Though some may feel Jethro Tull unwittingly wrote their own epitaph in the song “Too Old to Rock and Roll, Too Young to Die,” this show proved otherwise.
True, the Brits have been purveying their brand of progressive rock ‘n’ folk, led by the humor and flute of lead singer Ian Anderson for more than 25 years, but they beat anyone to the punch when it comes to self-deprecating age jokes.
Not that any need to be made; Jethro Tull has the energy, passion and dynamics of any of their more youthful counterparts, plus the added bonus of experience, hits and just plain class.
Opening the two-hour-and-20-minute show dressed in a collapsible top hat and tails, Anderson and his band of merry men began with “Some Day the Sun Won’t Shine for You,” a song off the very first Tull disc, “This Was.”
From there, the first half of the two-part show ran the gamut from the classic Bach instrumental (and Tull standard) “Bouree” to “Life’s a Long Song” to “Jack-A-Lynn,” often utilizing different-from-the-album arrangements and/or acoustic versions of Tull favorites.
If eclectic (when was the last time a rock band used a xylophone live?), Anderson’s humorous mien and comments (he even leapt off the stage and served the audience wine) worked well, even if his voice was not in top shape. Closing the first half with a dull, newer song, “Rocks on the Road,” and their trademark , if a tad overtheatrical, tune, “Aqualung,” Tull, in a trend Springsteen may have set for rock bands, took a 20-minute intermission.
Tull part two was slightly less eclectic, though overall, Anderson employed more mandolin and harmonica than on past tours (and less of his spritely one-legged flautist stance), and the tighter-than-tight band (the revered Barre and Pegg have been around almost since the band’s inception) indulged in fairly frequent, though enjoyable jams.
Highlights included the haunting, medieval “My God” (with a snide aside to Sinead O’Connor), the lengthy, heavy, classic-rock staple “A New Day Yesterday” and an encore that consisted of “Locomotive Breath” and a sort of “Thick as a Brick/Cross-Eyed Mary” medley.
As befitting these elder statesmen of the genre, Jethro Tull made a wise choice in choosing intimate, elegant venues (no seating for latecomers during songs!), freshening their standards, and dragging not-so-very-moldy oldies out for a breath fresh air.