IT’S 40 years and five weeks since Jethro Tull brought their Thick As A Brick tour to the City Hall. A concept album that takes the mick out of concept albums, it marked the high watermark of Tull’s success. They’ve not played the whole thing live since ’72.
Guitarist Martin Barre is absent, playing old Tull songs with ex-Tull members and the new sequel, Thick As A Brick 2, is credited to frontman Ian Anderson alone.
Tonight, the audience has two questions. How well does the original concept album hold up? And can Anderson get away with playing the sequel second?
The answers are very well and only just. Jethro Tull has always been primarily about Anderson and tonight’s backing musicians are more than capable.
At one point, Anna Phoebe joins the show on violin, live, via skype. Additional singer Ryan O’Donnell capably takes the parts that are no longer in Anderson’s range, allowing him to play more flute.
TAAB 2 is the same length and may well be Anderson’s best work in 30 years, but pales in comparison, a bunch of separate songs with a loose ‘what if’ storyline. A Change Of Horses is the highlight.
Odd to complain that a two-hour show is too short, but this one cried out for a couple of Tull classics to round things off.