Ian Anderson & Jethro Tull – Rose Music Center, Huber Heights, OH 9/5/18
Ahh, everyone seems to be celebrating anniversaries as of late. Yet, most bands are using them simply as a not-so-obvious excuse to sell more tickets. Meanwhile, Ian Anderson’s Jethro Tull is utilizing their 50th anniversary to actually celebrate their band’s rich legacy. During this tour, the band is digging deep into their catalog to pull out some lesser-known material, accompanied by a treasure trove of audio/visuals, both past and present.
Ian Anderson and company hit the stage at just past 7pm and treated the sold-out crowd to two sets which grabbed tracks from every corner of his band’s long history. The show opened with Tull’s debut single, the rather cheerful “My Sunday Feeling,” with Anderson prancing around in his typical white shirt and black vest. Some of these songs, like “Some Day the Sun Won’t Shine,” featured Anderson on harmonica and date back to when Tull was strictly a blues band.
While fans of Anderson’s concerts have come to expect a multi-media experience, this audience was treated to something different – video testimonials from a wide range of musicians, all saluting the band on their 50th birthday. Some were original Tull members, like bassist Jeffrey Hammond, who introduced the appropriate “Song For Jeffrey,” and Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, who was in the band just long enough to be featured in the legendary Rolling Stones Rock n’ Roll Circus movie, before smartly rejoining Sabbath.
Others were just performers proclaiming their adoration for the band, such as Joe Bonamassa, who introduced “A New Day Yesterday,” a song he covered on his debut album, or Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, who requested the odd “Ring Out, Solstice Bells.”
Anderson quipped “we don’t do drum solos in 2018,” before allowing his current drummer, Scott Hammond, a chance to stretch out on the instrumental “Dharma For One.” Then, he donned a small, acoustic guitar for “My God,” admitting that it caused “quite a stir in the Bible Belt because they didn’t read the words.” Set one closed with a rather truncated rendering of the opening part of “Thick as a Brick.”
Set two began with surprising accolades from Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris, which preceded an excerpt from “A Passion Play,” before giving way to the all-too prophetic “Too Old to Rock n’ Roll, Too Young to Die,” which featured lots of footage from the band’s 1970’s heyday. The multi-media took on a larger role, with Anderson singing with a girl on video in parts of “Heavy Horses,” which went through several tempo changes. “Farm on the Freeway” was another highlight, where the band really seemed to come together and rock, while the video screens depicted farm equipment in various settings.
The final song of set two was the ubiquitous “Aqualung.” Just getting to see one of the greatest classic rock songs of all-time in concert is a treat unto itself. Recent Anderson recruit Florian Opahle proved that he was worthy of filling the shoes of guitarists that came before, peeling off solos that were blistering at times, and delicate, as needed.
The band returned for the churning “Locomotive Breath” as their encore and the capacity crowd roared in approval.
While a few might quibble that there weren’t enough hits in the set, the truth is, Anderson put together songs that represented his band’s long history. So many band’s end up playing the same show over and over, tour after tour. Ian Anderson made sure that he gave his fans something different. —Tony Peters