Concert review: An Evening with Ian Anderson at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater (with setlist)

The night was divided into two sets separated by a brief intermission. Anderson's charm and personality were the real highlight of the evening though. Each of the night's selections were preceded by lengthy spoken intros that amused and entertained the crowd. Anderson spoke in a tone similar to a overzealous seer or circus barker which added more color and enthusiasm to each story he recounted. Whether speaking of his farms in England, his wife or his love of classical music (and Bach in particular), Anderson successfully displayed his craft he's so carefully honed for the better part of four decades as a musician and performer. The evening relied heavily on Jethro Tull material with very few selections being chosen from the solo recordings Anderson has released throughout the years. Except for "In The Grip Of Stronger Stuff" and a tune that was so new, it hadn't even been titled yet, the nights setlist consisted mostly of Jethro Tull material. Some obscurities ("Up To Me", "Nursie") and some more well-known tunes ("Life's A Long Song", "Budapest") helped to balance out the evening's selections and ultimately pleased everyone in attendance from the casual fans to the die-hard ones.

Careful to surround himself with stellar musicians, Anderson is currently supported by an amazing band on this tour as a solo artist. Bassist David Goodier, Keyboardist and accordion player John O'Hara and drummer Scott Hammond were obviously hand-picked by Anderson. All three band members showed an incredible amount of expertise, versatility and sheer talent. This is not a band of slouches; I'd have to guess that these men are all classically trained and bred. Their musicianship is as unparalleled as it is jaw-dropping. And speaking of jaws dropping, lead guitarist Florian Ophale, the youngster of the band (his bio lists him as born in 1983; well after the heyday of Jethro Tull had come and gone), was the real show-stopper of the evening. The young phenom effortlessly shifted from intricate Tull tunes to a spotlight solo of flamenco style playing on acoustic guitar to a red hot electric reading of Bach's "Prelude in C Minor". Understandably, the reaction Ophale received throughout the night was deafening.

The evening ended with yet another Jethro Tull classic, "Locomotive Breath." And, again, the unlikely yet undeniable allure and magnetism of Jethro Tull, and more specifically of Ian Anderson, was more than obvious to the mostly middle-aged audience. I suppose as long as there's a demand for an enchanting, engaging, story-telling rock 'n' roll flute player, Anderson will continue to write, record and release his own brand of jazz-influenced folk rock and a willing audience will be there to cheer him on.

Set List:

Life's A Long Song

Up To Me


In The Grip Of Stonger Stuff

Set Aside

Hare In The Wine Cup

Wond'ring Again


Adrift and Dumbfounded

Hare That Lost His Spectacles

Bach Prelude In C Minor



new song-as yet untitled

Thick As A Brick


A Change Of Horses




Locomotive Breath

It's quite amazing to think about, especially in this day and age of technological advances and progress, that a middle-aged man playing a flute and singing tales of ancient folklore can evoke such a passionate, fevered response from a paying audience. So is the case of Ian Anderson, lead singer, flautist, multi-instrumentalist and oracle of the madrigal/folk-rock band Jethro Tull. Anderson made a rare solo appearance at Clearwater's Ruth Eckerd Hall last Thursday night and many loud Tull fans came out in droves to hear the quizzical and charismatic front man sing and tell his own brand of stories and anecdotes.

Jethro Tull, formed in England in the late 1960s, has had a strong hold over a very loyal and dedicated fan base ever since their 1968 debut album This Was. Mixing blues rock with a more prog-rock sound and throwing in a bit of avant-jazz, Tull's sound was as unusual as it was fascinating. Not completely heavy metal or folk, but somewhere in between those two genres, Jethro Tull continued to intrigue and elate its audience well into the '70s with now-classic albums such as 1971's Aqualung and its follow up Thick As A Brick. It's been said that once a Jethro Tull fan, always a Jethro Tull fan and Thursday night's vocal and appreciative crowd certainly helped to uphold that mantra.

Starting promptly at 8:05, this event billed as "An Evening with Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson" had the makings of a very long night. After all, a large chunk of Tull's catalog consists of very, very long songs and suites. As one of the bands within the prog-rock genre who saw no danger in committing an entire album side to a single song (along with Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer), Jethro Tull are no strangers to lengthy, twisted, complicated and intricate pieces of music. And, as expected, Anderson scored the biggest and most passionate responses from his audience when he delved into the title tracks of the afore-mentioned  '70s signature pieces although those were saved for the end of the night.

About The Author

Gabe Echazabal

I was born on a Sunday Morning.I soon received The Gift of loving music.Through music, I Found A Reason for living.It was when I discovered rock and roll that I Was Beginning To See The Light.Because through music, I'm Set Free.It's always helped me keep my Head Held High.When I started dancing to that fine, fine...
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