Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson Plays Thick as a Brick 1 & 2 – Concert Review

Ian Anderson.(Jethro Tull)

Ian Anderson.(Jethro Tull)

October 22 2013Ian Anderson the incredibly talented leader of Jethro Tull who plays Flute, Guitar, Bouzouki, Mandolin and Haronica along with vocals was at Massey Hall on October 18 2013. Today we have a very special guest reviewer to offer his thoughts on his show. Tyrone Buccione is the incredibly talented vocalist, lead guitarist and saxophonist of Toronto hard rock band TimeGiant and a big Jethro Tull fan. If you like the way Tyrone writes please do yourself a favor and check out TimeGiant on their website. Without further delay, take it away Tyrone and hit us with an Ian Anderson review ….

In my high school days, I vividly remember going over to my friend Andy’s house after school and being lectured by his step-father, Clark, about “real rock and roll.” I also remember completely zoning into these tales of axe slinging guitar gods and wishing that I was alive in the 1970’s. Then one day, after a very convincing introduction to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Clark sat Andy and I down and made us listen to Jethro Tull’s epic tune, “The Minstrel in the Gallery,” in its entirety. I remember thinking “who the fuck is this weird beard group with a flute player” and “I think I know that Aqualung song… that’s the one about the snot running down some guy’s nose.” Then about four minutes into this eight minute progressive rock acrobatic, the riff drops; and what a riff! I became instantly hooked to Jethro Tull and their medieval and melodic folk rock. Enter “Thick as a Brick” and many nights laying in bed, staring at the ceiling and listening to parts one and two back to back. I would even sit around with my buddies and literally just listen to this album until it was finished. No talking. Just listening… and maybe some smoking… but I never thought I would get to see the full thing performed live in its entirety.

Holy SHIT. Friday October 18th, 2013, Massey Hall, Toronto, Canada – Ian Anderson performing Thick as a Brick in live it’s ENTIRETY!!! I only had to wait 10 years!

Ryan O'DonnellRyan O’Donnell

Ian Anderson has been taking “Thick as a Brick” around the world to promote his 2012 release, “Thick as a Brick 2.” The album is a sequel to Jethro Tull’s original 1972 concept about a fictional eight year old prodigy-writer named Gerald Bostock who becomes famous for his poems (which are, satirically, the album’s song lyrics) on society, philosophy and the coming and going of fads and trends. It picks up years after Gerald has grown up and has had many life experiences including a service in the Afghan war and a time becoming an evangelist preacher. Sounds like prog to me! But two full length concept albums back to back live? Can he do it?

The show starts with a video of Gerald Bostock in the first person entering a doctor’s office. The doctor, of course, is played by Ian Anderson who provides the first laughs of the many to follow during the evening. When the band takes the stage you realize that the show will be very theatrical and borderline play-based; something familiar to Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull’s live performances. The bassist (David Goodier) is dressed as an olde British judge, complete with white wig and red coat tails. Then we see another costumed actor (Ryan O’Donnell) playing the character of Gerald Bostock and who would take over many of the vocal lead parts. Ian walks on stage, absorbs his applause, and immediately starts picking the first few acoustic guitar notes; the same ones that had me hooked on the very first listen in 2003. “Really don’t mind if you sit this one out.” What a great opening line.


David Goodier
David Goodier

After the folk had been swept away, the band joins in on full volume rock. The guitarist Florian Opahle is a talented young guy and has his Martin Barre guitar tone down to a tee. It made me completely jealous when I saw he was playing with a minimal pedal set up and a normal looking Les Paul through a plain old 212 silver face Fender Twin Reverb. I want that commanding lead tone. Give it to me. 


Florian Opahle
Florian Opahle

The Quaker Oats guy on bass was unreal. The lines he had to hold down were so demanding that I was quite pleasantly surprised to not hear him cheap out on one or two. Keyboards (John O’Hara) and drums (Scott Hammond), both taking turns to solo throughout the night, were spot on, just like the record. 

But Ian Anderson demonstrated that his skill as a vocalist and especially as a flutist were still virtuosic in every sense of the word. I mean, I don’t say this often but the guy manhandled the shit out of that flute. At one point, Ian pranced his way over to the guitarist and started harmonizing him with really high bends. I realized that I would never experience a sound like this and soaked it all in. Then comes Ian’s commanding stage presence. He gives the crowd his signature pose, up on one leg like a stork and grunting into that instrument’s blow hole like a wild boar. What would Jack Black say? “mmmm…mmmkay…Ian Anderson? NAAAAAILED IT!”


Scott Hammond
Scott Hammond

After Ian Anderson’s first standing ovation and 20 minute intermission, the crowd returns to yet another hilarious video; this time of Ian playing a “posh bloke” giving a tour through an English garden. Thick as a Brick 2 begins with a short and funny narrative by Ian and the haunting triplets that can be heard throughout the original album. Then the band kicks right in again. I loved that he brought back some musical themes of the original album during the second half of this performance and played to the crowd’s need to grasp onto a nostalgic “something I used to know and love”. Smart man! And a business man on stage, too! He took the opportunity to jokingly mention his merchandise table and promote the sale of his new album, something that any indie artist today in the music industry today has to do –  just like me!

John O'Hara
John O’Hara

The performance ends with a very familiar acoustic line and lyric that started the whole album off in 1972. It is here that you connect the most with the rock and roll veteran and realize that there are now very few of these pioneers and story tellers still walking the Earth. “So you ride youselves over the fields, and you make all your animal deals. And your wise men don’t know how it feels, to be thick as a brick.” Standing ovation number 2? Check. Nodding with an immediate purpose and slow-clapping while making a stink face? Double check.

Fuck yeah Clark, I finally saw it!

Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 – Along with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Yes’ Close to the Edge, Thick as a Brick became one of my most influential albums and inspired me to write the 70’s style of rock that I play with TimeGiant. The show was great, the sound was glorious, and I would not hesitate to see it again. You can definitely hear the Jethro Tull in the breakdown of TimeGiant’s “After the Battle of Mt. Megiddo”. His flute playing encouraged me to bring my high school concert band instrument, the alto saxophone, into the forefront of our live show and song recordings. You can hear some saxy sex lines on our new album, “A Night to Remember”, now available on iTunes. Check out “Candy From a Feather” and “Hard Lovin Woman”. *Released Sept 10th, 2013 and produced by Greig Nori (SUM41, Treble Charger) and Jon Drew (Alexisonfire, Tokyo Police Club) and mixed by David Bottrill (Muse, Tool).

Charlie McKittrick and Tyrone Buccione of TimeGiant
Charlie McKittrick and Tyrone Buccione of TimeGiant

Editors Note: Check out Tyrone’s band below performing I Am The Fire a T-Mak World Favorite.

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One Response to Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson Plays Thick as a Brick 1 & 2 – Concert Review

  1. Andy says:

    I don’t think there is a single album I have listened to front to back more than ‘Thick as a brick’. It defined my teenage years, it filled my headphones on midnight walks and bus trips to work. I finally got to see it performed live, after missing Ian twice before, about three years ago at the NAC in Ottawa with Clark. Your fantastic review tells me the show you saw was quite similar to mine, minus the new album and videos. In terms of musicality, true-to-album sound, and memorable musical experiences, it ranks in my top three shows to date. I’m glad you finally got the opportunity to see this legend. If you by chance have to review another one of his shows, I might have to accompany you as your photographer?

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