- 24 Mar 11
Live @ The National Concert Hall
40 years since the release of their classic Aqualung album, Jethro Tull are still capable of “eyeing little girls with bad intent.” Bounding on to the strains of 'Living in the Past' Ian Anderson and co deliver a truly wondrous musical journey that is at turns other-worldly, impish, and mired in a uniquely English brand of eccentricity and pastoral cleaves.
Oh, but prog is such a dirty word. Wasn't punk supposed to kill off this sort of music? Yeah right. Never send a pocket-knife to a firefight. Derogatory as the 'p' word has become, Jethro Tull were always more than that and exhibited a self awareness, sense of humour and genre jumping mastery that vaulted the parapets of prog and ran mooning into the glades.
At its centre is the one-legged satyr, the flauting dervish, the lascivious smirker, Ian Anderson. Still possessed of his box of tics, foot flicks, beard strokes, bug eyed gurning and body jerks, tonight he looks like a pirate gypsy of mischievous intent.
And this intent is manifested in a performance replete with bewitching shafts of musical light spun from the magic lantern.
From the lilting, contemplative, happy-wistful ‘Life is a Long Song' to the surrealist (mis)adventures of 'Up to Me', sparks shoot in all directions, fires start and wood sprites dance to the hallucinatory refrains of the flute. The 12-bar blues of ‘Beggar’s Farm’, offers a hypnotic guitar riff as a perfect foil to the clock tick drum beat before Martin Barre lets rip on a muscular solo that leads straight to the jukebox at David Lynch's Black Lodge. The slow grind of 'A New Day Yesterday' further highlights Tull's blues roots as well as the essence of tonight's performance as sounds from the stage go forth, entwine, float and disperse before being drawn back in by the band and refashioned anew on the potter's wheel.
Crowd favourite 'Thick as a Brick' pokes fun at that bedrock of prog pomposity, the concept album, 'Bourée' is their cruise ship cocktail lounge jazz take on Bach, and 'Mother Goose' imparts visions of the oddities on display in public parks before, as Anderson informs the audience, “dog shit and paedophiles took over.”
The haunting discordance and ominous undertones of 'A Change of Horses' sees it shift from Old Testament intoning to the realm of space odyssey and rock opera, ‘Budapest’ gives Barrie a chance to dance around the fret board before ‘Aqualung’ is hauled out and Anderson lets loose his inner Kenny Everett. The shuffling madness of a curfew-breaking encore of 'Locomotive Breath' caps a perfect night.
This is a band comfortable in their skin, appreciative and proud of their back catalogue and after six decades in the music business still capable of taking the listener onto musical planes less travelled. Makes you glad to be thick as a brick. Sublime.