Ian Anderson Plays Thick As A Brick At Royal Albert Hall - Noise11.com
Jethro Tull, Ian Anderson, Martin Barre

Jethro Tull at The Palais, Melbourne. Photo by Ros O'Gorman

Ian Anderson Plays Thick As A Brick At Royal Albert Hall

by Music-News.com on July 2, 2013

in News

Ian Anderson has never been a ‘normal’ rock star. His erstwhile band were named after the inventor of the seed drill and he is generally more interested in ‘Country Life’ than sex drugs and Rock & Roll but he is an enormously charismatic performer and his music has always had real depth and meaning.

Thick as a Brick was originally released in ’72 and debuted at the Royal Albert Hall – a single piece across two sides of vinyl; it was a parody of ‘Concept Albums’ and was supposedly a poem written by an eight year old, ‘Gerald’, about the trials of growing up. It backfired to a large extent because the many fans of Jethro Tull took the album to their hearts and most fans consider it to be a great piece of Prog. The follow up, Thick as a Brick 2, was released last year and formed the second half of the show.

Live, Anderson has more of the attributes of an actor than a singer. Although he has (had?) a striking voice he was always more about the show and with his capering about the stage, standing on one leg while playing the flute (apparently a natural pose for him), outlandish mummers garb and sweeping gestures he is a showman of rare ability.

Jethro Tull shows and, more recently, Ian Anderson shows, have always enjoyed elements of stagecraft and he enjoys tricking the audience and putting on a show for them. No-one goes to see Ian Anderson expecting a ‘standard’ gig.

On the day, it was a brilliant show. Anderson’s vocals don’t reach the upper brackets they once used to but this was admirably covered by the Puck-esque figure of Ryan O’Donnell, acting a multiplicity of roles including the broom sweeper and warehouseman that ‘Gerald’ is destined to become and the sergeant-major of his ‘Boy’s Own’ dreams and a superb performance by Mark Almond. The band was excellent, as you would expect and includes Anderson’s long time bass player David Goodier, John O’Hara on keys and accordion, Florian Opahie on electric guitar with Scott Hammond on drums; they never overshadowed the central performers but the undoubted star was the name on the door – Ian Anderson dominated the show as he should, either as an onstage performer or on the videos accompanying parts 1 and 2 and his flute and guitar playing were as good as ever. He is no longer ‘whippet thin’ but he still has all the energy and all the moves and all the stagecraft he ever did.

The omens were not good for this show – the hottest day of the year, the British Grand Prix Sunday, Glastonbury, Hard Rock Calling and Robbie Williams at Wembley Stadium – June 30th was not an auspicious day for a Prog event but the old place was full and not just of old beardy fatties either – the crowd had plenty of teens, ladies and the like as well as the old beardies.

The standing ovations were heartfelt and genuine and there was almost a sense of disappointment after the brilliant encore of Locomotive Breath and the lights came up but we had had 2 and half hours of brilliant music and great showmanship – time for the old boy to get his Horlicks and a nap.

Set 1 (Thick as a Brick)

  • Thick as a Brick, Part I
  • Thick as a Brick, Part II

Set 2 (Thick as a Brick 2)

  • From a Pebble Thrown
  • Pebbles Instrumental
  • Might-Have-Beens
  • Upper Sixth Loan Shark
  • Banker Bets, Banker Wins
  • Swing It Far
  • Adrift and Dumbfounded
  • Old School Song
  • Wootton Bassett Town
  • Power and Spirit
  • Give Till It Hurts
  • Cosy Corner
  • Shunt and Shuffle
  • A Change of Horses
  • Confessional
  • Kismet in Suburbia
  • What-ifs, Maybes and Might-Have-Beens


  • Locomotive Breath
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