Do you enjoy sitting on a park bench watching the pretty panties runs? Or are you thick as a brick with locomotive breath, blogspot readers? If you got the song references, then congrats ...you know these famous Jethro Tull songs!
Tonight, it was an extra special On The Town adventure that took this reviewer north to Highland Park, IL for a unique outdoor concert experience amongst other concert-goers. For SouthSide, it was an experience of a lifetime as she graced Valhalla again to see another legendary classic rock icon - Ian Anderson of British progressive rock band, Jethro Tull. What made this concert very special for this reviewer (and the hundreds who also attended) was hearing Thick As A Brick 1 & 2 (What Happened to Gerald Bostock) in their entirety performed on stage! Yes, blogspot readers, this was indeed a chance of lifetime ...especially after seeing Robert Plant over a week ago! The concert had an unique combination of being a rock concert and comedic dinner theater rolled into one hot rockin', nearly 2 hour show featuring Ian and the band performing the "hard" part and music while Ryan O'Donnell performed the "soft" part on backing vocals and theatrics amidst the random images to wonderfully highlight the concert theater experience. SouthSide especially liked how Ryan's expressive body language and vocal abilities delightfully put Ian's poetic words into motion whenever he appeared on stage.
Disguised as the "cleaning crew", Ian Anderson and the band cleaned, dusted and swept up the stage as part of the pre-show antics before opening with a short film featuring a trip the psychologist. Instantly, the crowd inside the pavilion (and those picnicking on the lawn) filled this concert venue with rousing cheers and applause when Ian Anderson opened with the title track - Thick As A Brick which if listening closely to the lyrics, blogspot readers, touches briefly on being mildly stupid and not accepting any new ideas before moving into other issues like class structures, conforming and the rigid morals in which the established society subjects us. Part 1 is about a boy who faces such a dilemma whether he should choose being an artist or a soldier just like his father before him and despite rebelling against society throughout the first act, we watch him gradually assimilate into that role of a soldier with songs like Tales of Your Life, Childhood Heroes and The Poet and The Painter. The second act - Thick As A Brick 2 answers the general question what happened to child genius Gerald Bostock now that he's all grown and adult living in today's modern society. However this album differs from the first by offering the audience several different scenarios such as a Evangelical yet egotistical vicar, a homeless man who is a homosexual, banker who believes greed is good, an ordinary shop owner who is married but childless, and soldier who fought in the Afghan war. Mostly "what ifs" of what Gerald could be and/or could have been. One could also say Ian Anderson was tapping into how each one of us and our lives could develop and/or change direction as well as end in a conclusion through chance encounters no matter how small or unimportant they might seem through songs like Old School Song (in which you see schoolhood photos of Ian Anderson), Medley: Power and Spirit/Give Till It Hurts and Kismet in Suburbia.
Watching both acts was simply magical as well as thought-provoking, blogspot readers, all at once. The first part of TAAB featured Ian as the pied piper hypnotically weaving the docile rhythms around his fans whenever performing on his "magic" flute. The melodic tones melding with the progressive rock sound not only filled the cool evening air with soothing floetry but also highlighting Ian's epic poetry and lyrical prose. Meanwhile his counterpart, Ryan, did a wonderful job portraying Ian's alter ego - Gerald Bostock besides adding depth and definition to the famous lyrics whenever he "acts" out the songs. At times he could be so serious while in character and yet on the flipside be so playful when needed as he hops around the stage with Ian the Pied Piper. And believe SouthSide, there's something so magical when Ian's on the flute that you will definitely hear the way he enchants the ears and feel that magic as he plays the instrument. The flute's actually an extension of the poet and the words he wants to convey to the listener without vocally singing them to you, blogspot readers. If you watch closely the video screen, pay attention to the maestro's facial expressions while on the instrument. There are moments when you can hear the classical masters and their composition influences within the progressive sound especially when tapping into Ian's epic ballads about heroes and chivalry. It completely left SouthSide fascinated by the intense poetic feel accompanying the rock side to TAAB music which featured some of the original members of Jethro Tull (2007 - 2011). Compared to TAAB1, TAAB 2 had more of a hardcore progressive rock sound with a few moments of Ian's Pied Piper in between. SouthSide enjoyed the intense yet vibrantly energetic rock sound. Also part 2 features more of Ian performing as the older Gerald Bostock with Ryan appearing on stage whenever the song selection called for him (like during Power and Spirit/Give Till It Hurts).
SouthSide wishes she could take a few photos of this spectacular rock performance but sadly this was a "no photo/video" type of show, blogspot readers, just to give you some idea what entails. However if you have the opportunity, this reviewer highly recommends checking out Ian Anderson performing Thick As A Brick 1 & 2 at a venue near you. This is definitely one concert you need to experience live ...up close and personal ...especially if the encore is an intense fiery rendition of Locomotive Breath. One word - WOW. This song certainly had this crowd fired up with excitement. And judging be the overheard comments after the concert was over, everyone had a great time.
Joining Ian Anderson (flute, vocals, guitar) was David Goodier (bass), John O'Hara (piano, orchestral conductor, keyboards), Florian Opahle (guitar), Scott Hammond (drums), Ryan O'Donnell (vocals), Anne Phoebe (violin via Skype video), and Gavin E (the guy in the wet suit) with Mike Downs on production.
Until next time, support your local scene,