Gig review: IAN ANDERSON – Regent Theatre, Ipswich, 10 May 2014

Ian Anderson, photo by Martin Webb

Review by Yiannis (John) Stefanis

Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ian Anderson has been confusing and entertaining Rock fans around the globe since he first formed the short lived The Blades back in 1963.

While his latest ‘solo’ effort “Homo Erraticus” has attracted a variety of diverging reactions from fans and music media alike, his power to offer first class entertainment has never been in question and that is why, at the tender age of sixty six, he is still in position to undertake large scale tours and perform in venues as large as Ipswich’s Regent Theatre.

Instead of seeing the customary support act opening the show, the venue played some short videos on a screen from a variety of Folk Rock bands. By 19:30 the venue was almost full, people were in their comfortable seats and, after the lights were dimmed, we were presented with an amusing video, featuring the band’s members, providing a clever introduction to the theme of Anderson’s latest album.

Actually, one of the things I enjoyed most about the first half of the show were the short narrations and amateur theatrics from each and every member of the band as well as one Ryan O’Donnell – a fairly talented singer/actor whose additional vocals helped Anderson throughout the show.

From the fifteen songs that were performed in the first “Act”, the ones that really stood out were the opening “Doggerland”, “The Turnpike Inn”, which found Anderson’s flute competing with John O’ Hara’s accordion, as well as “After These Wars” – a four minute melody-driven song which enabled Bavarian maestro Florian Ophale to prove his impressive skills on the six string.

Following a twenty minute break, Anderson & Co returned to the stage for the second part of the show which was based on a number of Jethro Tull classics and kicked off the proceedings with an impressive version of “Living In The Past”.

It was after the performance of that classic that I realised what important ingredient had been missing from the performance of “Homo Erraticus” – the participation of, and interaction with, the crowd.

Sadly, this would cause a number of problems for the remaining hour.

After a killer version of “Bouree”, a song that was graced by a stunning bass guitar solo by David Goodier, a fan in the front rows went out of his way to annoy Ian Anderson with comments during and after his song presentations – a situation which seemed to really annoy the Prog God.

Then, during the performance of “Sweet Dream” two fans at the back of the venue decided to have a loud argument, making enough noise to spoil it for the rest of us.  Undeterred, Anderson and company continued their trip back in time, performing a number of top quality and highly energized songs, such as “Too Old To Rock’n’Roll: Too Young To Die”, “Songs From The Wood” and “My God” and left the stage following a much anticipated rendition of the all-time classic “Aqualung”.

The crowd’s insistence for an encore was satisfied with the performance of the massive “Locomotive Breath”, following which the band members took their last bows, waved at the fans and made their leave.

I have read many reviews about some of the earlier shows of the tour were people were complaining about a number of things such as “Anderson cannot hit the high notes anymore” or “What is Ryan O’Donnell doing on stage singing the Jethro Tull part?” and, frankly, I am baffled by them.

Let’s face it: Ian Anderson is no spring chicken and the possibility of having an original incarnation of Jethro Tull on stage these days is more difficult than achieving world peace, I would wager!

As long as Ian Anderson continues to release enjoyable albums like “Homo Erraticus” and presents them on stage with the assistance of a group of well-seasoned musicians such as the ones here tonight then I, for one, will be always be more than happy to support him in his quest.

A thoroughly entertaining and massively enjoyable show taking place in a very welcoming city – what more can one ask?

Ian Anderson Set List 1st half – “Homo Erraticus” album:

1. “Doggerland” 2. “Heavy Metals” 3. “Enter The Uninvited” 4. “Puer Ferox Adventus” 5.“Meliora Sequamur” 6.“The Turnpike Inn” 7. “The Engineer” 8. “The Pax Britannica”
9. “Tripudium Ad Bellum” 10. “After These Wars” 11. “New Blood, Old Veins” 12.“In For A Pound” 13. “The Browning Of The Green” 14. “Per Errationes Ad Astra” 15. “Cold Dead Reckoning”

Ian Anderson Set List 2nd half – Jethro Tull classics:

“Living In The Past”/“Bouree”/“With You There To Help Me”/“Sweet Dream”/“Teacher”
“A Passion Play Extract – Critique Oblique”/“Too Old To Rock’n’Roll: Too Young To Die”
“Songs From The Wood”/“Farm On The Freeway”/“My God”/“Aqualung”


“Locomotive Breath”

Gig review (Liverpool, 2 May)
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