Friday, 14 October 2011

Jethro Tull Glasgow 1977

Jethro Tull Glasgow 1977

2nd February 1977

Glasgow Apollo

This was the first concert I ever attended!

Hmmm….well perhaps that is not strictly true, as I can distinctly remember being taken to see Rolf Harris one summer hols with parents and, on another occasion Harry Secombe (featuring special guest Lena Zaveroni).  So, to be more accurate, this was the first Rock ‘n’ Roll concert I attended.

I had become vaguely aware of the presence of Jethro Tull amongst prog rock’s aristocracy, once I graduated from singles to albums in the early 1970s.  In pics they looked incredibly hairy, equally ugly and not a little bit intimidating; and I had assumed their work must be extremely inaccessible, as it never seemed to be played on Radio 1.  That they had earlier enjoyed a clutch of hit singles had somehow crept under the radar of this young then T.Rex obsessed boy.

It was in fact, on Radio Luxembourg around 1975 I first heard the band – a surprisingly jaunty little ditty called Bungle in the Jungle.  I thus decided to give the band a go, and purchased the associated album War Child, during one of my infrequent record buying trips to Edinburgh.  Nowhere in Bathgate really did albums.

Once I got the thing home, I recall being bitterly disappointed by the lack of squealing guitar solos, or meandering synthesisers  – witty lyrics and snappy melodies not being quite what floated my musical boat back in those ELP loving days – and I swiftly swopped the album on (for Procol Harum’s Grand Hotel, if memory serves).

A year or so later found the Aqualung album doing the rounds at school – with the more immature of us (me included) finding some vacuous titillation from the fact here was a mainstream rock album mentioning snot and panties.  The title track impressed me enough to give the band another go, and I shelled out for their Best of collection “M.U.”, which was soon followed by, what I have to say is still my favourite album by the band Minstrel in the Gallery. 

Late 1976, and a UK tour was announced – and there was enough of us from school interested to warrant organising a coach, and I am guessing around 20-30 of us made the trip, although for reasons I cannot quite remember we ended up in two groups: one lot with decent seats in the stalls, and the rest of us (me included) up in the back row of the second balcony.  And if you had ever watched a concert from the very rear of the Glasgow Apollo you will know how remote the stage was.  The one consolation was we were able to stand to get a slightly better view, there being no-one behind us.

The support for the concert was advertised as Leo Kottke, a young American 12-string guitarist of some renown but, and I am prepared to be corrected here, I think someone else stood in for him at short notice, for whatever reasons.

The Tull concert began with Ian wandering (?aloud) onto the stage in a red waistcoat and bowler hat, playing solo a short acoustic number (I later discovered to be Wond'ring Aloud), before introducing the rest of the band and going into Skating Away, one of the few songs I had enjoyed from that War Child album.  A selection of four songs from the new album Songs from the Wood was aired (including the fiendishly complex sounding Velvet Green), alongside a clutch of older songs, very few of which, I have to say, were familiar to me.    

Thick as a Brick was one I sort of knew, although only by the gentle, almost pastoral opening few minutes, as it appeared on the MU album.  That it swiftly morphed into something radically heavier was quite a pleasantly disorientating experience.

I cannot really recall where the main set ended – I think it was probably at Minstrel in the Gallery, with the obligatory glut of tunes from the Aqualung as encores.  Ian finished the show with a brief throwaway “Don’t catch cold!” tagged on to the closing line of Back Door Angels.  The lights went down, and the band was gone.  And I felt a bit cheated – rock concerts were supposed to end with a bang, were they not?  I had not yet realised Jethro Tull was no ordinary band, and that the conventional rules of rock ‘n’ roll did not quite apply to them.  I soon would though.


Wondr'ing Aloud
Skating Away
Thick As A Brick
Songs From The Wood
To Cry You A Song/Instrumental
A New Day Yesterday (incl. Bourée, Living In The Past)
Velvet Green
Hunting Girl
Too Old To Rock'N'Roll
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony/Minstrel In The Gallery
Guitar Solo
Wind-Up (inc. Back Door Angels)/Land of Hope & Glory
Locomotive Breath
Back Door Angels (reprise)

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