I haven't seen Jethro Tull in concert in something like thirty years.
But back in the day, there was a point in time where I was a considerable fan. At one point, as the lead singer in the rock band I fronted in my pre-high school years, I even took up the flute. Which drew a more or less collective "WTF" sort of reaction from my young bandmates at the time.
Eventually I lost interest in Jethro Tull, right after they hit it really big with the Aqualung album. It was somewhere right after this time, that Tull subsequently abandoned putting individual songs on their albums altogether, in favor of album-long concept pieces like Thick As A Brick and A Passion Play. These were albums that required considerable devotion and patience just to get through. As a then sixteen year old fan, I guess I just didn't have the attention span.
Years later, I was of course reminded who Jethro Tull were when they somewhat infamously won a Grammy for best heavy metal band over the likes of Metallica. Prior to that however, what I do remember was that I used to go to lots of Tull's concerts back in the seventies.
What I recall most about those shows back in Tull's seventies heyday, besides the great opening acts Tull always seemed to have — Yes, The Eagles, and Robin Trower were among those I saw open up for them — was the wild abandon that characterized the band's live performances. This was particularly true of frontman Ian Anderson — the wild eyed, flute playing vocalist many used to actually refer to as "Jethro Tull" himself.
Anderson at the time had one of the coolest personas in all of rock music. In those concerts, Anderson would run amok about the stage like some sort of wildman, dressed in a shabby looking checkerboard trench coat, matching codpiece, and always with one leg cocked strategically high. He literally looked every bit the part of the seedy old pervert "sitting on a park bench, eyeing little girls with bad intent," of his best known song "Aqualung."
In this relatively new concert recorded in 2003 as part of the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival, that sense of wild abandon is the first thing you notice that is missing. Anderson is still very much the guy directing traffic — and he still sounds great playing the flute here. But the codpiece and wild long hair and beard are no longer there, replaced instead by a comparatively tame blue headwrap and silver vest.