Saturday, 7 April 2018

Jethro Tull

6th April 2018

Edinburgh Usher Hall

I briefly thought about making this entry the last to this blog.  Not because keeping it up to date is a bit of a chore (which it can be), but because Jethro Tull were the first band I saw in concert, some 41 years ago, and hence the first blog entry (see list in panel to the left).  I felt doing so would result in a neat, if slightly contrived, symmetry to the business.

But I shall probably just plod on regardless.

Having seen a flurry of Tull gigs around the end of the Millennium, I knew that Ian Anderson and his singing voice had parted company a good few decades ago.  So, as long as one knew and accepted this fact in advance, one should not be too disappointed, I reasoned.

But Anderson's voice was poor, much poorer than I remembered.  This evening it was almost painful to listen to (when one could hear it), it being a cross between a croak and a whisper.  That he has persevered with performing says something I suppose.  But is only really the quality of the songs allied to the talent and musicianship of the current band members (Anderson included) which carries the day.

I cannot imagine the fans of many other front men putting up with what passes for singing from their hero.  Daltrey, Plant and even Jagger had he put in such a performance would have been hounded off-stage.

Edinburgh Usher Hall.

Touted as a 50th Anniversary Tour, unlike The Stranglers whom I had seen a few days earlier who had at least acknowledged their post-heyday recordings, here Tull's post 1980 output was represented by just one song: Farm on the Freeway.

The opening half of the gig concentrated on the period 1968-71, with a pleasingly heavy nod in the direction of that blues based debut: This Was.  Not surprisingly, it was instrumentals Bourée and Dharma For One which shone brightest.  But I did like the With You There To Help Me/Witch's Promise medley.

The second opened with excerpts from Thick as a Brick and then A Passion Play, but they may as well have been instrumental as was well, such was the unobtrusiveness of the vocals.

Bass player David Goodier helped out with a few lines here and there with a couple of songs but, during Heavy Horses, I was taken aback when a lady (I later learned to be Unnur Birna Bassadóttir) on the backdrop screen began contributing to the vocals, before picking up a violin and sawing away impressively.  That was certainly one way to get around the problems of those pesky high notes in the chorus.  A similar trick was utilised during Aqualung where video footage of Ryan O'Donnell was used to help out with the vocals.

But the best approach was that taken with the encore Locomotive Breath, which really was to pare the singing back to a minimum, and to extend the tune into a rollicking train ride.

Ian Anderson - Edinburgh 2018

Jethro Tull - Edinburgh 2018

Jethro Tull - 2018 version (L-R)
John O'Hara, David Goodier, Ian Anderson, Florian Opahle, Scott Hammond.

In between the songs, a number of folks (some ex-band members, some not) popped up on the screen to offer their 50th Anniversary congratulations and to “request” a song.  It was good to see Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond, John Evans and Mick Abrahams up there.  And even Tony Iommi who had been in the band for a few weeks back in 1968.

Martin Barre, I did not expect to see on screen for obvious reasons,  but I found it odd there was no contribution from the likes of Barrie Barlow, Clive Bunker or Dave Pegg.  Ian cannot have fallen out with all these chaps as well, can he?

Three former Tullies are now no longer with us: Glenn Cornick, John Glascock and Mark Craney, these last two named having died tragically young.  Not to have mentioned any of these individuals did seem another crass act by Mr A.

Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond.

Mick Abrahams

Set list

My Sunday Feeling
Love Story
A Song For Jeffrey
Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You
Dharma For One
Living in the Past
A New Day Yesterday
With You There To Help Me / Witch's Promise
My God
Cross-Eyed Mary
Thick as a Brick (excerpt)
A Passion Play (excerpt)
Too Old To Rock 'n' Roll, Too Young To Die
Songs From The Wood
Ring Out, Solstice Bells
Heavy Horses
Farm on the Freeway

Locomotive Breath

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