Posted on 10/5/2014
Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson returned to Nashville, TN to play the historic Ryman Auditorium for the second straight year. This year Concert Blast was invited to review the concert so Mike Arnold and Brian Hasbrook headed downtown Nashville, TN to review one of Brian’s all time favorite performers, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. Since photo passes weren’t being issued for this tour, Brian got to enjoy this show while Mike took the notes for the concert review. Enjoy the review!
Written by Mike Arnold
On Wednesday October 1st 2014, Ian Anderson returned to Nashville, TN to thrill the multitudes of Jethro Tull fans as he once again performed at the Ryman. Brian Hasbrook and I were there to see this performance and to give our thoughts on the night. First let me say that I felt very young at this concert. Most of the audience consisted of fans well into their 60s and beyond. The 67 year old Ian Anderson may have looked his age, but with his energetic style, superb vocal ability, and his exceptional talent of playing the rock and roll style flute, he could pass as a man at least 20 years younger than his actual age.
As we entered the auditorium area to find our excellent seats (10th row center), we saw videos of various European bands performing on a giant video screen. This was a great idea and an fun way to learn about different artists. Although I wasn’t overly enthused with the various musical acts, I loved the idea. It’s a very inexpensive way to bring opening acts on the road (instead of just one or two). This also gives the bands the much needed exposure to hopefully enhance their career.
Once 7:40pm arrived, the videos stopped and the video screen showed a snow covered building surrounded by what seems to be the Swiss Alps. This building represented the intro of the continuous story of the “Thick As A Brick 2” album (and Gerald Bostock) with the new Ian Anderson album, “Homo Erracticus”. The concert started with the video of a grown Gerald Bostock in his insane asylum is being reluctantly treated by the medical staff (consisting of the band members). Once they give Gerald the “medical treatment” the band members appeared on stage with Ian Anderson slowly walking out from stage right playing the flute in his unique style as they performed the opening number, “Doggerland”. The first half of the show consisted of cuts from the new album featuring band members, John O’Hara – keyboards, David Goodier - bass, Florian Opahle - guitar, Scott Hammond – drums, and backup/side singer Ryan O’Donnell. That’s right, Ryan is a singer that sounds a lot like Ian Anderson. Ian has admitted recently that his voice is slowly exiting the stage. Ryan’s voice brings a better way to enjoy an Ian Anderson show with them swapping lines and by letting Ryan take the lead singing at times while Ian plays the flute during the vocal parts… and it didn’t take long for Ian to strike his famous one legged stance while playing his wind instrument.
The show continued with videos matching the lyrics of the various new songs. In “Enter the Uninvited”, Ian sings about the things that people want in this world from Coca Cola, Burger King, iphone apps, and the list goes on and on. “Puer Ferox Adventus” continued with the new tunes as Ryan O’Donnell being dressed up in a robe looking like a grim reaper, but later mopping the stage floor… strange indeed. The video screen introduced the next one as it displayed a successful looking middle aged man relaxing at home in his easy chair smoking a pipe as he mentioned, I’m “The Engineer”. This one had keyboardist John O’Hara playing the accordion.
“Tripudium Ad Bellum” continued with the new album portion of the show followed by videos and photos of war destruction during “After These Wars”. To close out the “Homo Erraticus” album cuts, Ian selected, “The Browning of the Green” (which sounds the most like a Jethro Tull tune), and “Cold Dead Reckoning” (which featured photos of past world leaders including Hitler, George W Bush, Margaret Thatcher, and others).
As the new ended, Ian Anderson mentioned that they were going to go through the history of Jethro Tull’s best beginning with one from 1969, “Bouree”. There was a huge difference in the audience response once he began the Jethro Tull songs. It was the difference of an opening act and a headliner taking the stage. Ian continued through his JT history by performing a shorter version of “Thick As A Brick” (about 15 minutes worth) which closed out the first set of Ian’s concert. Ian addressed the audience before leaving the stage, but unless you were in the first 3 rows, we had no idea what he said due to the main sound system going out. I’ve never seen this happen before at the Ryman, but after the break it never happened again.
