Ian Anderson at Shepherd’s Bush EmpireCultureMusicLive music
Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull’s riveting performance last night at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire proved without a doubt that you are in fact never Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll. The famous track from 1970s was sung during the second half of a two-act concert that looked both forward as well as back at the band’s 40-year history.
Like the pied piper himself, Ian Anderson’s fabulous antics on the flute hypnotised the audience with rippling, mysterious melodies as he darted about the stage or else balanced on one leg, in classic “Jethro” style, wielding his primary instrument as if he were free-wheeling on the electric guitar.
The tour, with dates across England, is connected with the release of Anderson’s second solo album Homo Erraticus, an album that relates the life of the artist’s alter-ego Gerald Bostock, of which some of the stand-out tracks include Doggerland, The Turnpike Inn and The Pax Brittanica. The first half of the concert was a spectacular, beautifully played live version of the new album in its entirety, accompanied by a projection of curious medieval images flickering in the background, which enhanced the atmosphere created by the cult band’s trademark fusion of hard rock, folk music and blues.
As always, the songs were theatrically “introduced” by way of the recitation of cryptic poetry – all supposedly written by the elusive boy-genius Gerald Bostock (AKA Ian Anderson) – and themed after key events in British history. The second half of the evening was a grand run-through of Jethro Tull’s greatest hits from the late 60s onwards. Beginning with 1969’s Living in the Past from their first big hit album Stand Up, the fans were then treated to, among others, rocking performances of Sweet Dream, the wonderfully trippy Teacher and Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die, before cranking out the classic Aqualung, and rounding up the night with Loco Breath.
Despite their age, the music is still as beguiling and powerful as ever. Although the band’s unusual sound is perhaps not as universal as many of its more conventional counterparts from the Golden Age of Rock, Jethro Tull has nevertheless left an indelible mark on the face of rock-music history, and last night’s show was a reminder of exactly why.
Photo: Dena Flows
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Watch the video for Jethro Tull’s Aqualung here: