Review: Ian Anderson In Concert
Venue: Grand Opera House, York, May 15, 2014
Ian Anderson returned to York last night to showcase his latest solo album Homo Erraticus. Many people won’t realise that the iconic rock flautist who played to a packed Grand Opera house has sold over 60 million records and was part of a band that in the Seventies was one of the biggest on the planet – sharing the stage with the likes of the Stones and Led Zeppelin.
Anderson first played in York with Jethro Tull on March 8, 1972 when they played their brand of bluesy folk rock to a crowd of students in the University Central Hall.
In circumstances stranger than fiction, there was a tepee on stage in which the members of the band made costume changes and during the gig Anderson took a phone call – which was a request for the owner of a horse to move it from out of the foyer as it was causing an obstruction!
The only horse action in York yesterday was at the Dante Festival on the Knavesmire, whilst at the Grand Opera House “Tullophiles” enjoyed an accomplished evening of music which included a complete rendition of the solo album and a host of Jethro Tull favourites after the interval.
When I interviewed Anderson a couple of months ago about the solo album he hinted that Jethro Tull as a band had run its course.
So anyone turning up expecting to hear the unique sound of Martin Barre on lead guitar may well have been disappointed had it not been for the virtuosity of Florian Opahle.
No one can recreate the unique Barre-Tull sound but Opahle shone through as a highly accomplished and technically proficient and versatile axeman.
His colleagues were equally adept and the band as a whole was tighter than the proverbial Yorkshireman’s purse-strings.
Anderson demonstrated that age had not withered his flute playing with several soaring solos that weaved their magic like days of old
It is however somewhat sorrowful that the once gloriously unique voice that propelled Tull to stardom in a bygone age has exited stage left and Anderson is now accompanied by in effect a backing singer, Ryan O’Donnell, who takes the higher registers, but who wanders the stage incongruously.
This wasn’t helped by some ineffectual mixing which didn’t bring O’Donnell’s vocals to the fore on several notable occasions.
The crowd though were willing to overlook these glitches and enjoy the overall performance of the band which was energetic and skilful.
The first half was applauded better than you would expect for any new album – where you assume that quite a few people will not have heard it, but given that this is the best work for quite a while from Anderson this was understandable.
The real affection was forthcoming in the second half though, as the greatest hits flowed forth mainly in chronological order from 1969 onwards.
Classics such as Living In The Past, Too Old To Rock And Roll and Aqualung were dispatched with aplomb as Anderson demonstrated that age had not withered his flute playing with several soaring solos that weaved their magic like days of old.
As the encore Locomotive Breath chugged along to its denouement, there was a sense that Ian Anderson still loves playing live as much as ever and still has much to give.
Who are we to deny this genuine rock godfather that chance in the coming years?
- Ian Anderson interview: ‘On stage I can’t tell the difference between me and Jethro Tull’
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