« Too Tull an Order for Me »

Jethro Tull tix for me and my lady are nearly $98 after Ticketbastard added nearly $18 to the price that I was already teetering about, plus the drive to Escondido/Valley Center, which, with gas prices today actually means a bit more still. Don't get me wrong. I have loved Tull for 22 years (and they are the first band that I truly savored, and I even started playing drums because of them), but I just aint into shedding that much "hard earned" dough for a few hours of kicks. (I'd sort of like to get remixed and remastered albums, if anything.) The current band, according to YouTube vids I've seen over a few years, is a shadow of itself (keys and bass players seeming all the more like hired guns with nothing of the kind of personality of earlier guys), and Ian's voice is pretty bad now, even while his flute and guitar work have advanced.

Even getting an agreement from one of the band to meet and greet was nice but the expense for a band that really ought to play instrumentals now, or in "emerging markets," or should go out proudly on 43 years of laurels and not keep milking it. Kind of sad, really. Musically, they are still quite exciting when playing the bold stuff like Songs from the Wood, Heavy Horses, Black Sunday, Farm on the Freeway, but Ian really needs to call it a day with the voice. It is too identifiable an element of their sound, and it has been stressed since 1984. After a couple years' recovery time following his voice crisis that year, I liked his mellow voice on Crest of a Knave and one or two albums to follow, but since they tour all the time, no doubt that just makes it worse. I'd rather buy one good album every three years than see their tours at this price. But they don't really do albums anymore, it seems.

Yet, the three shows I have seen in the 90s have been quite enjoyable. The one to follow was perhaps a favorite concert experience of all...

In 1998, under the guise of working for Mike Keneally that day and borrowing one of the band's access passes, I got to meet the band (Martin Barre told me about Dave Mattacks of Fairport Convention getting the axe from that band when he did some silly and not-too-well-thought-out Hitler gesture at a show) and watch both MK's show and the Tull show from side stage at Humphreys. That must be my Tull peak experience. It was that day that Ian Anderson stood just feet in front of me in the wings, watching MK's blistering performance with his 5 piece band, playing the Cowlogy with its insane Zappa-like rhythmic unison ending that followed a curvy and dense vocal line. Ian had a wild grin on his face watching that, and later on got in touch with drummer Jason Harrison Smith and had him come to England to cut demos for Tull's next album (Dot Com) and Ian's solo album, SLOB. Only Jason had a sort of loose tongue that uttered something during the sessions that killed the deal just as he was getting some of the biggest chances in his career thus far. Like Ian needed Jason's creative input!

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