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Jethro Tull

Live at Monteux 2003

Review by Gary Hill
There is Jethro Tull and there is Ian Anderson. Interestingly enough as the only founding member of the band to have remained with the group, the two have become rather synonymous over the years. In fact, there are those who believe that Anderson’s name is, in fact, Jethro Tull. Well, the truth of the matter is, Anderson is in many ways the heart of the band, but the rest of the group who have been around for the long haul have an equal importance. Sure, Anderson’s voice and flute (not to mention stage presence are unmistakable), but Jethro Tull is a band – and each member performs a function. All the parts must have been working perfectly on the day in 2003 when the group performed at the famous Montreux Jazz Festival (OK, so, Jethro Tull aren’t jazz – but neither are a lot of other groups that have played the festival – is it time to rename this thing or what?) because the show is purely magical. I’d have to say that every song is played with integrity and near perfection. It must have been a great thing to be in this audience. For those of us not lucky enough to be counted in that number, though – we have this CD release and the DVD counterpart to enjoy the experience.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You
For those who forget that Jethro Tull started out as a blues band, this little romp will serve as a lasting reminder. A standard 12 bar blues, this is a good track, if a bit of a jarring contrast to the bulk of Tull’s catalog.
Life Is A Long Song
With a sound that’s more associated with the band, Jethro Tull come in with this classic number. Combining folk music with progressive rock, this number has been a fixture of the group’s live show for a long time. They put in a great rendition here.
Bourée
This bouncy little baroque inspired piece is another that’s no stranger to anyone who’s seen Tull live. The version here is perhaps a bit more traditional in terms of the introductory segment. It’s hard to listen to this one without getting a smile on your face. It’s also hard to imagine a Tull show without this. They always turn it into a harder rocking jam later on in the process and that works quite well in this performance.
With You There To Help Me
Keyboards lead this one off, not quite as obvious a choice as some of the other material. The number has a sort of old worlde feel to it throughout much of its course. Anderson’s vocal performance is inspired and the whole piece works really well. The bursts of electrified guitar fury are very effective, too. So is the fast paced jam later that cements the number’s entry into the world of progressive rock.
Pavane
This instrumental is a gentle, yet inspiring one with loads of world music infused within its borders.
Empty Café
If the opening piece was blues, this one really does belong at a jazz festival, feeling like an excursion to some French Café – hmmm…can’t imagine where they got the title. Essentially a guitar solo this is some great jazz.
Hunting Girl
This pulls the show back into the progressive rock arena with a hard edged jam that’s quite solid. This is one of the tracks where Tull have actually leaned in the direction of heavy metal (I know they won the metal award the first year it was given out at the grammys® – don’t get me started!). They do pull it off into more traditionally prog oriented soundscapes from time to time during the number, but always return to the crunch.
Eurology
This one is gentle and bouncy, but no less progressive rock in nature. It’s a pretty instrumental that’s a nice inclusion in this live set. Eastern tones duel with other world motifs later in the composition.
Dot Com
A song from Anderson’s solo output, this one includes female vocals at points. It has a rolling, lilting approach on the introduction, but overall is a ballad-like track cut that fits well within the Tull format.
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Here we get Jethro Tull’s take on this Christmas classic. If I had one complaint about the set it would be this track. While it’s a great song – no complaints there, I really question the band’s habit of including it in their sets no matter the season. For my money in the middle of July you aren’t really in the mood to hear Christmas music. That said, the group create a stunning arrangement of this piece. Anderson’s flute works wonders on the melody line. They turn in some intriguing variants on the themes in this instrumental piece.
Fat Man
This classic has an inspired percussion track and is another that has held up very well to the test of time. It’s no stranger to the Tull live set or FM radio for that matter. They put in a great rendition here that’s even more percussion oriented than the studio rendition.  

Disc 2
Living in the Past
With an instrumental flourish leading things off, the bass quickly takes command. The group launch into the song proper in a hard rocking prog rock display. This might well be the most energized and powerful rendition of the track I’ve ever heard. They still manage to pull it back far enough to make the mellower motifs work equally well, though. This definitely gets an infusion of crunch here, though.
Nothing Is Easy
Yet another Tull classic (these guys have so many), this one is also delivered with a bit more edge than on the original version. They put in a great hard edged rendition that is one of the highlights of the set. It’s a great way to breath life into this one.
Beside Myself
Lest you think the rest of the set is going to be all hard edged material, they put this balladic progressive rock cut, one that flows quite nicely, into the mix. The later sections of the track still have a bit of crunch, but it’s definitely not overpowering in any way - well, until the seriously metallic latter half. Even this is tempered by some elegant keys after it ends. This is a pretty and quite accessible piece of music that works quite well in this performance.
My God
Perhaps Tull’s best known disc is Aqualung, and this is one of my favorites from that album. Based on a prog ballad approach (at least in the early phases), this is a great tune and comes across quite strong here. The message is one that should be taught in school. They turn it more hard edged later in a hard rocking jam that has some of that bluesy texture, but also a heavy dose of metal. They play this one pretty faithfully to the original here, although they extend a few of the sections. The section with keyboard produced vocals is great, too.
Budapest
A more modern Jethro Tull song comes next. Keyboards lead this off here and they launch into a killer version. I’ve always really enjoyed the dramatic and evocative ballad that makes up the main theme of this track. They extend it out with some killer progressive rock instrumental sections that really work well. The guitar at times feels as if it has a life of its own as performed here.
New Jig
Here we get a bouncy, Celtic inspired instrumental. This is good fun and a nice way to break things up. As always, Anderson’s flute is magical, but the whole group seems to be on fire here.
Aqualung
This hard rocker (also from Aqualung) is another of the band’s best known numbers. It works quite well here, played fairly true to the original. The guitar solo section here is particularly soaring in its delivery.
Locomotive Breath
They close the set with another song from the Aqualung disc. This time we get a track that starts a bit like something from Yes, but quickly turns into a definitive Tull rocker. Bluesy and yet not, this thing is another pure classic. They turn it a bit more bluesy on the intro in this performance. Other flourishes and embellishments about here as they turn what is already a great track into a pure firestorm of fury and power. It’s about the best possible way I could imagine for them to end the show.
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