Jethro Tull Live At High Voltage Festival 2011

It had been a while since the last time I had seen Jethro Tull, in fact it had been a lifetime. The first, and indeed last, time I had caught them live before was the 28th of June *cough* 1986 when they were special guests at Marillion’s Garden Party festival at Milton Keynes Bowl.

Now given some of the, erm, less than interesting acts I had caught on the Prog stage over the weekend I was quite prepared to give Tull a go in the expectation that if they were anything like some of their acolytes who had preceded them here I could always head off and watch Neurosis on the Metal Hammer stage.

So the sun was shining and there was a chilled out atmosphere as Ian Anderson led his band of minstrels out, so what were we in for….

Well there are some Tull songs that everyone must know, surely ? Tonight we were treated to what was effectively a “greatest hits” set which they opened with Living In The Past followed by the titular extract from Thick As A Brick. This was a masterclass in captivating an audience (even the neutrals like me) and eliciting a sing along that went on for pretty much the whole set.

And they started with two songs I recognised in a row, bonus šŸ™‚

Tull did include a couple of newer songs, well from 1987 anyway, in the form of Farm On The Freeway and Budapest but apart from that it was all pre 1972 with Aqualung providing the majority of the set.

Call themselves prog, pah, imagine playing the stuff that the whole crowd knew and wanted to hear….

Mother Goose, Bouree, this band have some brilliant songs which were just perfectly suited to a chilled out afternoon sitting on the grass. Although Tull were always labelled with “that” genre it’s easy to lose sight of what a good rock band they were, and indeed still are. OK so they have had their more deliberately obscure periods, which Anderson described succinctly as “when they had their heads up their collective arses” but outwith that they never had an issue making their music experimental and progressive while keeping it listenable. It’s a trick that many of the other bands on this stage over the weekend would do well to learn.

Encore-wise there was only the one, but as Locomotive Breath is probably my favourite Tull song I was happy enough. Oh, and they had some guitarist called Joe Bonamassa helping them out for that one…