By Dan Williams
Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson closed out MusikFest, and That Mag was there.
2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the band Jethro Tull. Anderson’s Tull are originators of Progressive Rock (Prog Rock), along with bands like King Crimson, Yes, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Rush and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Most began around 1968 as an offshoot of what is now called Classic Rock with lavish orchestrations oftentimes adopting a Medieval / Canterbury sound with early instruments.
Jethro Tull was one of the most successful with now standard anthems such as “Aqualung” and “Locomotive Breath” and Anderson’s trademark flute always at the fore.
As soon as the band took their places, they launched into 1972’s iconic title tune from the Living in the Past album and Anderson moved swiftly to stage left with his wireless flute. The audience cheered loudly as they recognized the first lines. Next came 1970’s bluesy “Nothing is Easy” followed by “Heavy Horses” and a stellar version of legendary “Thick as a Brick.” Every song was accompanied by a huge backdrop screen with accompanying video. Some graphics were modern and colorful like lyric videos while others were vintage videos showing a young Anderson at the time of the song’s release. It was fascinating to see vintage Anderson in full bushy hair and beard mouthing the words the 70-year-old Anderson was singing live.
And in most every case, his singing was perfect. There was one song where something appeared off. The last tune leading into intermission was 1977’s “Songs From The Wood” with its tight harmonies. Anderson’s vocals were off. It could have been a monitor problem or a sound board mix issue where his vocals stood out from the other voices, but something was amiss. That was the only miscue for the entire set.
As much of an instrument are Anderson’s trademark stage movements. Yes, he played on one leg several times throughout the evening. Other times, he displayed a dancer’s grace, toe kicks or he pranced from left to right stage, hunched over like the Pied Piper. All very classic.
The rest of the show was a wonderful blend of Jethro Tull standards, deep cuts and tunes from Anderson’s prolific post-Tull career. Each came with a verbal intro and most with a story.
Anderson’s demeanor was friendly and witty with a very polished and comfortable voice. The set finished with the aforementioned crowd pleasers “Aqualung” and “Locomotive Breath” with its hard charging take no prisoners assault.
He no longer has the wild hair, but his voice, both his singing voice and his flute voice are in high form. Anderson’s show was everything his younger and more contemporary fans could hope for. This show was his opener for his four-month US and European tour. He sounded in mid-tour form last night.