|Jethro Tull: Live At Montreux 2003
A silver vest…a blue and white bandana…a long, silver, metallic object in hand…a goateed face…no, you’re not looking at a pirate, and he’d probably scowl at the accusation, as he’s probably been raided by more modern-day pirates than most. No, this is the look of Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, ever-trusty flute in hand, in his band’s latest DVD.
Recorded live at Claude Nobs’ legendary Montreux Jazz Festival, Jethro Tull: Live At Montreux 2003 captures the evergreen Tull in a vaguely Christmasey state – during the middle of the summer. Yes, it was the month of July, and the guys who wanted so bad to be old back when they were young declared it tasteful to pull out “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” on a summer night in Switzerland. Sure, The Jethro Tull Christmas Album was due to come out later in the year, but still…
Beyond that strange moment (“Pavane” was more passable, as it doesn’t hold as obvious an association with the yuletide season), Ian, Martin Barre and their cohorts drew from an admirable cross-section of the band’s catalog on this night, making for an interesting show. Of course, the expected classics turn up – what Tull show would be complete without “Living in the Past,” “Aqualung” or “Locomotive Breath”? – and yet, plenty of room was given to some more obscure Tull tunes. “Beside Myself” was plucked from 1995’s Roots To Branches, and “Dot Com” from 1999’s horribly titled J-Tull Dot Com pops up as well.
Anderson even throws in a plug for his solo album Rupi’s Dance with a performance of “Eurology,” which he introduces as not being related to the study of urology. Anderson actually gets in quite a few zingers between songs, and goes on at length (tongue in cheek, of course) about guitarist Martin Barre’s sad state of mind when writing “Empty Café.”
At nineteen songs, Tull’s ’03 Montreux set is a generous snapshot of the band during its later years and, while not necessarily the first place one would want to go to hear prime Tull, it’s certainly worth the die-hard’s dollar. Most anyone else, however, might take issue with the state of Anderson’s voice – it has thinned out considerably over time, and can sound nasal and occasionally flat. Blame it on old age, which these guys wear better than most of their generation. After all, they’ve been practicing that look for practically their entire career.
~ Michael Fortes