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16 February, 2006

Living in the past pays

In March, Jethro Tull will perform a 19-date tour of the UK, their longest in this country since 1990.  A full month before the first concert, shows started to sell-out*.  At the time of writing, twelve are sold-out, with five more nearing that point.  They're large venues, too, in the league Tull were filling at the height of their career in the early 1970s.

This is far from being Tull's first UK tour since 1990 (full tours in 1990-96, 1999, 2001 and 2004, and individual UK festival appearences in the intervening years, not to mention hundreds of concerts abroad), so what's so special about this one?

It's being billed as 'The 'Aqualung' Tour', which implies that that album will be played in its entirety each night (see below, though...). The supposition, therefore, is that the prospect of a setlist firmly anchored in 1971 has generated an abnormal level of interest. The old proggers are digging out the tie dye....

Well; best of luck to them, and I genuinely hope everyone has fun, but this sort of retrograde stuff is dangerously close to self-parody, and is a major reason why I gave up on contemporary Tull a full decade ago (the other is their post-1995 releases). I like bands which produce compelling fresh material, and tour with material less than, ooh, 35 years old. Ian Anderson has reinterpreted some of the old material, apparently, and if he & audiences find that stimulating, great, but it's not my thing.

Incidentally, if the 2005 US tour was any indication, UK audiences might be surprised to hear revised versions of the 'Aqualung' songs in amongst the usual Tull setlist, rather than a straight rendition of the album, in album order. The US shows didn't all feature all the Aqualung songs, either, though to be fair I don't believe that was promised at those shows.
[Update 28/02/06: That's correct. The first concert of the UK tour featured virtually the same setlist as the US dates, and omitted 'Wind Up.]

*: This has been verified by the venues; I don't merely mean that ticket agents have sold all those tickets allocated to them, which is a common false indicator of 'sold-out' concerts.


I think it was about 1990 when I saw them, in the acoustically horrible Wembley Arena (The "Crest of a Knave" tour, which should date it). The setlist seemed to consist of most of Aqualung+most of Crest, and very little else.

I was decidedly underwhelmed by that performance. The only other time I saw them was supporting Marillion at the Garden Party in Milton Keynes a couple of years earlier, which was way, way better.

Posted by Tim Hall at February 16, 2006 06:51 PM
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