact discs as compared to the DVD, but makes you think about buying the compact discs?

    A very good, almost superb video transfer.

    A very good audio transfer.

    Just no real extras to speak of.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
30th October 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL