Most progressive rock fans and loyal followers of legendary band Jethro Tull were pretty excited not only at Ian Anderson's announcement that he would be releasing a sequel to the classic Thick As A Brick album, but also taking his band out on the road in support of the CD, AND, playing the original & the sequel back to back in their entirety. Despite the disappointment of some that the Jethro Tull band were not going out on this journey with Ian (reality is Anderson's solo band probably is the new Jethro Tull), the prospect of hearing the original Thick As A Brick in its entirety along with the fine new release, was too much to pass up. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo was on hand at New York City's Beacon Theater, one of the greatest venues the city has to offer, and brings this concert report.
A classy venue steeped in history, a packed house, and the anticipation of majestic sounds to come had all waiting patiently for Ian Anderson and his band to take the stage to the first notes of "Thick As A Brick", one of the landmark albums in the progressive rock genre, originally released 40 years ago. As Ian and the band (David Goodier-bass, Scott Hammond-drums, Ryan O'Donnell-vocals, John O'Hara-keyboards, accordion, Florian Opahle-guitar) made their way on to the stage, you could see that this was not going to be any ordinary progressive rock concert, and that a certain amount of theatricality was going to be involved, which would include costumes, skits, and video projections.
I'm sure some were surprised at the appearance of O'Donnell, who handles all the vocal sections that Anderson can no longer sing. If you've seen Jethro Tull over the last decade, it's been pretty apparent that Ian just can't hit many of the upper register passages on those old classics, so thankfully he brought O'Donnell along who certainly can, and sounds like a young Ian Anderson in the process. This way, we were all able to hear the classic Thick As A Brick the way it originally sounded, instead of Anderson straining to hit the notes. He still sang some parts, but mostly played even more flute than normal (not a bad thing at all) letting Ryan do the majority of the vocals and prance about the stage. The band stormed through this classic epic concept piece, with O'Hara's organ raging and Opahle's guitar muscular and forecful, paying homage to both John Evan and Martin Barre. As always Ian was the master showman, jumping around the stage with his flute and also getting into plenty of playful banter with the audience.
After the intermission, the band came back to tackle Thick As A Brick 2, and did a fine job recreating this excellent new release, which included a little skit where they took two men ouf the audience and did a play on a prostate exam. Though I'm sure many people in the crowd probably have not heard the new album (and maybe some didn't even know if was released), not doubt more than a few were sold on it after the band finished this part of the set. As demanding and complex as both the original and the TAAB sequel are, the band did a great job of performing them here in their entirety. For an encore, we got treated to a rousing rendition of "Locomotive Breath" to send everyone home happy.
What the future holds for Jethro Tull remains to be seen, but Ian Anderson and his band were spot on at the Beacon, and if Ian, Martin, Duanne and the rest of Tull can't make it work out in the future, Anderson's solo band can certainly fit the bill.
Photos by Jack Toledano