Search Jeffrey Morgan’s Media Blackout archive:

This site  The Web 

Archive Newer | Older

Sunday, October 20, 2013



Live At Massey Hall In Toronto (October 18, 2013) :: Meanwhile back in the year 2008:

JEFFREY MORGAN: I don’t suppose I could talk you into mounting a touring road show of A Passion Play to show those ABBA and Queen musicals what real rock theater would be like.

IAN ANDERSON: [laughs] Well...

MORGAN: I mean, this is the ideal time.

ANDERSON: I think you just hit on the problem with my objections to anything like that because of the words rock theatre. There was a time when the idea of a more theatrical form of rock music did seem as if it was quite fitting. And I suppose in 1972 and 1973 it seemed to me that it was possible to do. But the trouble was that, while we went down that route ourselves—in a humorous way, I mean, it was never meant to be sort of serious; it was always meant to be a bit tongue in cheek and a bit fun...

MORGAN: Well, some of us got that.

ANDERSON: Yeah! Well, this was the era of Monty Python and the Flying Circus and it was all that surrealistic British humor sort of finding an outlet. But the theatricality of it, after a couple of years, made me feel uncomfortable. Especially the wake of that...I suppose...probably Alice Cooper ’round the same time as Jethro Tull was doing that kind of slightly theatrical approach to rock music.

But it seemed that very quickly people were jumping on that bandwagon and the big production tours started happening and people were going bigger and louder and brighter and it seemed somehow to get away from the spirit of what the music was about. And I think somewhere around that time I think I persuaded myself that, really, it was better to be minimizing the theatre to just the occasional use of props or personality kind of moments, rather than it being theatrical in the sense that there were stage sets and carpenters and electricians and all kinds of people you had to have along in order to put something together that became very calculated and very choreographed and scripted which was something that I didn’t feel very good about. Because the improvisation aspect of playing music is something I’ve always felt should extend to the performance as a whole.

So I kinda went 180 degrees away from the theatrical side of presentation. But what I do today, I’m well aware that there’s a theatricality in the way I present it. But it’s really a theatricality in personality terms rather than involving other people or involving other elements of presentation. I mean, big, glitzy productions are just something that make me feel uncomfortable.

*** *** ***

Meanwhile back in the year now, I’m pleased to see that I
an Anderson finally took my advice and is putting his money where his props are, even if it doesn’t involve his performing A Passion Play in its entirety with Nightcap’s “Chateau D’Isaster” as a chaser. For not only is he currently traipsing around performing the one and only legendary parody prog rock masterpiece Thick As A Brick in its dual-sided entirety, he’s also giving a bonus full-length recital, live, at no extra charge to the paying public, of the exhaustively titled but no less significant sequel TAAB2: Thick As A Brick 2: Whatever Happened To Gerald Bostock?

Now I’m sure that every man jack of you knows all about Thick As A Brick but, for those of you who are arriving a little late to the soirée, I’ll have you know that 2012 marked both the factual 40th anniversary of the original TAAB album and the fictitious 50th birthday of the album’s ten-year-old “lyricist,” precocious prodigy Gerald Bostock.

Which was more than reason enough for Ian Anderson to create a new prog rock concept album that dares to posit half a dozen different possible alternate universe scenarios of what Gerald might have done with his life over the past 40 years—with several overt and oblique nods to such past Tullian triumphs as Aqualung and the often aforementioned A Passion Play along the way.

Of course, the big tip off that the proceedings, although serious, aren’t to be taken too seriously, is the album’s official attribution to Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson which tags this ambitious effort as being neither a canonical Tull record nor an extra-curricular solo Anderson album.

Eschewing the unbanded vinyl single song cycle that defined both TAAB and APP, the new TAAB2 is divided into 17 separate songs, only one of which—“Gerald Goes Homeless: Adrift And Dumbfounded”—truly sounds as if it had been recorded back in 1972. Which only goes to show that Ian could easily have expertly aped his back catalogue had he wanted to. That he chose not to live in the past and come up instead with something that sounds thoroughly modern while still evoking echoes of the past, is a testament to the man’s continual creativity—but that’s nothing compared to what awaits you when you see him perform both compositions on stage.

For one thing, at age 66, Ian Anderson is without a doubt not only The Hardest Working Man In Progressive Rock but The Most Energetic Man In Progressive Rock as well. And although he always seemed to have cut a spry figure, in retrospect it’s now obvious that Ian Anderson’s ’60s and ’70s stage attire of coat and boots and codpiece and long hair only slowed him down! For having since divested himself of all such sartorial weight, he now bounds about with a lighter than air vim and vigor that men half his age only wish they could muster on their best days.

This explains how, during the course of a double header that lasts well over two hours, Ian Anderson has the bravura stentorian stamina to faithfully duplicate every single lead line and fill that you have memorized off both albums—which means he’s playing the flute during a full 90% of the show. Being no brainy Bostock, all figures are approximate.

But it’s not all punny wordplay and complex key signatures because the entire proceedings are continually interwoven with the above-noted Andersonian sense of humor, which manifests itself with impeccable split second timing in almost every aspect of the production, from the upstage lock-step choreography; to the out of his element frogman footage; to the audience participation Prostate Exam and public service announcement which concludes with a sober visual cautionary tribute to such similarly lost luminaries as Dennis Hopper, Johnny Ramone and Telly Savalas.

Who loves ya, baby? Ian Anderson does, sweetheart.

Listen, when it comes to “bigger and louder and brighter” prog rock concept concerts I’ve seen ’em all at their biggest and loudest and brightest from Welcome To My Nightmare and Brain Salad Surgery to Tales From Topographic Oceans and Diamond Dogs to Journey to the Center of the Earth with the National Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir of America, which is why I’m more than qualified to tell you that never before have I ever seen anyone do more with less than Ian Anderson and his crackerjack band do on this tour.

So whatever you do, wherever you are, check your local listings and if Ian Anderson is coming to your town, you owe it to yourself to buy a ducat and pick up on what he’s putting down. Because that’s not opportunity you hear knocking, that’s a telephone ringing—if all you long time Jethro Tull fans catch my drift.

Be seeing you!

Sun, October 20, 2013 | link 

Archive Newer | Older