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19 February 1977


Jethro Tull

It's strange, but up until Sunday night at the Hammersmith Odeon, Jethro Tull had been an anonymous quantity in my musical catalogue.

I might have bought the odd single but apart from that, their progress has gone over my ears, so to speak. Like, say, the Moody Blues, Tull seem to have gotten into their own personal niche and their performance, music and audiences remain insular to the rest of the music world. They move at their pace ignoring progress and an immense army of fans follow.

There's something of an intimate atmosphere at Tull's shows, it's like everyone's come down to see an old friend. I felt left out. Being unfamiliar with most of the material, it was difficult to appreciate what was going on, whether it was a good or bad version of 'Too Old To Rock And Roll, To Young To Die'.

The only thing I know was I was impressed and want to hear more. These guys ain't as boring as most journalists think. Ian Anderson is a sparkling showman and the band are a remarkable collection of musicians. Their sound is more distinct than formularised, you can only describe their music as being Tull, it goes under many guises. Many traditional styles are twisted, transmogrified to accommodate new weird time changes. They have the rare ability of transforming a melodic song into a complex almost barbarian workout and then back to melody again.

While Anderson adopts the pose of a drunken poacher from another era, the band, under the guise of equally insane eccentrics, bounce about the stage as if they were cheering a toast at some 17th century debauched blowout. And there's no way one can get bored, with Anderson's crazy mannerisms. Those taut features going into a proverbial carnival of grimaces, his eyeballs protrude as if they're trying to escape from their sockets while his limber torso dances about the stage as if possessed by the spirit of the bass pedal.

The whole band approach their duties with maximum confidence, sometimes a bit too slick. The tightness of the material doesn't allow for any adventurous blowing and Anderson's onstage persona seems larger than life at times in the intimate jam-packed confines of the Odeon.

But they do have an endearing quality which makes them one of the few mega star quantities that hold any genuine communication with audiences.

Turkeys they are not!



Thanks to Mike Wain for this article.