On June 11, the Greek Theatre was full of middle-aged rock fans, anxiously awaiting the chance to hear Jethro Tull perform their entire Aqualung album live as part of their 40th Anniversary Tour. Believe me, none of them were disappointed.
The night, sponsored by one of the giants of rock radio, KLOS 95.5, was everything it was hyped up to be – lots of great music, excited fans and the occasional smell of herb wafting in the breeze.
Before I go any further, I must thank Vanessa Kromer and Annisha Hinkle for the outstanding assistance. It is an honor to be allowed to cover concerts at the Greek, which has always been one of my favorite venues. Thanks again for the opportunity.
For those who don’t know, Jethro Tull is a British band that was formed in 1968, and still performs with three of its original members – Ian Anderson (flute, vocals, acoustic guitar), Martin Barre (guitars) and Doane Perry (drums). Bassist David Goodier and pianist John O’Hara joined the band in 2006 to complete the current line-up.
Aqualung was released in 1971 as what some critics have hailed as a “concept album.” The album reflected Ian’s critical and skeptical views of organized religion, mostly on the B side (“My God” and “Hymn 43,” in particular). Anderson has long disputed that assessment, resulting in the release of their true concept album, Thick as a Brick, in 1972.
Anderson saw Aqualung as an album exploring the struggles of the less fortunate in society (“Aqualung,” “Cross-Eyed Mary” and “Up to Me), teenage angst (“Wind Up”) and parental themes (“Cheap Day Return”). In addition, it touched on some modern day themes, like globalization, population expansion and runaway economics (“Locomotive Breath”).
Although the show started 15 minutes late, the crowd exploded into cheering as the band took the stage. Anderson’s voice has remained unchanged over the years, and he showed no signs of slowing down. The audience merrily sang along as the band played two sets and an encore (more than 90 minutes of music).
What struck me most was that, despite the fact that the material was 40 years old, Anderson sang and the band played with the fervor of musicians showing off brand-new music. In addition, the Greek’s video technicians were amazing, adding to the experience with their creative editing skills (incredible fade-outs and bleed-throughs, as well as psychedelic colors and patterns).
Seemlessly flowing from one song to the next, Anderson took the audience on a journey through the music, stopping along the way to tell background studies and insert material from some of the band’s 30+ albums. Among my favorite songs were “Cheap Day Return,” “Mother Goose” and a song that Anderson “snatched” from Bach and redid Tull style.
Watching Anderson on stage is a thing of beauty. Anderson has great stage presence, expressive eyes, and impeccable musical abilities. The nearly sold-out Greek Theatre patrons truly got their money’s worth.
If you have the opportunity to catch this tour, I highly recommend you go. It was one of the best concert experiences of my life. Can’t wait to see them again.