Uriah Heep was the warm-up band the first time I saw Jethro Tull in concert here in the Motor City the Summer of 1977. Tull was promoting their Songs From the Wood album. This vinyl was highly admired by many Tull fans at the time because of its accent on Mythical Folkie style Acoustical arrangements- a recipe which millions of Tull fans everywhere have come to expect and enjoy in their music.
On November 5th 2004, Tull performed at the 2,400 seat Stranahan Theater in Toledo, Ohio and took the stage promptly at 8:00 pm. The first hour of the concert consisted of the band performing strictly acoustical versions of their songs not typically heard at a Tull concert. In a VH1 Storyteller type setting, the band Mushroomed on stools along the stage and invested as much energy into the performance as any band is capable of without the exclamation of full drums and distorted guitar. The bands set began with Life's a Long Song, into Skating Away, Eurology, Jack In the Green, Slipstream, I Raise my Glass to You (Exceptional Martin Barre solo piece), Up the Pool, Dun Rungill, Boris Dancing, Cheap Day Return, Mother Goose, Wondring Aloud, In the Grip of Stronger Stuff (Christmas Tull tune), and finally Bouree. All songs were performed without flaw, but the unplugged set certainly would have been more enjoyable if it were louder, as requested intermittently by the audience between songs. Almost every song was introduced by interesting and amusing commentary; typical of the Ringleader Ian Anderson, as to how he drew the inspiration for the compositions. Anderson then dismissed his flock of fans for a 20 minute intermission and promised "An electrical second half which will make your ears bleed". Many fans could be heard voicing displeasure at the fact that the definitive acoustic Tull classic Thick As a Brick was not performed and would have been a perfect addition to the unplugged set.
The band returned to stage at 9:30, clearly with a more aggressive and serious attitude as they took their places on the stage. Without warning, Tull erupted into a blistering version of My Sunday Feeling. I knew that that this band intended to display the basic foundation of Blues/Rock roots which launched their success 37 years ago. Following tunes were Crossed Eyed Mary, Pavane, Beggars Farm, a 20 minute Blues Medley which included Willie Porter; a guest Blues guitarist from Louisiana reminisant of a young B.B. King. Following was an awe inspiring version of New Day Yesterday, Farm on the Freeway, Weathercock, My God and Aqualung; unfortunately a Hall of Fame classic in which Andersons acoustic guitar had so much technical difficulty at the beginning he chose to perform the song (and remainder of concert) without it. The encore included Wind Up, Locomotive Breath and finally Cheerio wrapping the evening up at 11:00pm. Again, the "Electrical Half" including vocals; could have been louder.
The energy Tull displayed 27 years ago in Detroit in front of a sold out crowd of 20,000 has dwindled, but I've seen younger acts recently with half the energy Tull had for his '04 Tour. Regardless of current or past popularity, a Jethro Tull fan will always have more than a few good reasons to see them perform live.