Jethro Tull A Rock Opera, Foxwoods Casino Mashantucket, CT
Casinos suck. You enter them your lungs fall out from the filthy smell of smoke and disappointment. Your surrounded by 3 elements. Old folks in double knit and O2 tanks throwing out their kids inheritance, gangster thugs who are using their public assistance to pretend theyre Kanye for a night and this odd element of people with kids… what the hell are 5 year olds doing there? So straight out the gate Im pissed off and doing a runner since Foxwoods has chosen not to use proper signage to direct you to their ‘Grand Theater’. I asked a total of 5 people for directions.. and got 4 different answers. Onward.
As a massive Tull fan I was excited but guardedly so to see this ‘rock opera’, I purposely did little research- rather wanting to have a fresh perspective. What I had read was all negative- so lets face it, I had a bit of negative in my vibe (as always). Ian Anderson, at age 68, must be nearing the end of his route, or so you’d think. A ‘progressive’ rock band 30 years ago is a dinosaur today- right?
Welcome to the ‘opera’ which in fact is no opera at all and if you’re thinking rock opera ala The Who’s,”Tommy” stop thinking now. Jethro Tull A Rock Opera is in fact Ian Anderson and an excellent band playing back up to a movie and nothing more. As a screen (which I found a tad too small for the stage) played the story of agriculturalist Jethro Tull (look it up- its a bore.. and if you plan on seeing the show.. please research the character since otherwise you will have absolutely no idea whats going on) but relax, all is not lost.
Ian Andersons voice is shot. It is gone. He masters his nasal exclamations but anything more is just a garble. Thankfully our video leading lady Unnur Birna Bjornsdottir has the pipes of a fucking angel. I generally hate female voice but her haunting tone and gorgeous accent kept me engaged. So hats off to her image for keeping it real. How much did she get for this gig? She’s a movie– its the great rock and roll swindle and I’m pretty jealous. But as the hero of this event she deserves every penny.
Anderson for all his missing range has done something miraculous. He has amped up his musicianship. I saw him about five years ago and was blown away with his incredible vocal power, last night I was blown away by his incredible musicianship. Suppose its a case of when one door closes another opens cuz for all his missing lyrics- he kicks your ass on flute and every other instrument he touches. His grand and sweeping theatrics are dynamic and impacting… but again, he cant sing for jack…but who cares at this point?
As this back and forth story goes on the music is there with some favorites tossed in for good measure. “Songs From The Wood”, “Locomotive Breath”, “Bouree”, (blissfully instrumental) the haunting “Witch’s Promise” all showed up for sing a long.. and the crowd ate it with a spoon. The crowd, thats another story..but I’ll let them be, theyre lives are tough enough. Lets just say I may well have been the youngest person there and upon exit I felt as if I were on set for the Walking Dead.
Am I sorry I attended this event? Not at all. Unlike some performances by ‘legendary artists’, there was zero nostalgia here. Aside for some absolutely heart warming footage of our Ian in his fluffy locks piper days there was no looking back. Anderson took classic tunes, tweaked them, and got younger voices to deliver the goods- that makes him genius in my eyes.
I bid Ians voice goodbye. I’m grateful for having hear them in full glory live while they were at prime, and I mourn that loss but I also take comfort in knowing that at 68 years old you can still be progressive. You just need to modify your work and he did so quite well.
I wont grade him, nor the night. I wont name check the band or the other ‘video stars’…I wont dwell on the audience flaws… instead I’ll just admit that for one night Anderson was able to. ‘spin me back down the years and the days of my youth’.