Jethro Tull (August 2003)

Date of Performance: August 12, 2003
Venue: Tanglewood, Lenox, MA, US

An Evening With Jethro Tull & The Boston Symphony Orchestra

Jethro TullI was feeling loads of anticipation for the upcoming Jethro Tull show knowing that they would be playing with a full orchestra at Tanglewood. The venue is nestled in the mountains of the Berkshires, which happens to be 15 minutes away from my place of employment. What a treat, no 2 to 3 hour drive and getting back home at 3AM, what a nice change. The concert ended at 10:10PM and I was home by 10:50PM. That was sweet.

While I was standing in line waiting for my bottle of water before the show, I was chatting with several people. One gent told me he heard an interview with Ian Anderson that day on the radio. Ian said this would be the first time the band would perform with an orchestra in the United States. My first thought was ?I wonder if they will be taping it. I guess I will find out soon enough.

My seats were located in an area they call "The Shed." It holds 5,000 people and directly behind it is a large lawn area, which was full as well on this night. Thanks to Anne Leighton, one of the best PR people there is, the seats were excellent, dead center around 10 to 15 rows back from the stage.

The rain has been coming down in buckets the entire month here and there seemed no end in sight, except last night, the rain held off for the entire concert so the people on the lawn could enjoy the show without putting on their rain gear or opening their umbrellas.

I saw JT play in 2001 so I thought I knew what to expect even if it was with an orchestra. I was in for many surprises. They started the show off without the orchestra backing them then they eventually walked on to the stage with Ian introducing them as a bunch of fiddlers he met in a bar in Boston. Mr. Anderson is not only a great flutist; he knows how to get a few laughs from the crowd. Although his voice is one of the most recognizable and unique in music, he continues to lose command of it in a live setting. The passing of time has not been kind to Ian?s voice. The orchestra and band made it that much harder for him to project his voice and at times drowned him out.

Before they started into a crowd-pleasing adaptation of "Thick As A Brick," he mentioned that it would not be easy to play the song and commented "They will (the orchestra) probably play it perfectly and we will fuck it up," the audience roared with delight. Their prog-rock meets classic rendezvous was superb. The crowd was then treated to three tunes from the forthcoming Jethro Tull Christmas Album and a song from Ian's new solo album Rupi's Dance titled "Eurology," one of my favorite tracks. I was however disappointed that they did not play any selections from Martin Barre's excellent solo release Stage Left.

After the arrival of the orchestra, Ian and the band seemed very restrained, in order to accommodate them, and understandably so. The only song I did not appreciate the band holding back their power as prog-rockers was on "Aqualung." The entire number seemed to beg Martin Barre to cut loose with those signature guitar licks, it would never happen unfortunately. It was like a big tease waiting for a climax in a song that would never arrive. They more than made up for it with an incredible version of "Budapest." As I recall from the 2001 show, I was most impressed with that song as well.

In a night full of wondrous musical magic there were very few regrettable moments regardless of my criticisms and I would not hesitate to go see them again. What I took home with me was a night that was an historical musical event and one I shall never forget. How could anyone that loves music ask for more?

Added: August 24th 2003
Reviewer: Keith Hannaleck
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