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SETLIST: My Sunday Feeling, We Used to Know, Heavy Horses, Weathercock, Roots to Branches, Holly Herald, Wolf Unchained, Mine is the Mountain, Bourée in E Minor/ Farm on the Freeway, The Navigators, Warm Sporran, Mrs Tibbets, Dark Ages, Aqualung/ encore: Locomotive Breath.

It had been a long time for me and my last two opportunities to see Jethro Tull had been thwarted by fate so it was with eager anticipation that I took my seat in this fabulous venue. The sight of the first single ‘Sunshine Day’ (as Jethro Toe) was the first thing that greeted us; the music though was ‘My Sunday Feeling’ from Jethro Tull’s first album “This Was” reminding us what a sublime blues rock band they were from the very beginning. I had a lump in my throat for my favourite Tull number ‘We Used to Know’ (in my view one of the best songs ever written and the best guitar solo). Interestingly, a sprightly Ian Anderson referred to the relationship between The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’ and ‘We Used to Know’!

Anyone expecting a ‘greatest hits’ might have left disappointed, but this was a ‘Seven Decades’ tour and the choices were brave and at times unexpected. All the songs were accompanied by a film, culminating in the stock speeding train clip to accompany a breathtaking version of ‘Locomotive Breath’. Back to the first half though when there were brilliant versions of ‘Wolf Unchained’ and ‘Mine is the Mountain’ (the latter with its marvellous vocal harmony in the punchline) from recent adventures “Rök Flöte” and “The Zealot Gene” respectively. In the second half there would be ‘The Navigators’ and, from “The Zealot Gene”, the heart-wrenching ‘Mrs Tibbets’ illustrated by a heartbreaking film of the curse of the atom bomb. It was not long before someone shouted “AQUALUNG!” but they might not have recognised the brilliant, and more convoluted version - prog rock at its mightiest!

Jethro Tull were and are of course much more than a prog rock band. Ian Anderson’s voice may not be what it was and his stork impersonation is somewhat restricted these days but he still crouched around the stage in fine style and seemed genuinely happy to be still having the opportunity to play this timeless music, witty repartee included. His flute playing was also immaculate and the jazz influence, through Roland Kirk in particular, and rhythm and blues - I distinctly heard a Bo Diddley beat at one point, and let’s not forget the Irish whistle, both permeate the music making a unique sound that is at least as relevant today as it was over - how many decades?!

It would be remiss of me not to mention the crack band, so take a bow: John O’Hara on keyboards, Joe Parrish-Jones on guitars and mandolin, David Goodier on bass and Scott Hammond on drums.

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