Show Review: Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull at The Warfield, 11/9/2009

by Gordon Elgart on November 10, 2009

If life's a long song, tonight was a lot like life.

If life's a long song, tonight was a lot like life.

Monday night was supposed to be a night off for me. I was simply going to sit and relax at the Warfield, enjoying a quiet evening of acoustic Jethro Tull songs. I’d chat with my friend, drink some bourbon, and rock out to killer cuts from the Jethro Tull catalog. But something amazing happened that I wasn’t expecting, and I just had to share it with you.

I saw the origin of the jazz flute. You’ve probably seen Anchorman, and seen Ron Burgundy dance around the restaurant playing his flute. The scene even references “Aqualung,” the classic Jethro Tull anthem. But until you’ve seen Ian Anderson in person, you can’t possibly get the joke.

Ian Anderson was joined on stage by five incredible musicians: one multi-instrumentalist, a bass player, guitarist, viola-ist and a spectactular drummer. He went through the Jethro Tull catalog, and rather than play the hits like “Thick on a Brick” (I really DO mind that he left that one out), he focused instead on deeper cuts like “Mother Goose,” “Fat Man,” and “Jack in the Green.” Each song was introduced with a small story about the song, what it’s inspiration was, and quite a bit of blue humor. He was shockingly entertaining.

While most of the songs were nigh unrecognizable, a couple of the hits he did play had inspired arrangements, “Skating Away” and “Locomotive Breath” (which served as the encore) were the standouts to me. He also played some new material, as well as giving solo spots to the viola and the guitar.

Making magic

Making magic

But the absolute joy of this show was watching Ian Anderson jump around the stage with his flute. He’s 62 now, but when he’s dancing around with his flute, he looks like a young court jester, kicking his feet around, making crazy faces, totally getting in the moment.  “Aqualung” was converted from a hard rock song to a jazz flute extravaganza, and Ian Anderson went crazy hopping around the stage. He not only plays the flute, he also makes clicking and popping noises, hums into the flute, shouts … it’s like this different kind of instrument in his hands.

When we left the show, my friend said “that was really weird, and really awesome.”  She said it best.

This says it well, too:

Don't look directly into his eyes.

Don't look directly into his eyes.

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ben November 10, 2009 at 8:57 pm

In those photos he looks remarkably like the actor Rip Torn.

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