IT'S ALL GREEK TO ME - Jethro Tull 9/27/23

Reviewed by Claudio Vernight

Billed as celebrating their Seventh Decade, the 60's stalwarts, Jethro Tull, visited the Greek last night. If you came to hear their FM hits, "Aqualung" and "Locomotive Breath," you had to wait until the very end of the show, for that is all they indulged us. In keeping with the M.O. of progressive rock, they promoted their new LP, "Rök Flöte," a tribute to Norse gods and played completely unknown material to the audience. To be clear, the audience lapped it up.

            They did hit several other decades but for the most part, played as set that sounded very much like Jethro Tull but that's it. They did sound great. Frontman and dictator, Ian Anderson, performed on cue, his flute constantly fluttering, and he was always in motion. At 76, his core no longer allows for the "flamingo" stance he was famous for. You know, standing on one leg while the other is bent at the knee - all the time playing his flute.

            A standout was guitarist Jon Parrish-James playing his JP6 by John Petrucci. He came with all the raunch and plenty of bite, maybe a bit more than original Martin Barre had. His playing, while approaching shred was quite melodic and all his notes were played with strength while letting them ring. Intricate lines with the flute and bass are a trademark of Tull and Parrish-James didn't disappoint.

            On the other side of the stage was multi-keyboardist, John O'Hara, who traded lines with Parrish-James all night. His B3 was exceptional, pulling the right drawbars to create the perfect sound. With his full beard, I had to look twice to be sure it wasn't Garth Hudson. Drummer Scott Hammond set up his kit at the far right (stage left) to allow for full viewing fo the screen which was integral in their storytelling. Every song had a video in sync, almost like a pre-made music video. They spent an awful lot of time of them and they did help. I couldn't make out most of the lyrics and I doubt if I was alone in that so video accompaniment kept the evening interesting.

            Rounding out the ensemble was David Goodier who played a bass solo that will be remembered. Fingerpicking like a guitarist and chording like Django Reinhardt, he was the real deal.

            Now for the bad news. Ian Anderson can't sing. Oh, he sounds like the Jethro Tull of old, but he struggled all night to stay on key. What was unusual was the audience didn't care. It was painful at times, for a doo wop harmony singer like myself. I mean, you're charging up to $100 a ticket. Hit the damn notes, for crying out loud.

            That said, the progressive part of the Anderson was on full view with the new album, "Rök Flöte." (I finally figured out how to get an umlaut on my Mac.) He sings the story of Ragnarök, the Norse cleansing of the world through apocalypse. All their gods die, and the world first burns then drowns in the process.   Not exclusive to Norse religion but it does take advantage of the current sci-fi wave of fantasy worlds especially in the northern realms. Today's sci-fi is dominated by Norse mythology. Think Game of Thrones, Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series and all things Viking and Xena. It was a an easy play for the band and they are the perfect foil for such drama. Myself, I want more songs in the mix. You know, with verse and chorus, make that singable chorus. Instead, Jethro Tull's new LP ends up more of a mini opera where Anderson sings all the lines.

            I also would be remiss if I neglected their classical refrains, the "Bourée in E minor" by Bach and the "Pavanne in F# minor" by Gabriel Faure. It gave such a wonderful contrast to the power chords and drive of the rock as well as a great remembrance to the days of FM radio. You see, boys and girls, there was a time when DJs could play anything they wanted and popping in a little ditty by Bach was all the rage.

            Bottom line: The audience, a majority of senior citizens, came for a blast from their past. They got that especially when the band hit their two mega-hits, "Aqualung" and "Locomotive Breath." They left humming those hits and not worrying about Ian Anderson's tirade over cell phone cameras (he stopped the show twice to complain about it and to be fair, the audience for the most part obliged him.) Crotchedly old rockers are a tough bunch to deal with. Luckily all I can think about is "Sitting on a park bench, eyeing little girls with bad intent."

Posted By DH Magazine on September 28, 2023 04:17 pm | Permalink