New York

Jethro Tull Play Carnegie Hall, Find Cure for Bird Flu

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BETTER BAND THAN FARMER


Hey, why does he do that leg thing? The answer is snakes.

Jethro Tull With Lucia Micarelli
Carnegie Hall
October 8

Something is in the air. In just the last month jukeboxes everywhere have forsaken the original masters–Clash, Ramones, Talking Heads–for the acid-blues-rock-folk-wtf-ness of Jethro Tull. NYU kids are leaving Other Music with Animal Collective‘s Feels in one hand, Tull’s Passion Play in the other. I can’t even get into a taxi without the driver telling me Tull’s J-Tull.com album from 1999 was unfairly reviled. “It’s more than rock music–it’s a revolution,” he says, like Ian Anderson invented the fucking podcast or something.

Demanding my reappraisal, Anderson and friends paid Carnegie Hall a visit in the leathery flesh, guitarist Martin Barre the only other relatively original member in tow. Anderson tripped half the audience nostalgic through all Tull’s less cultish numbers (“Aqualung”, “Locomotive Breath”) and one token tour obscurity (“Budapest”), then flitted about on stage like Johnny Depp from Pirates of the Caribbean and did the flute-penis thing for the other half, who’ve put up with their parents talking about how awesome it was seeing Anderson do that at Carnegie 35 years prior.

After that many years, Anderson’s voice can’t help but sound shot. “The key is different. They changed the key of ‘Mother Goose’,” panicked my Tull aficionado friend, who knows Tull way better than your Tull aficionado friend, sorry. But Anderson doesn’t need to convince anyone anymore. His self-selecting fans came for the statistic–and the chance to brag. On the way downstairs: “You’ve only been to 12 Tull shows? Ha! This is my 43rd!” Believe it.

Hand-picked special guest violinist Lucia Micarelli–she needed to convince, and sure as hell did. Engaging in the “black arts of improvisation,” as Anderson put it, Micarelli had rogue classical appeal: clearly the best musician for miles, but too feisty for another’s baton. Her contributions counted for the night’s gems: an arrangement of “Theme from The Godfather” that came out less cliché than expected, her body alternately swaying in ballet or contorting rabid and bloody-mouthed–appropriate visuals given the song. When Tull covered Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” Micarelli made it the highlight, her violin reinvigorating a vocal melody stale from decades of Get the Led Out radio programming and Puff Daddy’s ruinous jack. I found myself totally bamboozled–hardly.

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