The Live at Montreux concert DVD series continues with a vintage Mike Oldfield performance at the famed festival in 1981. This is quite a stripped down affair compared to the relatively extravagant Incantations tour: there are no choirs, no orchestras and no lighting effects. But the nature of Oldfield's lush layered music requires flexibility, if not virtuosity, and the sextet frequently trade musical instruments to adhere to the symphonic qualities of the compositions. In other words, it sounds big despite the lack of bells and whistles.
As this particular concert coincided with the release of the QE2 album, it's no surprise that that album is well represented here, as is Platinum from 1979. The music on those albums is still identifiably "Oldfieldian", but they also show a composer who is starting to access shorter tracks and more compact melodies. However, the Live at Montreux set mainly focuses on the longer cuts and not only do we get the then recent material, but a nice chunk of the classic Ommadawn and, of course, most of Tubular Bells as well.
For anyone accustomed to recent concert film production, this DVD may come as a bit of a shock: there are no fast edits or quick cuts between performers. The stage shots are almost exclusively close-ups of faces and musical instruments, so forget about those crane shots that whisk you from the back of the auditorium to the front of the stage. The only drawback in that regard is that the Mike Oldfield band isn't the most exciting band to watch for an hour and forty-five minutes. Each member approaches his instrument in a scholarly fashion and there isn't a whole lot of movement on stage. Vocalist Maggie Reilly occasionally steps up to the microphone to deliver wordless vocals, drummers Mike Frye and Morris Pert enthusiastically bash out all manner of percussion while Mike Oldfield sweats profusely over his guitar: that is the image I'm left with after watching the Live in Montreux DVD.
Any nitpicking about staid performers won't be a problem for Oldfield fans, as it's enough that this DVD has been made available. The video quality is good while the sound is outstanding. There are no extra features to speak of, save for the chapter menus and the audio selections of PCM stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS. I recommend Live in Montreux without reservation to Mike Oldfield enthusiasts.
- QE2 Medley: Taurus 1/Sheba/Mirage
- Platinum Parts 1-4
- Tubular Bells Part 2
- Medley: Conflict/Ommadawn
- Tubular Bells Part 1