At The City Hall, Newcastle, U.K., April 5, 2018

Jethro Tull - Ian Anderson, John O’Hara, David Goodier, Scott Hammond, Florian Opahle
Photo: Nick Harrison

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the release of This Was, the debut album from the world’s foremost flute fronted Folk Prog Rock band, Jethro Tull. Over the ensuing half century Tull went onto release a further 20 studio albums garnering a clutch of gold and platinum albums along the way as well as a couple of chart toppers on both sides of the Atlantic.

With something of a unique sound, Tull’s music spread across the genres from the Folk of Songs From The Wood, to the more Bluesy My Sunday Feeling to the Hard Rock thunder of Aqualung and Locomotive Breath all punctuated with the intricate musicianship to match Prog Rock’s best.

With only mainman, Ian Anderson present for the whole 50-year stretch, Tull reached deep into their catalogue focussing mainly on their 70s golden age to include the hugely melodic Heavy Horses and a couple from their debut album including Some Day The Sun Won’t Shine For You sounding every bit as vibrant as it did when originally recorded.

For the Newcastle crowd, the lilting strains of Bourree brought back fond memories of the local TV show Looks Natural while Farm on the Freeway represented one of the few forays into ’80s territory.

Anderson may be over 70 now but that didn’t stop his trademark flamingo one-legged stance while spitting out his venomous flute solos as he stalked the stage with manic expressions etched on his face.

While not playing he regaled the crowd with stories behind the songs aided and abetted by video dedications from the likes of Slash, Joe Bonamassa, Tony Iommi, Joe Elliott and Steve Harris from Maiden as well as video cameos from past members including Mick Abrahams and Jeffrey Hammond who coincidently introduced A Song For Jeffrey. It was almost a Rock ‘n’ Roll This Is Your Life and a heap of fun to boot.

With a show split over two parts clocking in at over two hours ending with a video wall featuring all 36 musicians who have been through their ranks, this was a fine birthday celebration and a fitting testament to one of the timeless legends of British Rock music.

Review By Mick Burgess


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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1 Comment

  1. I had a very different take on this gig.
    Sharing this experience with family and friends. A trip down memory lane for Tull’s 50th anniversary tour.
    Filing in we realised we were fully representing our demographic. My son must have been the youngest in the audience. (at the interval the ladies toilets were given up to the men, such are the needs of we men of a certain age). We were keen to get there on time for the start of the show. Sadly we found we had arrived late – about 40 years late. Full of anticipation, we took our seats in the back stalls.
    On came the band and we were “treated” to a chronological rollercoaster of JTs better known back catalogue from the past 50 years. and introducing us to some of the 36 – yes 36 past band members. Starting with the bluesy early 60s hits, including A Song for Jeffrey, stuff from Benefit, Dharma for One (including a drab, lazy drum solo).
    The sad thing about this show was that Iain Anderson couldn’t sing to save his life and while he used all kinds of techniques and technology to cover for this – projected film lip syncing the vocals to old footage of his performances of the songs, hours of YouTube films of locomotives (for Locomotive Breath), churches (My God) and horses (Heavy Horses), the old arrogance was maintained. He couldn’t sing for toffee! During the first song I thought there must have been a technical problem with the sound, but no, it was IA. (Did I mention, he couldn’t sing?) At times it was like listening to Norman Collier, or a track that was buffering, with the singing fighting to keep up with the band. At other times he just sounded like Norman Wisdom – Mr Grimshaw!!! And looked just like Simon Day (TV’s Brian Pern)

    Oooh. the irony of the songs….. Living in the Past, Too old to Rock’n’roll, Too Young to die.

    I felt sad that my lad had to witness the embarrassing decline of one of my music idols.

    After the interval, we were treated to an abridged version of Thick as a Brick, A Passion Play, and snippets from The more recent albums, including that springtime hit “Ring out Solstice Bells.”
    Tonight Iain Anderson showed his technical proficiency, indulged his ego, played his(our) favourite tracks, played super flute and acoustic guitar, but was supported by a lacklustre band, and with zero range to his singing voice . The humour and the fun was still there, and the songs were interspersed with funny and fond tributes on film from other rock giants from Black Sabbath, Def Leopard and Iron Maiden. But it was all just out of time.

    Tull were my teenage heroes,- edgy, eclectic, vibrant, fun. With hindsight I should have revised my expectations, settled for the nostalgia value.

    Still, in spite of that it was a fun night.
    I guess I was also living in the past a little.

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