Jethro Tull, June 12th, 2001
Vredenburg, Utrecht, The Netherlands
By Jan Voorbij
Somewhere in March I bought the tickets for my family and me for the Jethro Tull concert that would take place on June 12. However my feelings of excitement cooled down to reservation when I read a few weeks later about the new Tull-album, suspecting that the subsequent tour would be the "umpthiest" best of tour..... How could they do this? With so many beautiful songs on record that were never played live! Well, I was proven to be wrong: I went to Utrecht a bit reserved, expecting nothing new. But that changed in the course of the evening.
I went there with my wife and kids and managed to find Jeroen and Lilian in the crowd and Pieter who was there also with his young son. Many familiar faces; many Dutch and German friends. A bit like a class reunion atmosphere. And kids, many kids brought in by their parents by way of ... er... education ;-)
The show opened with The Young Dubliners who proved to be able to warm us all up with their enthusiasm, their energy and their plain rock with an Irish sauce of fiddle and tin whistle poured over it.
After 20 minutes Tull hit the stage. The band was very tight right from the start, Martin played the stars out of the sky and Ian's voice was pretty good, though it took the full length of My Sunday Feeling to get to vocal amplification right. Three days of rest before this gig worked, I think. What then followed was a fine overview of their work over the years. The setlist - I must admit it - was very well balanced: a perfect mix of old and recent music, of rock and acoustic pieces, of instrumentals and songs. I was particularly happy hearing Roots To Branches, In The Grip Of and Love Story, and even enjoyed one of the Tull songs I never cared much for: Bungle In The Jungle. The songs sounded very powerful and energetic. I never heard them play Aqualung like this. It seemed to me that everything they played was stripped down to its essence; everything that wasn't needed was left out. Hence perhaps the impact of these songs: while I heard them so often before they now all sounded very fresh, powerful and driven. Even the band was in its presentation sober, "to the point", a kind of no-nonsense approach. No stage antics (apart from the Hare that seemed totally out of place): it was I think Jethro Tull in its essential form. It really rubbed off on the audience. Behind me two guys were singing there lungs out, people were waving and clapping and I never saw a Dutch Tull-audience behaving like that. Suddenly I realised that for most people in the audience the Tull magic still works. Hurray! Chapeau BTW for the people who did the lighting job!
Then there was a pleasant surprise: just before Aqualung they played a piece I never heard before, not even on the boots I'm working through at the moment. A beautiful fairytale like piece, however heavily underpinned by Martin's guitar and Jon's bass. I would learn more about that later.
The crowd was very enthusiastic during the concert and all worked well, apart from the occasional discords between flute and keyboard. At the end of the concert the audience stood up and granted Tull a 10 minute standing ovation!
As if they had attended a classic concert of extraordinary quality..., but then they did of course ;-)
The surprises weren't over yet: my friend Gerrit de Geus had managed to get me a backstage pass. For the first time in 33 years I would meet the Headmaster. We went down the catacombs of Vredenburg Muziekcentrum and waited talking Tull over a beer. I got acquainted to Bert Maessen (known from his JT info & bootleg review magazine "That's not the way Ian planned it!!") and André Meijer, the only Dutchman who is allowed to take pics backstage).
Then Kenny Whylie checked us out and only 10 people were allowed to stay around. We saw Andy hurry through the hallway ("Let me change first.."), looked out for Martin and Jon who were vanished and waited.
After 30 minutes Kennie invited us as a group of 4 to meet Ian. This was THE moment. I introduced myself, passed onto him a flyer with the URL's of the 5 best European Tull-sites. He knew Cup Of Wonder and smiled and thanked me for all the work (blush) and said he occasionally looked there to read what he was singing about ;-) He was very friendly, relaxed and well composed but tired. I asked him to sign my copy of the English/German edition of The Jethro Tull Songbook, which he did and he asked me where I got it, then addressed Kennie and ordered him to order 25 copies! André photographed us and then my turn was over.
While Gerrit and I walked down the hall we caught a glimpse of Doane in a room, where he ate his chicken and salad. While Gerrit asked him to sign an album, I asked him about tonight’s gig's quality. He said this was the best gig of the tour yet: everything worked well and it all came together as it was meant to be. Gerrit asked him about the new tune they played just before Aqualung. Doane explained that this had just been written and was a combination of two music pieces joined together, composed while on the road and played for the first time! So we had a primeur in Utrecht. Then Kennie came in and said: "Hey, this is this man's time off", but Doane replied "I invited them". He was very friendly and we talked about 15 minutes. He explained he was very busy working on the new Tull-album (for which recording sessions will take place between the intervals during this tour), on other musicians material and on his own project for which he took a mobile studio with him.
We decided to leave the man to finish his late supper and wished him all the best for the tour.
I've lost count of the Tull-concerts I've attented since 1980. But when Gerrit dropped me off in my town I realised that not one evening with Jethro Tull was alike to another. Tired but satisfied I hit my bed.
These were the pieces Tull played during the 110 minutes during concert:
My Sunday Feeling
Roots To Branches
Thick As A Brick
Hunt By Numbers
The Habanero Reel
The Water Carrier
Bungle In The Jungle
Pibroch Martin Barre Instr.
Farm On The Freeway
Medley Songs From The Wood / To Old To Rock 'N' Roll / Heavy Horses
In The Grip Of Stronger Stuff
Locomotive Breath / Living In The Past
Balloons / Cheerio