I noted here last week that I was going to Chicago to see Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. (Some supporters put together a great event for me while I was in town; I’ll be posting that video soon.)
I’ve been a Jethro Tull fan since 1986, which actually makes me a relative youngster among their fans. At this show, Anderson toured with his own band, to perform 1972’s Thick as a Brick and the 2012 follow-up Thick as a Brick 2. For you young whippersnappers who visit my site, the Thick as a Brick album consisted of one song, 45 minutes long. It hit #1 on the Billboard charts. This is hardly conceivable to us today.
Although not a musician myself, I can tell this is no easy piece to perform, but Ian and his band were very tight. I find the acoustics at a lot of concerts to be quite poor — it’s so loud one can hardly make out the individual instruments amid the general cacophony. Not so here: the sound was crisp and clean, and the finished product left me wanting to hear the whole show again.
I happen to think Thick as a Brick 2 is a worthy follow-up to the original, and it converted well to the live setting.
Longtime fans know that ever since a throat infection in the mid-1980s, Ian Anderson’s voice has never been quite the same. Since that time he’s written songs whose vocals are within a range he can reach. But in concert he has often struggled vocally (his flute playing, by contrast, is stronger than ever). In many shows I’ve seen, his voice was drowned out by the music. I wondered why they wouldn’t just boost him in the mix, and then wondered if maybe he was being downplayed in the mix on purpose, in order to make his vocal difficulties less conspicuous.
But in 25 years of seeing Jethro Tull, I’d say this solo Ian Anderson tour finds him louder in the mix than ever. A gutsy move on his part. He sounded better than he has sounded in quite some time. He didn’t hit all the difficult notes, but he hit nearly all of the ones he went for. What surely helped this time around was the assistance of another singer, Ryan O’Donnell, who took some of the pressure off Ian’s voice and gave him welcome staying power.
All the musicians in Ian’s band are impressive (Ian is a perfectionist, so that isn’t surprising), particularly the young (born 1983!) Florian Opahle on guitar.
Usually by the end of a concert I’ve had my fill. When this was over, I wanted it to start all over again.
And incidentally, in honor of Ian Anderson, I’m trying out the coupon code function at LibertyClassroom.com. (I gave out this code at my special event in Chicago but my web guy and I had forgotten one thing and the code didn’t work, so I’m trying to make up for that.) For the next 24 hours, type in coupon code brick on the checkout page and save $20 on a year’s subscription.