2nd April 2007
This isn't the first time I've seen Jethro Tull in a venue that is also putting on Jethro the Cornish comic around the same time.
How many, I wonder, get confused and book for the wrong date. Do people ever shout for Aqualung and Locomotive Breath at his shows?
The Tull set started with Ian Anderson and Martin Barre playing a stripped back version of Some Day the Sun Wont Shine For You, originally released on the first Tull album This Was way back in 1968. An intimate start that featured some great harmonica playing from Anderson.
The full 'Acoustic Tull' band including David Goodier on bass, James Duncan on drums and persussion and John O'Hara on keyboards and accordion then came on stage for a mellow version of Living in the Past.
Touring alongside the release of a new Best of Acoustic Jethro Tull album and with over 20 albums how do they choose the set list? Somehow they manage to cover everything - brand new tracks, solo segments and of course old Tull favorites like Thick as a Brick, Bouree and Fat Man.
The overall sound was similar to their A Little Light Music album, the main difference being Martin Barre on acoustic guitar and occasional bouzouki, which toned down all the arrangements. This in turn gave space for the intricacies of the tracks to be heard more clearly.
|Anna Phoebe |
O'Hara on a grand piano that became an organ that became a harpsichord provided some beautiful subtle touches throughout the concert.
Anderson's showmanship is part of what makes a Tull concert and it seems this has rubbed off on guest violinist Anna Phoebe who joined the band for most of the songs as well as playing a couple of tracks from her solo album.
Adding an intriguingly Eastern influence to some of the music her outstanding violin playing was an inspired compliment to Anderson's flute.
It also gave them scope to play obscure tracks from the Tull archives like King Henry's Madrigal and an extended version of The Nice's America with ‘call and response’ flute and violin in the middle.
Dun Ringill, one of the acoustic tracks to be found scattered throughout Tull’s albums and Jack in the Green worked very well as did solo album track The Water Carrier. Not entirely unexpected bearing in mind the band have worked with Anderson on solo tours too.
There was some incredible jazzy guitar playing from Martin Barre called Empty Café that brought the Tull stalwart to centre stage for once as the front man stood in the wings watching.
It’s no surprise to find Ian Anderson's voice struggling to reach the high notes after so many years on the road and the band only occasionally seemed like they were straining at the leash wanting to turn it up, like at the end of Beside Myself which mutated in and out of Rocks on the Road.
Derby got the one legged flute playing, the grimacing Anderson choking spoken words through his flute, the outstanding musicianship, a rearranged Aqualung at the end and even a full on electric guitar version of Locomotive Breath as an encore – it could have been 'Tull by numbers' but was far from it.