Updated: Nov 7
The only remaining original member of Jethro Tull is Ian Anderson, lead singer and flautist. Jethro Tull was formed in Bedfordshire, England, about 50 miles north of London, in 1967. Andersons' 2023 incarnation of Tull consisted of, bassist David Goodier, keys John O'Hara, drummer Scott Hammond, and guitarist Joe Parrish-James.
They began the evening with an announcement from Ian Anderson over the PA system, asking the audience to not take photos until the final song of the night, (Locomotive Breath). And I was not surprised, as for the previous Tull shows I've attended I was not allowed to bring my gear and shoot, as they typically don't allow photography at their shows. At precisely ten minutes past eight the show began. They had one 15 minute break after one hour and finished the gig at ten o'clock. 45 minutes into the first set I finally recognized a song, with Andersons' rendition of a tune originally written by J.S. Bach. Anderson introduced each and every song with his own form of delightful charm. I'm not sure why it seems like artists these days that have been around for a half century+ refuse to do the hits that made them popular. It seems to be happening a lot in my own experience. Recently, with Graham Parker and then Neil Young. I am unsure why other than it is simply their choice. And I understand it's their own artistic freedom to play whatever they want. But on the other hand, not to give the people what many of them want, which is mostly the hits we all grew up with, is unclear to me. As far as the show itself, my main issue was with the setlist, (only playing two or three hits) including Aqualung, and Locomotive Breathe. However, as many of you may already know, I'm all about the drums. I feel very passionate about what role they play in a band. They are the back bone of the music. Without a good strong drummer, I feel the music simply falls apart. And in my opinion this performance was an epic example of this. Scott Hammond, the drummer seemed to hit a little harder when they got to the last song, Locomotive Breath, but for the most part, I felt the drummer was too light handed. We were sitting ten rows away from the side where the drums were placed on the stage. I was distracted by the drummer not seemingly wanting to HIT the drums, but it sounded as if he was just 'touching' them. I felt that the ''soft touch on the kit' threw off the music for me.
Hammond, Tulls' drummer, has played with members of rock bands such as Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) and Joe Elliot (Def Leppard). So surely he could've hit harder. I prefer hard hitting drummers like Moonie, Bonham, Grohl, Peart, Cameron, Hawkins etc. As my opinion is just that-only MY opinion. As you will see below, Marks' opinion was that the drummer was "relaxed and tasty". So the following is what a few other people had to say about this Tull show... Mark McGee: "A top-notch performance! The last JT show I saw before this, was in 1985 on the ‘Under Wraps’ tour at the San Francisco Civic auditorium! This year the band was flawlessly, tight and the drummers relaxed feel and tasty approach added a nice smooth edge to their performance. The visuals were in sync with the band to perfection! Ian Anderson, a true, maestro and visionary! Personally though I really missed original guitarist Martin Barre on guitar." Eva Starkey: "There were a couple highlights and nice to see he can still play the flute when he wants to, but he seemed to have to pace himself, loved the Bach and Aqualung, but overall a very uneven show, what happened to his voice? I totally agree about the set list, and sorry to say no one was there to hear his new stuff, just glad he touched on Aqualung, we all needed that." Michael Peltz: “As an age old fan, I was grateful to have made it to my first Jethro Tull concert after all these years, but I had hoped they’d play more hits. That said, this performance was a great reminder of Tull’s unique and extraordinary brand of high energy, progressive rock." Marci Howard: "You'll never find a better flautist, however, it's time for a new vocalist, in my opinion."
Kathy Benstock: "I thought the show was great! The video backdrop was extremely powerful especially directly involving the homelessness situation/devastating living environment. Also the sense of out of control rushing down the tracks, no end in sight. My highlight was to see your smiling face!"
So there you have it. Five Tull fans, five opinions of this show. As you will notice in the videos below, Anderson had a noticeable shortness of breath in his vocals. As he is 76 years old I give that a total pass. If they replaced his vocals with someone else, I think that it would not sound like Jethro Tull and may lose the iconic sound they've created for many decades.
As I did not professionally shoot this show. The photos below were shot with my iPhone.
Video credit: Eva Starkey
Video credit: Cheryl Alterman