St Bride's: News - Jethro Tull Christmas Concert Review

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St Bride's: News

Jethro Tull Christmas Concert Review

Performers: Ian Anderson (flute/guitar/vocals), Dave Goodier (bass), John O'Hara (keyboards), Florian Ophale (guitars), James Duncan (drums), Ann Marie Calhoun (violin), the St Bride's Church Choir, and the Rev'd George Pitcher.

Back in the early 1970s a leading UK music paper reported that the rock group Jethro Tull had sold out the Los Angeles Forum for an unprecedented five nights, under the headline: "Jethro - Now The World's Biggest Band?". One of the albums which had helped propel JT to those heady heights was 1971's Aqualung, whose eponymous first track sympathetically explored the misfortunes of a wheezy (geddit?) tramp, Ian Anderson' lyrics having been inspired by photos of London's homeless taken by his then wife Jennie.


35 years later Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull have a somewhat lower profile, but are no less hard-working as they regularly play 100+ sell-out concerts a year across the globe, with the song Aqualung still a live highlight. It was entirely fitting therefore that the recent St Bride's Church charity concert by Ian and his musical chums was in aid of St Mungo's homeless charity.

jethro_tull2.jpg350 lucky people crammed into the beautiful Fleet Street church to hear a unique performance which embraced Jethro Tull classics (including Living In The Past, Life Is A Long Song etc), jazzily reworked Christmas carols (Holly Herald, We Five Kings), startlingly rearranged classical pieces (Bach, Mozart et al), and some fabulous un-Tull-like bluegrass fiddling from Ann Marie Calhoun, all interspersed with poetry and gospel readings by various band members. The St Bride's Church choir became Jethro Tull members for one night only, and one of the highlights was Claire Seaton's vocals on the inevitable but dramatically rearranged Aqualung.

Despite pushing 60, the much less hairy but still goggle-eyed Ian Anderson skips around with a litheness which belies his years, whether gibbering and snorting manically into his flute or deftly picking out a series of guitar notes in seemingly impossible time signatures. And yes, he still stands on one leg. In fact, as a front man of undiminished energy and charisma he was surpassed only by one other performer - step forward the Rev'd George Pitcher, whose gleefully received "walk on parts" climaxed at the end of the encore with a truly astonishing falsetto God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. I kid ye not.

A double triumph, therefore - a musical and festive treat, and a worthy cause handsomely rewarded. Congratulations to all involved both on and off stage. Or, rather, on and off altar...

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