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Live At Montreux 2003

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Album Review

While the world may not need another live Jethro Tull disc recorded only two years after their last one, this sturdy, nearly two-hour 2003 gig, released simultaneously on DVD and CD (same tunes and order, but Ian Anderson's often clunky introductions are mercifully edited out of the audio-only version), finds the band in fine form. Anderson and guitarist Martin Barre, the two flagship members, effectively juggle the set to include a few new tracks and some rarities with the handful of hits ("Aqualung," "Locomotive Breath," "My God," "Living in the Past") that the fans demand out of every gig. The double disc is broken down by the band's two sets, the first being primarily acoustic-based, or at least softer material, and the second revving up the electricity and intensity. The other three members (bass, drums, and keys) are accomplished musicians who play with precision if maybe a shortage of personality. But it's really Anderson's and to a lesser extent Barre's show, and they jubilantly lead the ensemble through the blues, prog, jazz, and classical influences that have always distinguished Tull from their contemporaries. Highlights include an acoustic "Fat Man" with Barre playing flute along with Anderson, a stunning 11-minute "Budapest" from Crest of a Knave, and the exotic Middle Eastern worldbeat of "Dot Com." The sound is perfectly recorded and Anderson is in good spirits as he dips deep into the Tull catalog to dust off oldies such as "Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You" (from the group's 1968 debut), Stand Up's "Nothing Is Easy," and Benefit's "With You There to Help Me." The band injects a twist into the hoary "Locomotive Breath" as it veers off into old British folk territory in its final two minutes, and even "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" (from The Jethro Tull Christmas Album) gets a new lease on life, albeit in a slightly cheesy jazz-classical arrangement reminiscent of "Bourée." Still, this is an impressive document of a band embracing its past while pushing into fresh territory nearly four decades into its existence. Maintaining the old fan base while doing this is a tricky balancing act, but one that Anderson and Barre perform with grace and class.

Biography

Formed: 1967 in Luton, Bedfordshire, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Jethro Tull were a unique phenomenon in popular music history. Their mix of hard rock, folk melodies, blues licks, surreal, impossibly dense lyrics, and overall profundity defied easy analysis, but that didn't dissuade fans from giving them 11 gold and five platinum albums. At the same time, critics rarely took them seriously, and they were off the cutting edge of popular music by the end of the 1970s. But no record store in the country would want to be without multiple copies of each of their most...
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Live At Montreux 2003, Jethro Tull
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