Tag Archives: Royal Albert Hall

Living In The Past

Jethro Tull 50th Anniversary Concert, Royal Albert Hall, 17th April 2018

It’s all too easy to take the piss out off a Jethro Tull audience. Perhaps the gig would have been better called the Prostate Prom or even Too Old To Rock and Roll, Too Young to Die. For many it may have been a new day yesterday but it is certainly an old day now.

It is true that there were some members of the post baby boomer generation in the audience – I even saw a couple of children and thought about contacting Social Services – but even with a more severe haircut than normal I found myself in possession of more follicles than most of the males there. And you know that nature is telling you that your bohemian days are over when the queues to the male bogs are longer than those for the female equivalents and a couple of pints of Old Speckled Hen – lovely but so it should be at £6 a pint – means impromptu visits to the toilets by many to the general inconvenience of the rest of the row. Alas, the extended drum solo in Dharma for One – usually a signal for a mass exodus to the carsey – was too early in proceedings to serve its purpose.

I’m not a fan of the Royal Albert Hall. You could hardly call what Philomena Cunk deliciously described as the receptacle for Adolf Hitler’s missing bollock as an intimate venue. Sitting in the circle we were far away from the action and the sound in the early part of the concert was a bit muddy. Fortunately, either the engineers got the balance right as the show went on or my ears grew more accustomed to it all.

The band consisted of Dave Goodier on bass, John O’Hara on keyboards, Florian Opahle on lead guitar, Scott Hammond on drums and, of course, the only survivor of the original band, the septuagenarian Ian Anderson on flute, vocals, acoustic guitar and, occasionally, one leg. Anderson was helped out on vocals from time to time by virtual artists beamed up on the screen behind him, a triumph for timing, if nothing else. The video screen was also used to beam in messages from former members of the group – over the years Tull has had 37 members – and good wishes from some of the great and good of rock. While the band performed, we were treated to footage of the band in their heyday, considerably more hirsute than they are today, and fascinating as it was, I found it all a bit distracting.

Tull in the early 70s were probably the most exciting live act I had seen and, sensibly, Anderson chose to plunder his back catalogue from the first ten years of the band’s existence, ranging from the bluesy Mick Abrahams influenced numbers to the more folky rock numbers of the mid to late 70s. But their glory days were encapsulated by the albums I return to most, Aqualung and Thick As A Brick. My God, when the band is on form, as they were, there is nothing like Locomotive Breath, Cross-eyed Mary, Aqualung and a wonderful abridgement of Thick As A Brick to set what few hairs you have left standing on end. I could even forgive them a reprise of A Passion Play.

As I listened to the early numbers, I couldn’t help musing what sort of band Tull would have been if Abrahams had stayed. But there was never going to be room for two egos and look what happened to Blodwyn Pig.

Musically, it was a great night of nostalgia, featuring Tull, one of rock’s greatest survivors, at their best. Don’t tell TOWT but I have got her an early Christmas present – tickets for the Tull gig at Birmingham Cathedral in December. I wonder if they will play My God!

Innovation Of The Week (6)

Is there no limit to the lengths supermarkets will go to to pander to the strange predilections of the so-called snowflake generation?

One of those fatuous surveys that are all too common these days has found that 37% of those born after 1980 prefer to avoid handling raw meat. Seeing the way the wind is blowing, from May 3rd Sainsbury’s, I read this week, are launching rip and tip pouches, known in the trade as doybags, which allow the poor souls to put their raw chicken into a pan without having to touch it.

Whatever next? Next thing you know they will be cooking it for them!

While we are on the subject of modern-day nonsense, I went to the Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday – more of that anon. The following day I received an e-mail inviting me to complete a survey on my experience – you could spend a day filling these things in.

I was encouraged to tell them what I “really and truly thought”, but their desire for my opinion was not such that they would guarantee to respond to any comment I made. The e-mail was signed by Claire Baker who styled herself as Insight Manager.

Wtf?!

I have noticed recently a trend amongst organisations to saddle their employees with ever more ludicrous job titles but this takes the biscuit. Any insight into what this job actually entails would be gratefully received.

An Evening With Gerald Bostock

Ian-Anderson

Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull plays Thick As A Brick – Royal Albert Hall

On the weekend that saw the Rolling Stones make their debut at the Glastonbury festival, TOWT and I had our own taste of grandad rock when we went to the RAH to see TOWT’s favourite group – Jethro Tull.

This tour started out over a year ago to “celebrate” the 40th anniversary of the release of Thick As A Brick (TAAB), an album famous for its gatefold sleeve in the format of a newspaper, the St Cleve Chronicle – a friend of mine actually did the crossword, what wags we were in those days! – and for being just one track spread over two sides of an LP. The album features a poem written by an intelligent 8-year-old boy, Gerald Bostock, and explores the trials of growing up. Anderson claimed it to be a spoof of the prog-rock monstrosities that were around at the time – some were not convinced, but it was enormously successful at the time.

The original TAAB is a complex piece. Anderson takes a lead role with guitar, flute and vocal parts mastered over each other making it difficult to replicate live. He overcomes the problem by introducing another co-vocalist, his doppelganger Ryan O’Donnell, who also takes over vocals which hit ranges that anno domini prevents the maestro from reaching. Still, Anderson is sprightly enough to give enough of his party piece, playing the flute on one leg, to keep the crowd satisfied. Violinist Anna Phoebe and former Soft Cell vocalist, Marc Almond, made guest appearances. The sound was a bit bottomy for my liking and made the vocals – his word play is one of the delights of Anderson’s oeuvre – difficult to decipher in parts.

TAAB2 wonders what would have happened to Gerald – a greedy investment banker, a homeless homosexual man, a sanctimonious preacher, a soldier or a most ordinary man? – and was clearly written with live performance in mind. It gives an updated twist to the riffs of the original. This was a more confident rendition of the album than the last time we saw it and worked well. The evening was rounded off with a blistering encore version of Locomotive Breath – name checked in TAAB2 to maintain the theme – and reminded the audience that the band has still got it.

Although I prefer my live music in a more intimate setting than that which the RAH can give, it was still an enjoyable evening.

To round off the grandad theme for the weekend, having just hosted our own Bundle of Joy, we had a drink pre-concert in the Gore Hotel, venue for the Stones’ Beggars’ Banquet launch party. Stones’ memorabilia grace the walls. I for one take great delight in these symmetries of life!