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JETHRO TULL Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
31 March 2010

Jethro Tull
Photo: Lee Millward

The absence of any new material since 1999's Dot Com (The Christmas Album (2003) - a mix of new material, re-recordings of Tull's own suitably-themed material and arrangements of traditional Christmas music - doesn't really count) has had little or no impact on the 'live' profile of Ian Anderson and Co.

And really, if Jethro Tull never released another album, they could continue to tour annually and fill theatres across the country until their dying day, such is the strength and enduring nature of their fanbase and back catalogue.

There might be a rebranding of each tour, be it whatever anniversary or celebration happens to fall to hand - in recent years, we've had acoustic tours, the 35th Aqualung anniversary tour, and the band's 40th anniversary tour, but frankly, who cares? While officially unbadged, this 2010 tour has been christened the 'b-sides and rarities' tour by some. And that's fair comment, with Anderson digging deeper than normal into the nooks and crannies of his repertoire.

And who can blame him? Because there's no way he's going to be able to get off that stage without playing the likes of Life's A Long Song, Aqualung and Locomotive Breath. And if it keeps him gigging, most fans will indulge the inclusion of oddities like The Water Carrier and Eurology from his Secret Language Of Birds and Rupi's Dance solo albums.

And while his vocal prowess may have faded in recent years, it benefited from songs like Life's A Long Song and A New Day Yesterday being dropped a pace or two. Not that any one in the audience really cares. We're all getting older, and none of us are as sprightly as we were when Tull first appeared on the scene in 1967. But the glories of the final canter to the finishing line - Martin Barre's blues fusion Bug, Budapest, Aqualung, and Locomotive Breath proved there's no such thing as being too old to rock 'n' roll.

Anderson has also demonstrated over recent tours that he has something of an eye for the ladies, parading a succession of femme fatale guest artists. Once again he proved there's nothing wrong with his talent spotting by inviting the up and coming French singer songwriter Saori Jo along as support. And one of the highlights of the evening was when various members of joined her on stage - Anderson providing some sublime flute accompaniment on Fairy World, and Martin Barre some supremely fluid blues lines on Fellow Travellers.

As for Tull's own set, there may have been little to set the heartbeat racing or blood pressure rising. And for both the band, and their audience, that was perhaps a good thing. But the evening gave you a warm glow - a time of good company and cheer - and a bit like having a pint of good ale with old friends at your favourite watering hole. One of life's timeless pleasures.

Setlist: Dun Ringill, The Water Carrier, Life Is A Long Song, Eurology, Nothing Is Easy, A New Day Yesterday, Tea With The Princess, Songs From The Wood, Fat Man, Bouree, A Change Of Horses, Bug, Budapest, Aqualung, Locomotive Breath

Review by Pete Whalley

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