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Jethro Tull

Live in Chicago, IL, November, 2005

Review by Greg Olma

I love concerts like this. More and More bands seem to be dispensing with the opening acts and doing two sets of their own. Jethro Tull has been doing that on and off for a few years now. Luckily, this show was an evening of "light" (acoustic set) and "dark" (electric set) of Tull music. Their music seemed at home in an intimate setting like the Civic Opera House. The venue is large enough to hold many Tull fans, yet is small enough to allow the subtlety and power of the music to shine through. Speaking of Tull fans, aside from the few children (obviously brought by their parents), most of the crowd consisted of hardcore devotees who know the Tull catalog like the back of their hand. I have been going to Jethro Tull concerts since 1985 but I felt like a newbie in this group.

The show started in a subtle yet dramatic fashion. One spotlight lit the stage as Ian Anderson strummed his way into "Life is a Long Song." As the song progressed, the rest of the members entered the stage, procession-like, creating a nice build up to the piece. "Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day" and "Jack-In-The-Green" followed. Before each song, Ian Anderson entertained us with his biting wit and sarcasm (all in good fun). These in between song "raps" are what make a Jethro Tull live experience so special. Going back even further, the band played something from This Was - "Beggar's Farm." Martin Barre really shined during this one.
The tour was somewhat in support of the Aqualung Live CD and I find it odd that they waited until the 5th song to finally play a track off of it. "Up To Me" was a welcome surprise in that I don't ever recall seeing them perform it live. "Weathercock" followed and again, it is a song that is not performed often.

For the next part of the "light" set, Ian Anderson introduced Lucia Micarelli on electric violin. To be brought up on stage in front of a Tull crowd is surely a daunting endeavor but Lucia won over the crowd in no time. While she did get to perform a few songs from her CD, she added a new element to the Tull songs. Her solo material tends to veer towards the classical style (it is violin of course), but live, she knows how to rock.
Ian and Lucia played a song from Ian's solo catalog - "Griminelli's Lament." Lucia was then given the stage to perform "Aurora," a piece from her solo CD, Music From a Farther Room. We got back to Tull music with "Wond'ring Aloud," "Cheap Day Return," and "Mother Goose." All 3 of these songs sounded especially full being performed by this 6 piece line-up. Again, we were treated to Lucia's solo effort by the name of "She is Like the Swallow." The studio version contains female vocals but tonight's performance was strictly instrumental. The first set ended with "Bourree." Although this is an Ian Anderson showpiece, Jonathan Noyce makes his presence felt with some superb bass playing.

After a 20-minute intermission, Lucia Micarelli, accompanied by Andrew Giddings, returned to the stage for "Nocturne/Bohemian Rhapsody." Judging by the huge roar of approval, you would have thought Brian May had just gotten on stage. It was clear that Ms Micarelli had not only won over the crowd but had also created a number of new fans. The big surprise of the evening was up next. Jethro Tull decided to tip their hat to their competitors back in the 70's, Led Zeppelin by playing "Kashmir." I'm not one for Zep covers (somehow they are never as good as the original) but this instrumental version was great. It was definitely a highlight of the show. The Aqualung album was given some more airing in "Cross-Eyed Mary" and "Hymn 43." After spending so many years being the "guitarist in Jethro Tull", Martin Barre has struck out on his own and put out a few CDs. He played "Morris Minus" this night and it was quite welcome in the set. It is a rockin' instrumental and I would recommend not missing this song from the set. Before playing the best song off of Crest of a Knave, "Budapest," Tull performed a passionate version of "My God." Lucia joined us again to add her part to "Budapest." The last song of the set was "Aqualung."
For the encore, Jethro Tull played "Wind-Up" and "Locomotive Breath," both from Aqualung. They may not have performed the whole album but this was pretty damn close. It is shows like these that remind me of why Tull has been successful all these years. They play with such passion and power that one cannot help but enjoy their live shows.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 4 at
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 4 at
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