Jethro Tull in Bangalore, 2008

I almost didn’t make it to the Tull concert. For some reason, my brain registered the date as a day later. Luckily I checked the date on the day of the concert and realized that I was losing grey cells quicker than previously thought. What was I saying?

I had my reservations about this concert because I read an interview with Ian Anderson saying that they’d be cutting their set list to accommodate playing with Anoushka Shankar. Still, I finally made it to the concert and when we got in, Ms. Shankar was already playing. I don’t know much about sitar players and I don’t get classical music (or fusion for that matter), but I thought she played pretty well.

After she finished her set, there was a break and then Tull came on stage. Ian Anderson started with My Sunday Feeling which I felt was a bit nasal. The accompanying music was terrific though and the sound was much better than the last Tull concert. It was also terrific to see Martin Barre, the lead guitarist, playing on stage. He’s a guitarist I really like, always playing those little riffs in the background of Tull songs.

Tull played some of their older hits like Too Old to Rock ‘n Roll, Heavy Horses, Mother Goose, Thick as a Brick, Aqualung, and a few others, showing off their breadth of music, and Anderson his vocal and flute playing ability. Anderson even joked about their dabbling in progressive music before he launched into Thick as a Brick. The highlight of the show for me was listening to Barre play his brilliant solo on Aqualung. Heavy Horses too was terrific and sent chills down the spine. Tull’s first set ended with Aqualung and a promise of returning with Anoushka.

About 15 to 20 minutes later, the band came on stage along with Anoushka. They played two pieces written specifically for the concert and though the music was good, I felt that the tempo that Tull had built up earlier had been taken down a few notches. Anoushka played with Tull on Bouree (in A minor) and it was good to hear that song played live. They ended with Locomotive Breath with a jam-song-like feel.

I really enjoyed the concert when Tull was on stage without anyone else. I think that playing with Anoushka really cut down their song choices. It also turned the energy of the concert down and that’s a pity because Tull were really rocking before the final set. What songs they would’ve played we’ll never know and I feel a wee bit sad that we missed out on more Tull.

But, I got to watch Tull play live again, I got to hear Anderson sing and play the metallic flute, and I got to see one of my favourite guitarists play, so it was pretty great.

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