Ian Anderson. Picture by Ian D. Hall

L.S Media *****

Back to back renditions of classic albums can surely not be a bad thing to witness. When the albums are re-created in the full pomp and ceremony by Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, then you know a night at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall listening to Thick as a Brick and its 2012 sequel Thick as a Brick 2 will be inspired and somewhat beautiful.

There may be 40 years between the two albums and times have moved on so dramatically and with such frightening speed that there may be some that wonder if one of the greatest Progressive Rock albums of all time and its anti-hero, the young Gerald ‘Little Milton’ Bostock, has any relevance in today’s Britain. To be honest you only have to ask any of the people that made up a packed out audience, young, old, male, female and to a single person the answer, undoubtedly, would have been a resounding yes.

The reason, simple, Ian Anderson and his players are just a band that you feel as though you are watching, not just for fun but as a piece of musical art that sees the wandering minstrel personified changed and moulded into a pan like figure, a pied piper of musical expression, whose flute beguiles and entrances any crowd to a spellbound submission. Whereas the original pied piper took the children away from the village, Ian Anderson leads with the subtle help of mixing excellent British story-telling with a range of talent of various instruments that combine to bring the life of Gerald Bostock to life.

With the aid of superb imagery overhead, including the running joke of a man in scuba diving equipment trying to find water, (for those that still don’t get it, check out the album Aqualung) and the heart-breaking pictures of the Wiltshire town of Royal Wootton Bassett and the scenes of soldiers being repatriated to the music of Ian Anderson was poignant and soul destroying.

The evening was broken into two sets with Thick as Brick being greeted warmly and with much applause as the music went over the audience in waves and left them stunned at the intensity.

The second half was the sequel, not an official Jethro Tull album but with the life of the young poetry cheat very much at the forefront of the night. The musicians, who had originally started the evening on stage sweeping, cleaning and dusting, measuring and looking for all intent purposes as extras from a Phil Collins video became this tight unit whose ability not only matched Ian Anderson but they played as if the world and its wife would soon know for certain just exactly who they are without having to buy the tour programme.

There will always be room in the world for an excellent night of Progressive Rock. There has to room for all time for the genius of Ian Anderson.

Ian D. Hall