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Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull w/ The Push Stars

August 19, 2001 @ Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom

The chimney echoes of “Silvertown” filled the wide, slightly steamy room as the milling crowd began to take their seats. Adding to the steam was frontman Chris Trapper, who was sweating through his polyester suit with every note. By the time song number two — a roaring “Meet Me On Main Street” — came about, Trapper was already showing signs of vocal strain. Off came the jacket and up went the tempo into the pumping and playful film song “Everything Shines.” When brother Tom came up to offer slick-fingered guitar support, the four-man trio really got it going. As Ryan MacMillan and Dan McLoughlin kept the low end easy and tight, the Trapper boys did their thing up front, dragging a bit through “Cinderella” before climaxing in a slightly extended “Any Little Town.”
Though the boys did a good job at winning over the older, biker-laden crowd (quite a different demo than they may have been accustomed to), when Sir Ian and the boys took the stage, the Ballroom erupted. Though Mr., Anderson required the use of a cane to take the stage (the result of a freak Folk festival accident), once he took it, he did not give it back. Starting at the very beginning of the Tull repertiore with a bass-driven “My Sunday Feeling,” the 30-year-plus quintet slowed into “Cross-Eyed Mary” before veering off into a new song from the wood called “Roots to Branches.” In between tripling solos, Ian impersonated his bandmates, especially steadfast sideman Martin Barre, who could still lick it up as well as his one-and-a-half-legged stage partner. After acoustically telling the eco-concious tale of “Jack In The Green,” the band took a moment to rest before venturing through all 391 epic seconds of “Thick As a Brick,” each one of which which made even Anderson long for the days of concept albums. The imposing march introducing an echoey “Sweet Dream” and the feline dedication “Hunt By Numbers” gave soje justificationfor Tull’s querelous Heavy Metal Grammy. But awards or no, the band showed how and why they have lasted one-tenth as long as the original “Bouree,” which was played tonight with a time-bending mixture of Bach-ian classicalism and contemporary soul. Though the lovely visual aide for the centre stage performance of “The Water Carrier” was quite lovely, the samples used to express “The Secret Language of Birds” (aka “SLOB”) were a bit annoying. Fortunately, Barre’s Gilmour-meets-Satriani solo intro to “New Day Yesterday” brought back the Blues soul and prepared the crowd for a room-rocking “Aqualung” and an extended encore of “Locomotive Breath.”
Though Anderson’s licks may not have been as sharp as they have been in days past, and though his vocal gymnastics may have led to muffled mumbling, it was still Tull. It may be 30 years on but, despite the cane, it was clear that, as the tour says, Tull still has a leg to stand on.

- Matthew S. Robinson
c. 2001, M. S. Robinson, ARR


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