As Brian and I were wondering through the lobby to see the merchandise for sale, the house lights dimmed back and forth signaling to get to your seats for the second set. Ten minutes later Ian Anderson and his band mates returned for part two. Without wasting time, Ian introduced another tune from 1969, which thrilled the audience, “Living In The Past”. During this song the video screen showed old clips of Ian smoking and recording the song while smoking. He looked like a wild man in those days, as oppose to the professor look of today. The show continued with one from the 1970 “Benefit” album, “With You There To Help Me”.
Ian addressed the crowd and mentioned that it was time we leave the old songs and to perform something from more recent history. Then he introduced one from the later half of 1970. Everyone laughed and he explained the video they made for the next song. He said that the hunchback Quasi Moto character forgot to take off his (explicit) rolex watch for the video of “Sweet Dream”. Following that Ian told us he let Ryan O’Donnell select a Jethro Tull classic of his choice and he selected “Teacher” (as Ian rolled his eyes and shook his head. Ryan smiled and pumped his fist in the air while the audience yelled in approval).
Ian explained that he was highly criticized for an album he released. He said the critics said he went too far with this one and added now that now thinking back on it he would have to agree, but he wants to play one from “A Passion Play” as they performed, “Critique Oblique” (from 1973). They went straight into one from 1976, “Too Old To Rock n’ Roll”. The show continued from a 1977 tune, “Song From The Wood”, then straight into “Farm On The Freeway” (which had videos displaying farm land, farm workers, and crowded highways).
Without hesitation, the place erupted as if a bomb exploded in the building. In fact it was Ian Anderson’s bomb as his guitarist sled through the opening and most recognizable riff of Jethro Tull’s entire catalog, “Aqualung”. Everyone in the building was on their feet throughout the entire song and when the song was over the band left the stage as the fans stomped and yelled for more. The band members were introduced one at a time as they came out for their curtain call. By the end of it, the keyboardist played the opening piano riffs of another song that the crowd loved while displaying their very loud approval with, “Locomotive Breath”. Once the song were over, Ian Anderson and his band mates gathered together in front center stage with arms around each other as they bowed multiple times before leaving the stage for the final time.
As I think back about the show, I was very frustrated about the swapping of lead singers, although I do appreciate the fact that Ian admits his voice is getting weaker and he found a vocalist that sounds a lot like him. I was also frustrated about the set list. Instead of billing the show as Jethro Tull’s Best, it should have been billed as Ian Anderson’s favorite Jethro Tull songs. The songs missing for me were “Bungle In The Jungle”, “Cross-Eyed Mary”, and “Skating Away (On The Thin ice Of The New Day)”. Singer Ryan O’Donnell was over acting at times and actually staring at audience members at times (very uncomfortable). The band was excellent, Ian’s voice sounded fine on this night and the sound system was good for the second set. There will be one point deducted for the “F-Bomb” Ian said. I will give this show a Concert Blast scale of 7.0. Will I go see them perform again? It depends on the band and the set list.
Brian Hasbrook’s view; Excellent band, excellent back-up / co-lead singer to assist with range, as much theatre as a concert – the imagery (some) was rather strange and slightly disturbing, and always enjoy Ian’s storytelling, still prances about the stage as always, Songs missing; “Wond’ring Aloud”, “Cross-Eyed Mary”, “Bungle in the Jungle”, “Hymn 43”, and “Minstrel in the Gallery”. This is a challenge to be truly objective as Jethro Tull and Ian Anderson have ALWAYS been a personal favorite. Overall for the Concert Blast scale 8.8
Written by Mike Arnold
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Tags: 2014, Aqualung, Best of Jethro Tull, blog, Brian Hasbrook, concert blast, concertblast, David Goodier, Florian Opahle, Homo Erraticus, Ian Anderson, Ian Anderson concert review, Jethro Tull, John O'Hara, Mike Arnold, Nashville, reviews, Ryan O’Donnell, Ryman Auditorium, Scott Hammond, TN