Colston Hall, Bristol
I have to say that I hesitated before posting this review, due to the fact that a large grey leg belonging to an elephant is planted right in front of me, and it’s a little hard to see past it.
Temporarily setting aside my pachydermally imposed visual limitations, let me tell you more about how the evening unfolded, and first of all let me assure you that I had a great time.
Aware of the fact that there are quite a few late period Tull albums that I’ve never even heard of, let alone heard, I was prepared to endure considerable periods of auditory bewilderment during this concert. I am after all of the generation raised on a Witch’s Promise by a Teacher. As a youngster, I lost interest in keeping up with things during the interminable ‘Passion Play’, only to reacquaint myself with the canon round about the much later arrival of ‘Heavy Horses’. Since then I have cherry picked a few more albums to plug gaps.
But I needn’t have worried. This is very much a 50th anniversary celebration of Jethro Tull’s Greatest Hits, aimed squarely at the greying types who liked ‘This Was’ and then chuckled with glee at the folding gimmick sleeve of ‘Stand Up’ the first time it appeared. Those who know the lyrics to almost every song on ‘Aqualung’, and who have a warm familiarity with the sneering vocal intonations therein.
In the first half, for example, we got ‘Song For Jeffery’, ‘Bouree’, ‘Living In The Past’, ‘New Day Yesterday’, ‘Dharma For One’, ‘Witch’s Promise’, ‘Living In The Past’ and ‘Cross Eyed Mary’. After the break we heard, amongst others, the title tracks from ‘Passion Play’, ‘Thick As A Brick’, ‘Too Old For Rock ‘n’ Roll…’ and ‘Heavy Horses’, along with ‘My God’, ‘Aqualung’ and, for the encore finale, ‘Locomotive Breath’.
So for a grumpy old agricultural type like me, this was nostalgic Tull Heaven.
We had filmed interludes introducing each song that featured Tony Iommi, Joe Elliott, Mr. Hammond-Hammond, John Evan, Slash (!) and more, and there were filmic contributions to the songs from a variety of folk, whose names escape me (perhaps a better informed obsessive Tuller might fill in for me here, or perhaps someone who has forked out a fiver for the rather spiffo programme, which I forgot to acquire as I left).
That elephant in the room, standing right in front of me? Ian’s voice, or the lack of it with sufficient power and clarity to make the lyrics – one of his strong points for me – even vaguely discernible. Which is odd, given his fulsome speaking voice, his evident continuing monopedal athleticism, and his flautic skills which continue to be better than ever. His singing voice is now, officially, not up to the task. There, I said it. The show itself effectively acknowledges this, with David Goodier singing in a lot of places, and vocal contributions via the video screen occurring on many songs (‘Aqualung’ and ‘Heavy Horses’ in particular being brilliantly enhanced this way).
But, ultimately, it didn’t really matter, especially given the nature of the celebratory show we were given. Most everyone in the room knew every word anyway, and the band got a thoroughly deserved rousing – sold out – reception.
Go see ’em, they give it some stick, and it might be your last chance!
What would you expect? Craft ale convention, with wives having drawn the Designated Driver ticket for the evening.
It made me think..
There are no other bands like this lot, and it’s unlikely there ever will be again.