Tull we meet again
Early in 1968, a group of young British musicians, born from the ashes of various failed regional bands, gathered together in hunger, destitution and modest optimism in Luton, north of London. With a common love of blues and an appreciation, between them, of various other music forms, they started to win over a small but enthusiastic audience in the various pubs and clubs of Southern England. The breakthrough came when they were offered the Thursday night residency at London’s famous Marquee Club in Wardour Street, Soho.
The early Jethro Tull released their first blues-oriented album, ‘This Was’, in the latter part of 1968 before moving on to more home-grown and eclectic efforts in 1969 with ‘Stand Up’ and a flutter of single releases, including Living In The Past, in the UK market.
‘Benefit’, ‘Aqualung’, and ‘Thick As A Brick’ followed and the band’s success grew internationally. Various band members came and went, but the charismatic front man – composer, flautist and singer Ian Anderson –stayed on, as he does to this day, to lead the group through its various musical incarnations.
Jethro Tull were, by the mid-1970s, one of the most successful live acts on the world stage, rivalling Led Zeppelin, Elton John and even the Rolling Stones. Surprising, really, for a group whose more sophisticated and evolved stylistic extravagance was far from the pop and rock norm of that era.
Over the next three decades, Tull travelled near and far to fans across the world. They now some 30-odd albums under their collective belts, a Grammy Award and sales totalling around 60 million,
After 42 years at the bottom, the top and various points in between, Tull are still performing typically more than a hundred concerts each year, bringing rock, folk, jazz and classical-inspired music for grown-ups to the masses. Ian Anderson and guitarist Martin Barre remain at the centre of a group of sometimes changing but always excellent musicians. The current line-up includes Doane Perry, veteran Tull drummer of some 24 years’ experience; John O’Hara on piano and accordion; and David Goodier on bass guitar.
Widely recognised as the man who introduced the flute to rock music, Scotland-born Anderson remains the crowned exponent of the popular and rock genres of flute playing. So far, no pretender to the throne has stepped forward. Anderson also plays ethnic flutes and whistles together with acoustic guitar and the mandolin family of instruments, providing the acoustic textures which are an integral part of most of the Tull repertoire.
Anderson has declared a lifelong commitment to music as a profession, being ‘far too young’ to hang up his hat or his flute – although the tights and codpiece have (mercifully) long since been consigned to some forgotten bottom drawer.
Jethro Tull will perform on the main stage at The Royal Theatre and Event Centre, Castlebar, on Sunday, March 20.
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