Tag Archives: Ian Anderson

Jethro Tull Broke Up and Someone Forgot to Tell Us? Ask Martin Barre

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Oscar: I tell you one thing that really drives me nuts, is people who think that Jethro Tull is just a person in a band.
psychologist: Who is Jethro Tull?

Owen Wilson, Armageddon ,  1998

Recently a friend said to me “Tull is coming in November, should we go?”  I quickly said “hell no!” and he was surprised by my quick response. Why? Well many out there might not have noticed, but Jethro Tull quietly expired at the end of the 2011 tour. “But wait!” you say, “they just played Chicago!”   Well yes, and no.

During the  2011 Tull tour, Ian Anderson dropped the bomb that  he was done performing Jethro Tull concerts, was going solo, and that Martin Barre (essentially a founding member and guitarist since 1968) and Doane Perry (drummer since 1984) were no longer needed, suddenly and without warning pulling the rug out from under them. Goodbye. No more Tull. And then…

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Could they make the apostrophe ‘s’ any smaller?

Thick as a Brick 2 by Ian Anderson was released very shortly after in 2012, which confused the hell out of Barre, Perry and any Tull fans still hanging in there. (Check out the tiny apostrophe after Jethro Tull) This move made the notoriously difficult Anderson to look even more of a calculating asshole. Barre said in an interview at the time:

“When Ian announced on the American tour last year that he didn’t want to do any more Jethro Tull shows, Doane and I had no idea that he was planning to do “Thick As A Brick 2.” This was all stuff he had planned before he had told us anything. He told us nothing, yet, obviously, he had thought this through for a long time. It is what it is. Everybody has to draw their own conclusions.”

Tull had been on life support for a while (Rock Island in 1989 many consider to be the swan song), and Anderson’s creaking vocals became more and more strained as the millenium clicked over. I had seen them with Emerson Lake and Palmer in 1996, and it was apparent that Ian’s voice had deteriorated quite noticeably. (In deference to Tull being my first ever concert circa War Child, instead of putting up a link, I will let the reader go online to any Youtube videos of Tull in the last decade). The last twenty years since that 1996 moment have seen a further frightening decline in his vocal range. But back to the Tull confusion.

The Jethro Tull website run by Ian Anderson is a source of some very strange  information for someone through with the band. Since Tull broke up, and Ian said he was done performing Tull, we have seen:

Ian Anderson- Thick as a Brick tour 2013

Ian Anderson Band Best of Jethro Tull tour 2013

Ian Anderson Thick as a Brick tour 2013 continued

Ian Anderson Band Best of Jethro Tull tour 2013 summer German tour

Ian Anderson Thick as a Brick tour 2013 continued Russia and Scandinavian tour, US tour, Canada tour

Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson tour spring 2014

Ian Anderson Band Best of Jethro Tull tour summer 2014

Ian Anderson Best of Jethro Tull tour winter 2014-2015

Ian Anderson performs Orchestral Jethro Tull spring 2015

Ian Anderson Best of Jethro Tull tour summer 2015

Jethro Tull the Rock Opera fall 2015 – winter 2016

Jethro Tull performed by Ian Anderson spring 2016

Ian Anderson Band Best of Jethro Tull tour summer 2016 Europe

Jethro Tull performed by Ian Anderson Norway summer 2016

Ian Anderson Band Best of Jethro Tull tour fall 2016

Jethro Tull performed by Ian Anderson October 2016 – June 2017

Ian Anderson Band Best of Jethro Tull tour Europe summer 2017

Jethro Tull performed by Ian Anderson summer 2017 US

Confused? I am. Apparently Ian is, as the multiple incarnations trading on the Jethro Tull name belie him being ‘done’ with Tull in 2011. Actually, seems like quite a bit of Tull going on there. So what gives? Even Anderson’s website still contains the Jethro Tull lineup with Martin Barre and Doane Perry listed as current members of Tull, along with his separate solo band lineup, disingenuously muddying the waters for anyone checking in to see what’s what. Can’t help but notice the slow morphing from ‘Ian Anderson Band’ to a more frequent ‘Jethro Tull’ label. With Barre gone…well this is pretty close to intentional deception.  http://jethrotull.com/musicians/

 

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Could they make the ‘by Ian Anderson’ any smaller?

Some think that Martin Barre left the band willingly. Many think he is still in the band. Barre said:

“I always hate to hear, ‘Oh, you’ve left Jethro Tull.’ I haven’t – Ian wanted to finish Jethro Tull, wanted to stop the band completely. It was a big personal shock to finish. Essentially the floor was pulled from underneath me, and I had a month to start from the beginning again.”

