Only one thing to review here and it might take a few of you by surprise. Many of you are undoubtedly aware of my support for Jethro Tull who are still my favourite band after all these years.
Imagine my surprise recently then to hear that Tull front man, Ian Anderson had completed work on a follow up to the legendary 1972 album; Thick As A Brick? I do admit I had reservations about this but put those aside on finding out that Ian was bringing the new stage show to Liverpool. So what follows are my thoughts on an evening spent in the company of Ian Anderson, Gerald Bostock and co.
Taking my seat on the front row of the superb Philharmonic Hall for this show I was still uncertain as to what to expect but as soon as a troupe of brown clad “roadies” appeared on stage I was almost transported back forty years to the same sight gag that had been used on the original Brick tour. Of course, several of these gentlemen turned out to be members of the band and as soon as the house lights dimmed and Ian emerged in front of me with his acoustic guitar and … “will you not mind if I sit this one out…” well, the wait was worth it! Ian’s voice might not be all that it once was and so tonight he was aided and abetted by Ryan O’Donnell who took on several of the sections where Ian was busy fluting or guitaring. This was a new look band too, gone were all the familiar faces although both John O’Hara (Keyboards) and David Goodier (Bass) and Florian Opahle (Guitars) have appeared in Tull shows over the last few years. New boy Scott Hammond (no relation to the legendary Jeffrey I presume?) was a revelation on the drums, his performance really was top notch here.
Accompanied by the usual mix of amusing visual effects and sight gags, this was a feast for the ears as well as the eyes and the first part of the show went in the blink of an eye and after an interval of about twenty minutes the band were back for Thick As A Brick 2 or Whatever Happened To Gerald Bostock? Well, my doubts about the new project were soon blown away as Ian and the band led us through the musical life story of, “what -ifs, Maybes and Might-have -beens” that are life’s ups and downs. As you might expect from someone as lyrically observant as Ian Anderson, there are wry swipes at fat cat bankers (Banker Bets, Banker Wins), Public School abuse (Swing It Far) and the hypocrisy of modern day religion always a familiar theme in Anderson’s work (Give Till It Hurts). All in all a glorious romp of an imagined life and yet one which I am sure has its familiar elements for all of us. What-ifs, Maybes, Might-have-beens indeed. One thing that is for sure and certain, Ian Anderson and his new band of minstrels have still got the magic and this was a truly unforgettable performance.