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Jethro Tull

Live in Waukegan, IL, October 2007

Review by Greg Olma

The great thing about seeing Jethro Tull live is that each time they come to town, they will fill the evening with crowd favorites but they include just as many surprises. Even the crowd favorites are often reworked to give them a new life and keep the players excited about performing them. This is definitely not a band that you can say “I saw them last tour so I know what they are all about.” They are not touring on any specific release even though they have just put out The Best Of Acoustic Jethro Tull and Live at Montreux 2003 (on DVD and CD). Whether there is new product out or not, it’s always great to catch Jethro Tull in concert.

The show opened with “Someday The Sun Won’t Shine For You” with only Ian Anderson and Martin Barre on stage. I have never seen this one played live (at least to the best of my fading memory) so it was quite a treat to get something “new” in the set. It seemed so appropriate for them to start the show right where they started their career with This Was. Title track “Living In The Past” was next which had the rest of the band joining Anderson and Barre. Even though I have seen this one live many times, the band gave such a spirited performance on that old chestnut that it didn’t feel like they were doing one of their “greatest hits.” After a couple of older tunes, Anderson introduced the next song as something that will be on the new Jethro Tull album. “The Donkey And The Drum” is a welcome addition to the Tull catalogue and like the rest of the crowd; I can’t wait for its release.

There is always one definitive moment that I can point to as the reason I still love going to concerts. For this show, it was when the band played “Velvet Green” off of Songs From The Wood. I loved that record and it seems to be really overlooked when set lists are chosen so when they played it, I was in shock and aw at the same time. It was definitely a golden concert moment for me. Before going into the next song, Anderson gave us a little lesson in political correctness. His between song banter is such an integral part of the show that I don’t think we would be happy if they just played music. The song of course was “Fat Man.” “King Henry’s Madrigal” and “The Water Carrier” were given some stage time before new (and unreleased) tune “Birnam Wood To Dunsinane” was played. If memory serves me correctly, it was an instrumental. To finish off the first set, they played a couple off of Stand Up in the form of “Bouree” and “Nothing Is Easy.”

After a short intermission, Anderson came back on stage to start of “Thick As A Brick.” I’m glad that in recent years, the band has been playing a larger portion of this album length tune. In the early 90’s we would only get a snippet just to wet out appetites and then it was gone. That is not the case anymore and they played a healthy portion making sure that we got a feel for more than just the opening of the album. “Sweet Dream” was up next but before we knew it, Martin Barre was playing “Misere” from his solo record The Meeting. I was glad that he got a solo spot because we always think of Ian Anderson “as” Jethro Tull that we sometimes forget that Barre is just as much a part of Tull as Anderson. Now, every Tull fan, myself included, has seen them play “Aqualung” at pretty much every show since its release. Anderson must know that he can’t drop it from the set list because it is a crowd favorite but he must be sick of playing it live. Well, to satisfy both the crowd and his musical sanity, they reworked the song in more of an “orchestral” version which didn’t take away any of it’s “metallic” power but did add new parts that were both familiar and different. Before going into another Aqualung track “My God,” they played a song that Anderson said was something he saw ELP play. The song is “America” and it definitely had that pomp feel that ELP are famous for. Before leaving the stage, the band played “Budapest” which is quite honestly one of the best tunes in their whole catalogue.

Of course, they had to come out for an encore. The sell out crowd demanded it and Jethro Tull was more than happy to oblige. John O’Hara (replacing Andrew Giddings for the tour) started off “Locomotive Breath.” The rest of the band soon joined in, including the other new face David Goodier (bass). Even though every Tull show ends with this song, it is still a highlight and I recommend that no one leave before the house lights come on.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 6 at
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