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Page last updated at 12:57 GMT, Monday, 15 March 2010
Review: Jethro Tull in Ipswich on their 2010 world tour

By Angus Smith
Resident of Kesgrave

Jethro Tull, 1970
Anderson and Barre (front) are the only survivors from this 1970 line-up

Jethro Tull have never been your typical rock band. They have always been extremely eclectic, with their jazz, folk, and prog influences always to the fore.

Opening with an acoustic Dun Ringill, leader Ian Anderson appeared alongside long-time cohort, guitarist Martin Barre, to serenade the crowd with a ditty about an Iron Age fort on the Isle of Skye.

No pyrotechnics or lasers in a 'deafen and blind 'em' show opener here folks. This isn't Kiss or AC/DC - this is Jethro Tull!

An unusual opening choice but then Jethro Tull has always been quirky and unusual. Anderson, once the wild-haired, bug-eyed minstrel famous for playing his flute on one leg, retains a real stage presence - skipping around and striking his poses.

His witty and interesting tales between songs were as enjoyable as some of the music. The black bandana is now as iconic as his flute.

We were treated to The Water Carrier, which is actually an Anderson solo song. It continued the acoustic, organic vibe, with a Zeppelin/Kashmir drive to it, complete with band introductions.

It also gave us first glimpse of Anderson's trademark flute playing and also featured a bongo solo from drummer Doane Perry - I told you this band were quirky!

Eurology was an instrumental which saw John O'Hara's accordian and Anderson's flute dally in a track which was saturated in a purely continental flavour.

Bouree saw Tull demonstrate some intricate interplay creating a beautiful blend of folk and the original JS Bach melody held together by the impressive rhythm section of bassist David Goodier and Perry on the kit.

Librarian with an axe

Anderson took a break, allowing guitarist Martin Barre to take the limelight. Looking more like a librarian than a guitar hero, axeman Martin Barre lead the rest of the group through a jazz rock workout that reminded me of Joe Satriani.

Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull

Don't be fooled by Barre's 'barnet' - this guy knows his way around a fretboard and his licks and riffs are what attract many of the hard rock aficionados to Tull, myself included.

After all, this is the band who pipped the rifftastic Metallica for a Grammy in for best heavy metal performance in 1989.

Do me a favour! Tull are as rock as candy floss, but their appeal to hard rockers is mainly due to Barre's guitar work and their Led Zeppelin- style folk rock.

Anderson returned for a moody version of Budapest which was reminiscent of Dire Straits. Anderson's flute gave it that Magyar feel - a very stirring track.

Anderson's vocals didn't carry such great power tonight - old age or a poor mix? It was probably a bit of both but Songs From The Wood sounded weak without its strong backing vocals which make it so interesting on record.

Birthday Card For Christmas was as disappointing as the name suggests and if you were to receive one, while Fat Man showed Anderson's humorous non-pc lyrics.

This is a band with a back catalogue of over 40 years so they are in a no-win situation when it comes to playing everyone's favourites although the omissions of Living In The Past and Minstrel In The Gallery were disappointing.

Jethro Tull, Ipswich Regent, 2010
No backdrops, pyrotechnics or pirate ships for Tull at The Regent in 2010

Greying mullets

Recent gigs I have been to of other classic rock bands have seen a mix of ages in the crowd - grandads, dads and grandchildren.

Tonight though there were few signs of younger generations of Tull fans.

The crowd was reminiscent of a CAMRA drinkers convention with receding hairlines and greying mullets which, while politely and ecstatically cheering and applauding between songs, never looked like really rocking out.

Well, hardly surprising because Jethro Tull aren't that heavy or rocking. They are instead such a diverse band who can rock out when they so choose, but they have so many other textures and sounds and are grounded in traditional English folk music which I guess is all part of their charm and enduring success.

I'd always thought of them as folk/prog rock hippies who had some good riffs such as Aqualung (which finished the main set) and I went away with my thoughts confirmed, but at the same time entertained.

Encoring with Locomotive Breath, the band finished on a high and finally had the Regent in a standing ovation for this unique and quirky band.

Jethro Tull were at the Ipswich Regent on 11 March 2010. This review was a voluntary contribution to the BBC website. If you're interesting in writing a review in return for free tickets to an event, write to us suffolk@bbc.co.uk here.

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