Brighton: Jethro Tull hit the road "with a degree of trepidation"

Ian Anderson and the Jethro Tull band, one of the world’s most successful and enduring progressive rock bands, are back on the road.
Ian Anderson  -Photo credit Assunta OpahleIan Anderson  -Photo credit Assunta Opahle
Ian Anderson -Photo credit Assunta Opahle

They do so with a degree of trepidation, admits Ian.

They play Brighton Dome on Wednesday, September 22 – and Ian is clear: we really aren’t out of the pandemic yet.

“The whole thing has obviously been disappointing and frustrating. Time and time again all my efforts and all the efforts of the team that we have put into organising concerts has had to be undone, and it really is a lot of work, and it has all been for nothing. It is very, very frustrating to be playing concerts that were postponed into 2021 and that have now been postponed into 2022.”

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As he says, things have been “more up and down than Mick Jagger’s trousers.”

“But personally, I can’t complain. I live in a nice house in the country. I can walk around the garden and generally pretend that nothing is happening on the rare occasions that I crawl out from under the bed.

“But certainly I am going back to concerts with a degree of trepidation as regards my personal health. I am one of those people who are rather more vulnerable due to my age and due to underlying health conditions.

“And then of course it is a question of what happens if one of us goes down with Covid? You think of those shows that opened in London and then a week later were having to close, and that is something that happens with enormous financial implications. It is still a very precarious time to be going back into performance mode.”

So why is he doing it?

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“We have to come back. It would be very wrong just to say I don’t feel like it. There are enormous obligations. I have to take the risk as long as the audience turns up.”

And that means the band will be meticulous in all the precautions they take. Ian is confident that people should feel reassured in terms of all the preparations the venues are making; and the band are being similarly cautious: “It is very much about the whole thing not just going down the hole just because one of us catches Covid.

“It is very easy to forget last July when we were less than a thousand infections a day and there was a lot of testing being done. Now we are looking at infection rates four-zero times higher than that time last year, and we all know what happened after that going into the winter.”

As a flute player and singer, obviously Ian can’t wear a mask on stage, but he would certainly want his audiences to get double-jabbed – and he would certainly like to see them in masks, proper masks.

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“If I were in a concert hall for a couple of hours, I don’t think I would be taking further risks. If you go into Tesco’s or a concert hall or a football match or a train station, you will encounter someone with Covid. Hopefully you won’t catch it, but it is definitely a risk.”

As for the tour, it’s a tour which sees Jethro Tull go back to The Prog Years with 11 dates across the UK.

The tour will draw heavily on material from Jethro Tull’s more prog albums, much of it focussing on the early heavy hitters of the Tull catalogue, classic albums including Stand Up, Benefit, Aqualung, Thick As A Brick, Passion Play and even a touch of Thick As A Brick 2 from 2012.

As Ian says: “Dusting off many older progressive songs amongst my earliest attempts to experiment outside the blues repertoire we began with has proved hugely enjoyable.

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“Along the way, over the last 50 years, there have been a good few pieces that still strongly resonate with me today on either a musical or lyrical level. Hopefully both.

“Some are really tricky to play; some might sound that way but fall under the fingers quite naturally although the overall arrangements require feats of memory! Test my marbles; come to the party!”

Ian Anderson will be accompanied by Tull band musicians David Goodier (bass), John O’Hara (keyboards), guitarist Joe Parrish and Scott Hammond on drums. The show will be enhanced by full-scale video projection.