Friday, 2 December 2011

Jethro Tull Edinburgh 1978

Jethro Tull Edinburgh 1978
1st May 1978

Edinburgh Usher Hall

This Was (ha ha) Jethro Tull’s opening date on the tour to promote the Heavy Horses album – the second of the band’s “Folkie-Phase”. 

The release on the face of it contained potentially twee little songs about dogs and cats and mice and moths and horses, but there was a subtle dark undercurrent to both the music and the lyrics; something lacking on its predecessor.  And tucked away in a corner (if a disc, vinyl or otherwise can be said to possess corners), could be found an oft ignored gem: Journeyman.  Propelled along by John Glascock’s relentless double tracked bass-lines, and punctuated by some sharply angular Barre guitar, this tale relating the loneliness of the long distance commuter boasts a delightfully evocative lyric:

Sliding through Victorian tunnels
where green moss oozes from the pores.
Dull echoes from the wet embankments
Battlefield allotments. Fresh open sores.

I just love it.

The band, regretfully, didn’t play Journeyman this particular evening, and there is some doubt (in my mind at least), what in fact they did play.  A couple of web-sites state the band (without Anderson) opened with Quartet, but my recollection is a heavier, bouncier tune: Quatrain to be precise.  Anderson when he did arrive on stage commented that as they started the last tour with a quiet song (Wond’ring Aloud), they decided on a louder one this time around.  That Quartet is a baroque-ish piece which, back in 1978 lay buried in the discarded War Child vaults, and would do so for a further 15 years sort of enhances my impression I am correct.

On the live Bursting Out album, recorded on European leg of this tour, No Lullaby is chopped halfway through to make way for Love Story.  I am sure as I can be, although I acknowledge I was unfamiliar with Love Story at this point, that the whole of No Lullaby was played.  Also, I am positive Acres Wild from the new album was given an airing early in the evening. 

Sets do tend to change nightly early on in most tours until things settle down, so I think it not impossible the above instances occurred as the band honed their performances and set running order.  But given I can barely remember what I had for breakfast these days, I am happy to be corrected on all these issues.

After these opening tunes, the band settled down to a slightly predictable run through of songs which had appeared on the last tour: cut down versions of Too Old to Rock and Roll, Minstrel in the Gallery, Songs from the Wood

and Thick as a Brick, plus the flute stuff tagged onto the end of A New Day Yesterday.  Two other new songs were aired:  One Brown Mouse and Heavy Horses.  The encores were the predictable selection from the Aqualung album interspersed with The Dambusters’ March, played whilst Anderson tossed two large white balloons into the audience.

I had attended the concert with two former class-mates from school – a He and a She.  I later pondered whether I was there as a chaperone or if I had been playing unwitting gooseberry, as they swiftly jettisoned me afterwards to disappear off for a drink together.

I think I was perhaps a bit Tulled out by the end of 1978, what with the Madison Square Gardens concert on TV and the aforementioned Bursting Out album, so I gave the next studio outing Stormwatch a miss.  The following album, simply entitled  A was a bitter disappointment, and the band were promptly placed onto my musical back-burner for the next 15 or so years.

Set List (I am going from my memory here, until someone convinces me otherwise, plus the order is all shot to hell)

No Lullaby
Skating Away
Jack-in-the Green
One Brown Mouse
Thick as a Brick
Acres Wild
Heavy Horses
A New Day Yesterday/Flute Improvisations
Hunting Girl
Too Old Too Rock and Roll
Minstrel in the Gallery

Cross Eyed Mary
Locomotive Breath
Dambusters’ March

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