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25 August 1973


Shock move by Tull after Passion Play gets flayed

Jethro Tull, high in the world's charts with A Passion Play, amazed the music world this week by announcing their retirement because of "the abuse heaped upon the show by the critics."

This extraordinary decision comes after severely critical reviews of both the Passion Play album and the band's concert appearances. But Tull are believed to be the first major band to take such criticism to heart.

In a brief statement this week, the band announced an "indefinite retirement" from concerts. All engagements after their forthcoming American tour have been cancelled — the tour ends on September 29.

Commented Tull's manager Terry Ellis:

"The abuse heaped upon the show by the critics has been bitterly disappointing to the group and, as illogical as it may be to identify the opinions of the reviewers with those of the public, it has become increasingly difficult for the group to go on stage without worrying whether the audience are enjoying what they are playing."

This stunning statement presumably means Jethro Tull, one of the world's top five live attractions, are retiring because of adverse press criticism, regardless of the packed concert halls for the band on both sides of the Atlantic.

Tull's last British appearance was at London's Wembley Pool in June when an 8,000-strong audience heard the first live performance of A Passion Play.

MM's Chris Welch reported:

"Not once during the evening did the music catch me in the pit of the stomach or cause hair to rise on the neck. Perhaps I was seeing Tull too soon after witnessing the glories of the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

"The lyrics or story of Passion Play did not communicate one whit. At the end of the evening I had absolutely no idea what it was about."

Welch's opinion was shared by most British and American critics and, so MM believes, by some members of the band. But Welch also observed:

"It must be positively stated that the concert was a success as far as the vast majority of the audience were concerned. Long and loud were the cheers."

Tull can be assured of a similar reaction for their American tour where Passion Play recently topped one of the album charts.

Ellis also stated:

"The group have been working continuously for nearly six years during which time their total recreation from concerts has not been more than one month."

The band's four New York concerts next month, at the Nassau Coliseum and Madison Square Gardens — with a total capacity of 70,000 — have already sold out.

Tull's next project will be a film musical, written by Ian Anderson



Thanks to Mike Wain for this article.