Jethro Tull's Martin Barre Band @ Jammin Java, Washington DC - 6 Dec 2015.
It was a pleasant surprise to see Martin Barre hit these shores for a tour. After 43 years in Jethro Tull, he has been going solo or working with bands in the UK for his own recordings and light(er) touring schedule. But he brought his full band with him tonight with drums, bass, and guitar/vocals adding to his excellent lead guitar work. He knows how important he was to Jethro Tull and how well known he was for those years, so his setlist was well dotted with nine Ian Anderson songs among the twenty he played.
He opened with a great 'To Cry You a Song' which Barre always loved, but Ian Anderson did not want to do as he struggled to get the feeling for most songs from 'Benefit'. He also did 'Sweet Dream' and 'Song for Jeffrey' (a Tull song first done by Mick Abrahams in that brief period before Barre was even in the band), which were great surprises. There were also barely recognizable versions of 'Fat Man' and 'New Day Yesterday' from the great 'Stand Up' lp as they were bluesier and twisted around--the 'dirty version' of 'New Day Yesterday' as Barre explained, clearly meaning dirty blues as it turned out.
The set was very bluesy and tough and kind of went along similar lines to Carl Palmer's interpretations of ELP songs with his band, including guitarist and a heavier sound. Yet tonight's vocalist did a nice job with the Anderson songs as well as the others and could even trade some nice leads with Barre and did a double lead when needed. The bassist was excellent and somehow managed subtlety with highly active runs.
The drummer was top notch as well, so this was one of those sets that was great for the fans and that any rock fan who enjoys technique would dig. Martin Barre was a pleasure to listen to between songs (he talks, yet sings not a note) and he displayed that quirky British humor that no doubt helped in getting along with Ian Anderson's quirky sense of humor all those decades.
And in addition to some original songs, he offered up some fine classic blues covers and a well personalized 'Eleanor Rigby' (Barre's a Beatle more than a Stone, which I would have guessed incorrectly), along with a surprising Porcupine Tree cover ('Blackest Eyes') as Barre explained he's long been a Steve Wilson fan, even before Wilson started remixing the Tull catalog. So this was an adventurous set for me and for much of the crowd, who was quite appreciative of the skill and sense of enjoyment for everyone on stage to all ends of the club.
(1) Martin Barre,
(2) Ian Anderson