Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson
Bob Carr Performing Arts Center, Orlando, FL September 22, 2012
Thick as a Brick is a masterpiece. When I saw that Ian Anderson was playing that album in its entirety my ears turned into firework pinwheels and lightning shot out of my pores! Thick as a Brick, really? I gasped twice -- it was to be with full theatrics and an amazing light show. I blacked out, only to be revived on the floor, shaking my cold, sweaty, blown-apart head.
Ian Anderson is 65 years old and kicks more ass than you do. He is still the musical genius that he has always been and his band is tighter than Metallica's pants. They played flawlessly. For their first set the band played the entire Thick as a Brick album. It cartwheeled out of their instruments with those wild, exotic time changes and epic progressions that we all loved from Jethro Tull.
The band was great; however, I do have a couple of critiques. Let's get them out of the way:
1) The younger fellow singing a few of the songs, Ryan O'Donnell, has a lovely voice. I felt very safe with him singing. Safe as, say, a Disney musical. He was clean cut, wide eyed, and had such an absence of roughness that I would bet that he could sing into a pan and give it a non-stick coating. He made Wonder Bread look like pumpernickel.
2) The choreography. It looked as though some of the "steps" came straight out of a geriatric Zumba class.
During this first set I noticed that the crowd was slightly older than I expected. I had entered the Bob Carr Performing Arts center after the audience had sat down so I wasn't aware that nearly everyone besides myself and my sweet wife had wicked silver, grey, and/or patchy Grecian Formula casualty hair. The fancy lights illuminated the cotton-headed audience quite well and with spectacular color.
One of the more "theatrical" moments of the set included a mock prostate exam. Yes, I am very serious. Ian reminded us all to get prostate exams and the statistics of prostate cancer. This was visualized by a member of the audience going backstage and then a projector showing the mock exam in silhouette. Finger in ass and everything.
During the intermission my lovely wife and I, after washing our hands and steering clear of the glazed nut cart, made way for the drinks. I noticed that the coffee and Geritol shooter line was as long as the beer/cocktail line, further driving home the point that this was an older crowd. The $11 shots and $9 shitbeer could've had something to do with it, though.
We regained our seats and Ian and the bunch went at it again, tearing the roof off of the Bob Carr with Thick as a Brick part two. Brilliant musicianship and funny videos included a repeating theme of weird divers which no doubt represented Aqualung. Near the end of this second set they showed a video of Ian traipsing around the grounds near his castle accompanied by his hounds and cats. The video even went as far as to show the band goofing around in the parlor and study of that massive pile of bricks. You could smell the heather and pipe tobacco. Ian Anderson has done well for himself.
For their one-song encore, they blasted into "Locomotive Breath." The entire audience rose up on their sensible shoes and swung their arms into the air like they haven't done since 1971. I'm sure that this one song was the cause for many subsequent chiropractic appointments. They played it that well!
I'm not sure there are any bands out there who are capable of doing what they did on that stage while still providing the semblance of intimacy. They are clearly the masters of their craft. Progressive rock is alive and well and still capable of stealing a Grammy from Metallica!
Suck it Lars!