21 July 2005Summer Pops '05, The Big Top, Liverpool, UK
ByElwyn O. Davies
From the moment Tull entered the stage, the energy was high and the playing totally focused. It was apparent that this was going to be a special Tull night. This performance was not a pale imitation of former glories but rather a reincarnation of awesome proportions. Gone was the sloppiness which had marred Tullís last appearance in Liverpool at the Liverpool Royal Court Theatre, in 2004. This was Tull in top form. Anderson was in superb vocal form. From my position, five rows front centre, his voice sounded better than any Tull concert since 1984.
The set list, although familiar and somewhat predictable, was a real improvement from the Christmas album laden and disappointing February 2004 UK gigs. There was no encore as Roger Chapman had overrun. It's probable that a number of other tunes were left out from the set because of this. After Aqualung, Ian said "let's keep playing and not do that encore thing - time's running out".
The highlight of the night was undoubtedly Martin Barre's playing. In 30+ Tull gigs I have attended since 1974, I have rarely seen him so energised. It was Martin's night at the big top. He took numerous spotlighted solos. He smiled and joked with the crowd. He even threatened to crowd surf into the audience during Locomotive Breath. His performance was immaculate. There were many highlights including a great slow solo which embellished Serenade To A Cuckoo and his chunky riffs on Up To Me really caught fire. On this form, Martin is not ready yet to relinquish his Tull spot to the precociously talented Florian Opahle.
Thick As A Brick was a welcome return to the setlist. I had not heard Tull play this since the 2001 tour. It enabled all members of the band to show their ability. There was total empathy between musicians and music and it brought the house down. Quite stunning. Budapest was also a highlight including extended keyboard, flute, and guitar interplay with Martin adopting a fantastic tone for his solo slots in this piece.
The Big Top was almost full to its 4,500 capacity and was by far the most enthusiastic and appreciative audience I had witnessed at a Tull show in many years.
The crowd were animated in their appreciation. Recent UK performances have often been received in a muted way by the audience, but not in Liverpool on Thursday. The band received numerous standing ovations, which appeared to inspire all band members and raise their performance to a even higher level.
I left The Big Top having witnessed probably the best Tull performance I have seen in a long long time.
For A Thousand Mothers
Serenade To A Cuckoo
Thick As A Brick
Up To Me
Farm On The Freeway
New Day Yesterday
Protect And Survive