“Now there is not a Jethro Tull. Maybe there will be in five or 10 years, but probably not. It’s sad, because I see bands like Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles and Toto out there having very successful tours. They’re very special bands, and they’re enjoying a resurgence of interest from that era. But unfortunately we’re not part of that.”

This is where I have a problem, and the reason I so quickly refused to go see the band (along side with Ian’s worrying lack of vocal power). Anderson seems to be trading on the band name, and doing his damnedest to keep anyone today from knowing that Tull ceased to exist six years ago, and obfuscating the fact that the guitar sound of Martin Barre, a person integral to the whole ethos of the band, is no longer there. The guy that crafted the riffs that launched the career of one of the most popular bands in the history of rock ain’t in the band anymore, and it wasn’t his choice. The casual fan or lapsed Tull fanatic is likely unaware of this sleight of hand. The upcoming 50th anniversary of the band will soon be promoted, but a close read indicates that the there will be no reunion and the band will consist of all hired guns, plus Ian. Barre confirmed this in March 2017:

“I think that the one time it would have done would have been next year, which is the 50th anniversary of Jethro Tull, and I’ve heard absolutely nothing from anybody in five years. I think it’s on the shelf, but it’ll probably stay there.”

As Barre says above, there currently now is no Jethro Tull. Caveat Emptor my friends.

 

Image result for jethro tull current band members
Not Tull

 

Image result for jethro tull 1984
Tull
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AC/DC Bag Half Full-Gov’t Mule New Year’s at the Beacon 2014

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Warren Haynes is a guy that is known for taking chances, and somehow never stumbles. Mule, Lesh, Allmans, the Dead…the list goes on for projects he has either jump started or revitalized. As for his now main project, Gov’t Mule, his work is impressive. With over 300 songs in their working repertoire, and a working knowledge of cover tunes that is inexhaustible, they are able to pull out some obscure chestnuts to surprise a crowd. But it is Halloween and New Year’s Eve that are considered the ‘main event’. Both evenings are usually dedicated to full on tributes: Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker, the Doors….this is only a sampling. Last year’s New Year’s show at the Beacon Theater in New York City featured Robbie Krieger on guitar, as Warren Haynes and company plowed though a full 90 minutes Doors set after midnight.
This year’s theme was announced in October as an AC/DC tribute. Some early rumors had Slash as the ‘special guest'(Slash’s vocalist Myles Kennedy as Bon Scott was the actual guest, also known as Led Zeppelin’s final vocalist in the aborted 2009 Zep reunion) Initial excitement was met with some lingering doubts. Even Angus Young would admit that he is not a really exploratory guitar wizard. Would this be a good template for Gov’t Mule to successfully launch into hyperspace?
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The answer? Well not really. Although things were fairly raucous as the band hurtled into Highway to Hell, you could sense some frustration building in the crowd. Myles Kennedy took over lead vocals for the 18 song second set. It was strange to see Gov’t Mule and not see Warren singing for this long. When in the past they have had special guests at a show like this, they were usually musical sidemen, not frontmen. Vocalists were usually given a turn at a song or two. To have someone take over the stage for this long? Weird. The other problem was alluded to earlier. AC/DC songs are not really suited to stretching out musically. Longish solos don’t really feel right, nor are they really vehicles for jumping off to deeper jamming. This is what some in the crowd noticed. Warren, the focus of the band, was relegated for almost two hours to a sideman position. He had been painted into a corner musically from the first notes, and it was very difficult for him to inject his intergalactic guitar extrapolations into these concise tunes. It almost felt half way through the second set as if I were watching a top tier AC/DC cover band, and at 90 bucks a pop for tickets–the most expensive cover band ever. Others around me echoed similar sentiments. Warren looked a bit lost on the sidelines as if even he was starting to wonder if this had been really thought through. Not one of the better Mule shows I have seen, a noble failure if you will. Other things noticed: for the first time in memory, there were no balloons dropped from the ceiling at midnight. Also, the New Years tshirt pictured above as a poster oddly sold out on 12/30 during the show, meaning that everyone who attended on the 31st had no chance to buy a New Years shirt. Some in the crowd were puzzled by this lack of preparation.
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Before we finish, I want to be clear: the purpose of this article is not to take pot shots at Warren Haynes for taking chances, on the contrary, this is to point out and thank him for being one of the few out there willing to take some really big chances. In this age of completely scripted and meticulously rehearsed performances that are getting pretty far from what a real rock show once was: getting out there with an idea and seeing what happens–an event like this is pretty rare. Sometimes you fly, sometimes you stumble, but the point is you tried something different and went for it. More folks in rock music need to think this way-what was once a raison d’être is now becoming a dying breed. As Ian Anderson observed decades ago, this business is a Crazed Institution. Take chances, stay crazy and rock on in 2015 folks!