On Saturday August 17th, The Greek Theater played host to Rock n’ Roll legend Ian Anderson better known as Jethro Tull. Not only was this Ian’s return to the Los Angeles stage, but also celebrates his 40th Anniversary as a musician and recording artist. His first album This Was, was released in 1968 with as many as twenty-nine albums to follow with new material to be recorded later this year.
The night began with music by the hard-rocking Celtic, Irish rock band, The Young Dubliners. Building a fervent fan base comparable to that of jam band rockers, The Young Dubliners have become notorious for the whirling "jig pits" that erupt at many of their live shows. In fact, the group's origins can be traced back to Los Angeles' vibrant pub scene where they assembled a rag-tag team of Irish transplants and like-minded American rockers, The Young Dubliners grew into a pugnacious music machine resulting in their debut album, the Rocky Road.
The Young Dubliners set up Jethro Tull perfectly and when the band bounded onto the stage, the audience was ready to go. Ian and the band got right into it with all-time classics like “Living in the Past”. Ian played a variety of instruments from the flute, to guitar and even the tambourine. It was a beautiful, star-filled night complete with a full moon smiling down on the 5,800 seat Greek Theater. Everyone including yours truly has been anxiously awaiting his return to the Greek Theater stage. The concert mostly focused on the earlier albums, which initially helped the band's popularity grow internationally.
Behind the band was a giant screen that projected images of the group from different time periods, along with some personal photos taken along the way. When they played music from “Thick as a Brick”, there was a giant newspaper with the headline THICK AS A BRICK. At the end of the song, Ian sang “To be…and held the microphone out to the audience to finish the words “thick as a brick”. Although special effects and lighting were minimal, no one was there to see lasers, pyrotechnics or flying pigs. It was ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC. The audience went nuts and from there, Ian launched right into another classic album, Aqualung.
As the show progressed, Ian announced that another musical Icon Mick Jagger had just turned 65 years old and is still touring. This was stated with a wink and a nod since Ian is 61. This was the perfect set-up for “Too Old to Rock N’ Roll, but Too Young to Die” which won a Grammy award for “Best Heavy Metal Song”. Some of the original band members are still performing, including long-time lead guitarist Martin Barr who has been with Jethro Tull since 1968. Rounding out the players are long-time drummer Doane Perry, bassist David Goodier and keyboardist John O’Hara.
I’ve had the pleasure to see Jethro Tull many times over the years and when I closed my eyes, the music sounded as great as I have ever heard it. Ian talked to the crowd a lot and apologized for his bands interpretation of a classic Johan Sebastian Bach piece which he Tullisized into his own hit song. He went on to reminisce about a little known band way back when that used to open for them named The Eagles. Their hit “Hotel California” oddly had the same chords as one of Ian’s songs.
The audience was on its feet and screaming for the encore, which included the classic crowd pleasing “Locomotive Breath”. The band then came downstage and shook hands with the front row audience. It was an incredible experience with songs that brought back a flood of memories that were associated with the music and the special connection with those times in our lives. The audience young and old alike were drawn together for this one magical night.
I had the privilege of talking briefly with Doane Perry and his wife Heather backstage after the concert. He confided in me he was ready for a little break since they have been on the road for quite awhile. They all deserve amazing credit for still being able to tour for all these years. I don’t think most young musicians today would be able to keep up. Tonight’s performance actually wraps up the bands US leg of the tour, which started back in February. The next part of the tour will begin in Beverungen Germany, and continue to Spain, Copenhagen, Denmark and other European countries and will finish up in India.
The best news of all is that The Greek Theater’s Concert Series will still be running through October. Upcoming shows include Tony Bennett, The Black Crowes, Gladys Knight, Melissa Etheridge, Wavefest, Brian Eno, Journey with Heart and Cheap Trick to name just a few.
For a complete listing of all the upcoming shows, go to the official website at www.GreekTheatreLA.com