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Volume 91, Issue 27

Thursday, October 16, 1997

Bored of Governors


Rock Tull they drop

©Martyn Goddard
OLD FOLK OF THE ROCK JUNGLE. Jethro Tull (the band – not the 18th century agronomist and inventor of the seed drill for whom they're named after) are in town Sunday night at Centennial Hall.

By James Pugsley
Gazette Staff

"Snot running down his nose," is a lyric that clings to anyone. So, it's no wonder thousands of Jethro Tull fans, both young and old, still want to be touched by it (the lyric, not the snot).

Instead of the loud voyage in and out of the limelight like some other '70s bands (The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith or even Supertramp), the unmistakable English folk sounds of Jethro Tull have travelled by virtue of a soft and steady flow. No flash or flare, just flow – or more to the point, blow.

As small as a flute may be, this punctured piece of metal has been the tunnel for Tull's 29-year-old light. Knowing this, Ian Anderson (flute, vocals), Martin Barre (guitar, flute), Doane Perry (drums), Jon Noyce (bass) and Andy Gidding (keyboards) are continuing their timeless, ageless music for anyone who will listen – and after more than 2,500 concerts and 29 albums (selling over 60 million copies), it appears there are listeners a-plenty, including Canadians.

"We've had a lot of gigs in Canada over the years. People know the music and we get good crowds," Barre says from his hotel room outside of New York City. "It's a little bit like visiting old friends."

The current fall Tull tour is composed of 26 North American dates, including Lulu's in Kitchener on Saturday night, London's Centennial Hall on Sunday and a performance at Toronto's Massey Hall on Monday.

According to Barre, there is one legitimate reason to push on: "We love to do it..." as well as another; "...and it's a good way to make a living." Nevertheless, Barre adds that as far as he and Anderson are concerned, they'd do it anyway.

"For us it's not like a comeback where we sit in country houses in England waiting for our finances to dwindle before we start touring again." By performing nearly every second year since 1968, Jethro Tull has had no reason to return – basically, the group never really left.

Barre, 51, doesn't believe his age or the age of the group should be a factor when it comes to the music. Songs like "Aqualung" (in which the snot lyric was born) and "Living in the Past" have kept a following of fans of all ages who show any interest in classic English folk. As the years move on, however, attracting a mature crowd may not be as much of an option.

"People at my age like to sit back in their recliner, pop in a CD and drink a bottle of Chablis," Barre said. "We often meet parents who have brought their sons or daughters to the show to give them an idea of the different kinds of music people enjoyed while they were growing up. It shows a constant regeneration of interest, which is great."

Over the past five months, Tull has performed at a number of festivals in Europe, attracting crowds of over 10,000 in Italy and 15,000 in Germany. Although the group is touring North America in celebration of the re-release of Thick as A Brick (1972), Barre said a new album may be in the works as soon as this winter.

"We don't consider ourselves to be on the first wave of bands from the '70s, or even the second wave. Tull is more like at the top of the third wave – sitting next to bands like Dire Straits or Yes."

Snot or not, Jethro Tull has been one of the best picks to survive the gooey entrails of music past. As far as a regeneration of interest is concerned, coming to Centennial Hall on Saturday night may just help Tull dig a little further into music history.

To Contact The Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997