Jethro Tull 50th Anniversary Tour Kick Off

by Kevin Wierzbicki

The Jethro Tull 50th Anniversary tour kicked off at Comerica Theatre in downtown Phoenix on May 30, and even though it was the first show of the tour, Tull front man Ian Anderson and his band displayed consummate musicianship from first note to last. Besides featuring Anderson on lead vocals, flute, harmonica and guitar, the current line-up of Jethro Tull includes lead guitarist Florian Ophale, drummer Scott Hammond, bass player David Goodier and keys man John O'Hara.

Jethro Tull has such an extensive catalog that it must have been quite a chore for Anderson to pick out what songs to include in the special 50th anniversary set list, and the show started out with a nod to the band's beginning with "My Sunday Feeling" and "Love Story," cuts from Jethro Tull's 1968 debut album, This Was. Anderson spoke to the crowd for the first time after the two opening numbers, musing on the fact that the band has reached the 50-year milestone.

Full of youthful vigor throughout the show, Anderson was very animated as he sang and danced about the stage, standing still just long enough to break out his famed standing-on-one-leg pose. Guitarist Ophale was also a whirlwind of activity as he played scorching leads and delicate passages with equal aplomb. Visuals projected behind the band featured a montage of vintage and modern day Tull clips, psychedelic images and a series of clips of previous band members and other luminaries introducing songs and offering anniversary good wishes.

First to appear on screen was former Jethro Tull bassist Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond who appropriately introduced "Song for Jeffrey;" he was followed by ex Tull guitarist Mick Abrahams who intro'd "Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You." Anderson joked that bands don't play drum solos anymore like they did back in the day; he then gave drummer Hammond the spotlight (and a drum solo) for the instrumental cut "Dharma for One." The first half of the show was rounded out with "A New Day Yesterday," "Bouree," "Witches Promise," "My God" and a thundering take on "Cross Eyed Mary."

After a brief intermission the band returned to play the title cuts from Thick as a Brick, A Passion Play, Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die and Songs from the Wood. Joe Elliot of Def Leppard appeared on screen to request "Solstice Bells" and the band played it while visuals of Stonehenge were displayed. "Heavy Horses" and "Farm on the Freeway" led up to the big finish, a hard rocking run through of the band's main signature tune, "Aqualung." "Locomotive Breath" served as the encore. Jethro Tull will be on tour in North America and Europe throughout the rest of the year. Find tour dates here

Jethro Tull 50th Anniversary Tour Kick Off

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