Monday, June 20, 2011

Jethro Tull, a Message Worth Hearing

Jethro Tull Concert-June 16,2011 
Cuthbert Amphitheatre Eugene, OR

      Father's Day came just in time this year to see Ian Anderson perform at 63 years old, a father of “rock-n-roll” singing songs of yesteryear with messages that are still relevant today.  
      Gates opened at 530pm and a group of hardcore Tull fans sat waiting on blankets eating brownies made with magic oil conversing about concerts of the past and the old ballrooms that rocked.  When we entered the gates, Frank Zappa’s voice sang, “Give me…your dirty love” and flashbacks from the 70’s appeared before my eyes as cohorts wearing berets, beads and tie-dye filled the amphitheatre now buzzing with conversation and dance.
      Under blue skies and sunshine most of the early birds chose to sit on the lower lawn spreading blankets though some brought their lawn chairs and sat where they were allowed in the upper section.  I didn’t see any altercations the whole evening as most of us appeared to be there for one reason and that was to enjoy the music of an artist that began his career over 40 years ago. 
      I noticed there were fewer women than men and maybe that explained the small amount of cell phone chatter that we heard.  We vowed two years ago after seeing Jackson Browne perform that we wouldn’t go to another concert since it was hard to listen as there were so many cell phone conversations thanking place all around us, made me wonder why people pay to see performers do what they do best.
      As we waited for the show to start, we befriended two of the young women guarding the assigned seating section in front of us, one with a shirt that said, “STAFF” and the other that said “Crowd Control”.  I asked the latter if she even knew who Ian Anderson was?  She replied, “oh yea, my mom listens to him all the time.”  My husband spoke of his first time seeing Tull perform at Cobo Arena in Detroit, Michigan when the admission was  $4.50 a seat.  One of them said, “you paid more for your beer tonight than you paid to see the band then.”
      Next to the price of tickets at $35 apiece, our beers were the only money we spent.  No paid parking, we walked.  Food we brought with us, most of what came from the homestead.  Omelet sandwiches made with our eggs, onions and garlic, re-hydrated tomatoes, lettuce and sprouts served on a local bakery bagel with a few kettle chips.  Compared to what I could see being sold and consumed on the premises, (not to mention the cost) ours was a meal to envy.
      I should have checked the price of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, it had to be pretty close to the cost of a beer at $6.  I heard a guy tell his wife not to bother buying a t-shirt since they wanted $35 for one, said he could get one online for less.  David brought his out of the hall of fame in perfect shape since it’s only been worn a couple of times.  I imagine it soon will become a piece of artwork on one of our walls. 
      The image of the old man from Aqualung is sketched onto our memory and we sometimes wonder if it’s the same guy we see on the street corner in Eugene, holding a sign, “I won’t tell a lie, I need change for a beer”.
      At 7pm sharp, the group walked onto stage and started playing just as I assume they did in the clubs of Blackpool.  Most of the band members wore sunglasses, and Ian commented that it was his first time to perform wearing sunglasses.  He’s played here enough to know that it’s normally the mac and umbrella that you need. 
      Wearing a black do-rag and stretch pants, Ian appeared with flute in hand waving to the crowd as he performed the opening tune.  It appeared that he was wearing black leather tennies in place of the laced up boots he once wore.
      The audience was mostly baby boomers and senior citizens, sporting hearing aids, canes and smiles.  It felt good to get out and enjoy ourselves since we don’t often indulge in spending money on entertainment. 
      We certainly got our money’s worth and have never been disappointed in any of the eight or more times we’ve seen the band perform.  Charisma, charm and energy filled the stage for over two hours as we celebrated together the 40-year anniversary of Aqualung.  The entire album was played except for “Wind up” which we’ve yet to see him perform live.
      The words to most of the group’s songs were written by Ian and in many ways he warned us of “how not to play the game.”  His message of religious indoctrination, system hegemony and resource wars were ours to listen to, maybe we didn’t buy the hearing aids soon enough.     

“When I was young and they packed me off to school
and taught me how not to play the game,
I didn't mind if they groomed me for success,
or if they said that I was a fool.”
From Wind-Up
Jethro Tull

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