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1 April 1972
Royal Albert Hall
It's nearly time for Jethro Tull's set on a dimly-lit stage on Tuesday, and there are these five roadies all dressed in neat white Bogart macs and tartan caps, doing the last-minute adjustments. Or could it be Jethro Tull? Confusion builds as similarly hairy individuals in identical garb slowly filter out from the various stage entrances until there are a round dozen on stage.
The situation is resolved at length when seven of them fade back into the wings and the genuine Jethros hang their uniforms on a hat stand and launch straight into 'Thick As A Brick'. Jethro Tull really don't miss a trick — even such mundanities as their arrival on stage are handled with style, imagination and wit.
They kept up the standard right through almost two hours of non-stop music interrupted only by some brief interludes of some Pythonesque Tull humour. While 'Thick As A Brick' (their newest album) is slightly disappointing on record, it comes alive in the extended stage version, aided by Ian Anderson's masterly use of the stage and lightning switches from comedy to drama and back.
Despite personnel changes over the years, Jethro Tull has always played superbly as a unit. But as usual, it was Anderson who stole the show musically as well as visually. His flute pumps along fiercely like none in pop did before him and his two solos during the new work were excellent: the first hovered and fluttered round the Albert Hall like a giant bird, the second was perfectly punctuated train rhythm.
For good measure, the new theme was followed by 'A New Day Yesterday', an early Tull classic, and most of 'Aqualung'. The latter particularly shows that if Anderson had not decided to lead a rock band, he could have made it as a solo acoustic singer-songwriter.
Tull's absence from this country has prevented the group from attaining quite the reputation it deserves. Hopefully, their current month-long tour will change that. Obviously, the group still enjoys playing here, and Anderson admitted, "This is the only country where we'd dare to try something new." They get my vote for Best Concert of '72 so far, by a short head from Randy Newman.