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Progressive Rock Concert Reviews

Jethro Tull

Live In Highland Park, IL, June 2010

Review by Greg Olma

 I had not been to a Jethro Tull concert in a couple of years so I figured it was time that I make the effort to see on of my favorite bands.  It was also the first time in a while that I had seen them with an opening act.  I knew the set would be shorter but regardless of show length, Jethro Tull is always entertaining.

The started the show as they have done many times with “Nothing Is Easy” from 1969’s Stand Up album.  It is a great opening track and even though I have seen them perform it a bunch of times, it never gets old or tired.  Going back a little further, they played “Beggar’s Farm.”  I think it is great that Ian Anderson and company still manage to play something from their first record This Was.  Moving forward (ever so slightly), they played a truncated 9 minute version of “Thick As A Brick.”  I have not seen them perform this long of a version in quite a while so it was great that they gave this one a longer airing.  I guess they decided that was it for newer material (sarcasm intended) and they went back to the Stand Up album and played “A New Day Yesterday”.  At this point in the show, all of the material was at least 38 years old but age did not matter because the band played each song as if it was new.  They never looked as though they were “phoning it in.”

Even though it is a fairly new song for Jethro Tull, “Pastime With Good Company (King Henry’s Madrigal)” was the oldest song of the set.  It has become a favorite lately probably to give Anderson a chance to rest his pipes.  Before going into a pair of completely new tracks, the band played “Songs From The Wood” and “Bouree.” Although “Bouree” is always in the set, I was happy to see them bring back the title cut of Songs From The Wood because I feel it is an often overlooked album.

“Hare In The Wine Cup” was preceded by a story about how the song got its title.  As always, Anderson was in fine form displaying his wicked sense of humor.  He also introduced “A Change Of Horses” as a song that Ravi Shankar’s daughter helped write.  Even though no one played sitar, I could see how that instrument would have benefitted the song.  Both new tunes fit nicely along side the older Tull classics.  Next up, the band played a great tune that I haven’t heard live in a long time “Farm On The Freeway.” They have been playing “Budapest” off of Crest Of A Knave for quite a number of years so it was nice that they decided to change things up and play something different.  Martin Barre played a short, rocking instrumental before the band closed the show with a three-fer from Aqualung.  They started with “My God” and then played the title track to finish off the set.  Of course Jethro Tull was not going to leave before playing one more for this packed house (actually it was outdoors but there was not an empty spot on the lawn to be had).  They played the customary “Locomotive Breath” (with balloons) before they finally left the stage.

Even though I have seen Jethro Tull more times than I can count, each time reinforces my understanding of what a great band they really are.  While many songs may be the same, they always throw in an odd track that the old die-hards love.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of younger people in the crowd.  It proved to me that Jethro Tull has something to offer old and new fans alike.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
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