Sunday, 16 November 2014

Martin Barre in concert

I’m a happy man.  I saw Martin Barre in concert yesterday. The guy’s 68, I expected a nice show but he was amazing, and so was his band. The concert went on for more than two hours, and it was easy to see Martin and the guys were having a blast while they were playing.

This is not from yesterday's show... but the quality's good!
It’s not easy to write something structured, considering I still feel overexcited about the concert. You have to understand that Jethro Tull and their music (in case I haven’t made it clear enough) mean a lot to me, and Martin Barre was a very big part of Jethro Tull. He looks like a really chill and humble dude, I love his guitar playing, and well, I think I’m not exaggerating when I say going to yesterday’s concert was a dream come true.

However, not many people shared my opinion. That, or the concert was just not advertised (I have to admit I found out about it by chance). There weren’t more than a hundred and fifty people in the place, which could have up to a thousand people inside. Proportionally, there were more women than I’d have thought, and most of the men had either very long hair or no hair at all.

The show started with Mind Your Step, and old 60s song which can be found on Martin’s newest CD, Order of Play (which, by the way, I bought at the concert), followed by some Martin Barre song I can’t remember at the moment. Then came the serious stuff. First, Minstrel in the Gallery and To Cry You a Song, which started rallying the audience up. To Cry You a Song is such an amazing classic rock song, and having two electric guitars made it even better. 

Update: I had videos of those two songs and another two, but my channel was deleted. Fortunately, there's a video of the whole concert. Here it is:

Most of the Tull stuff they played was from the first five albums: A Song for Jeffrey, A New Day Yesterday (which featured an amazing bass solo by Alan Thomson), Fat Man, To Cry You a Song, Teacher, Wondr’ing Aloud, Hymn 43 (which Martin rearranged brilliantly, with him and singer/guitarist Dan Crisp playing mandolin), Locomotive Breath (which closed the concert) and excerpts from Thick as a Brick. They also played Minstrel in the Gallery, an instrumental version of the infamous Under Wraps’s Paparazzi, and Still Loving You Tonight, which was rearranged into a very intimate guitar duet.

Although they played lots of Tull stuff, the concert was, apart from the mandolin thing, a rock/blues one. Take into account there was no flute, no keyboards, and in the other hand there were two guitars.

There was also some Dan Crisp stuff in the program (the guy can play and sing), a Porcupine Tree song (Blackest Eyes), a cool rendition of Rock Me Baby and also some Martin Barre songs, including Misère, which may be his best solo track.

Martin is a legend
Before I finish, I would also like to praise George Lindsay, who did a great job (like everyone else) on drums.

This is it, basically. Martin put on a great show, it’s obvious he still enjoys what he does, and I can only thank him a million times for the concert, it was worth every single cent I paid. He’s still an excellent guitarist and did a few mindblowing solos. My only regret is not recharging my camera before the show, but the songs are going to be inside my head for a very, very long time anyway.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Jethro Tull (VIII): a bit too simple to be Tull

I’ve made a big mistake. I just started studying a master for very hard-working people, and I’m a lazy person. Bad idea. I don’t want to bore you with my life, I already have my friends ready to roll their eyes when I start moaning and whining; I just wanted to say this to explain that I’ll definitely write much less from now on, probably a post every month, maybe two, but certainly not more than that.

I’m feeling particularly stressed this week and I’ll write an easy post to clear my mind a little bit. Easy for me, because it’s about Jethro Tull, and easy for whoever keeps reading this after finding out I’m writing about these guys again and scowling, because it’s about a really accessible album.

Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll, Yoo Young to Die!, released in 1976, is actually their most accessible album on the 70s, something which casual listeners may be grateful for, as Tull’s music was extremely complex and not really easy to get into at that time. It may be the worst, too. I mean, it’s a good album, sure, I just find it pretty simple and unpretentious compared to most of their stuff. It’s ten time worse than, let’s say, A Passion Play, but it’s easy to like it from the beginning. It’s also the best album that features poor John Glascock, who would provide his bass guitar skills plus some backing vocals until his early death in 1979. He was certainly too young to die. I’ll write about that later, though.

Ian Anderson's comic twin brother
There’s a funny story here. In the short booklet that comes with the remastered version, Ian Anderson explains that the music was intended to support a stage musical "based on a late-'50s motor cycle rocker and his living-in-the-past nostalgia for youthful years”. And then he added “Not me, guv, honest”. That’s kind of hard to believe, considering the cover of the album depicts him. Or someone who looks like his twin brother. The booklet, by the way, also has a tiny comic book that depicts every song on the album.

This is probably the only Tull album in the 70s without a properly epic song. No My God, no Baker Street Muse, no Velvet Green... the music seems bland in comparison. A couple of the songs are totally irrelevant (Bad Eyed ‘n’ Loveless and Big Dipper), although, at least, the rest of the album is solid enough. There are a couple of catchy rockers (Quizz Kid and Taxi Grab), a simple song that somehow puts me in the best of moods (Pied Piper) and a few melancholic tracks.

The title track, one of the melancholic ones, is probably the best known song on the album, however I’d like to highlight Salamander because of its nice acoustic guitar work, and also From a Dead Beat to an Old Greaser, a song that has grown on me a lot for some reason. David Palmer has a really good sax solo here.

The remastered version includes two new tracks: A Small Cigar, which cracks me up, don’t ask me why, and Strip Cartoon, another light-hearted song that would make a stone happy.

This is it for today. There are so many things I want to write about in the near future... the joint effort by Van Morrison and The Chieftains, more Jethro Tull (their next three albums, the folky trilogy, are unforgettable), Eric Woolfson (it’s almost the 5th anniversary of his death)... so much music out there, life is good.

Here's the facebook page for the blog, where I also post random songs and articles from time to time. Also, here are all the previous posts about Jethro Tull: