MILESAGO - Tours By Overseas Artists 1964-75
Compiled by Alan Harvey
JETHRO TULL 1972:
DATES / CITIES / VENUES:
DATES / CITIES / VENUES:
Jethro Tull made two visits to Australia and New Zealand in the early Seventies. The first was in July 1972, shortly after Thick As A Brick was released, when the band was at its artistic and commercial peak. The second tour was in July-August 1974, just after the recording of the album War Child, which arguably marked end of this most successful period of their career.
Jethro Tull formed as a blues band in the UK in 1968. Alongside Yes, they became one of the most popular and successful 'progressive rock' acts of the Seventies. They are still performing today and have been fronted throughout their long career by singer, guitarist, flautist and main composer Ian Anderson, whose extrovert showmanahip was the focal point of the band in concert.
Like Yes, Jethro Tull's music often included lengthy, complex pieces, so they were rarely played on Australian commercial radio, which in the first half of the 70s was dominated by a rigid regime of Top 40 programming that concentrated on high-rotation three-minute pop singles. Yet, surprisingly, both bands managed to gain a strong following throughout Australasia, and their albums sold in large numbers.
Tull established a strong international profile in the early Seventies with a trio of increasingly successful albums that saw them make radical changes to their original blues-oriented sound, developing a unique style that incorporated a wide range of influences from jazz, classical, hard rock, soul and English folk.
They hit the British charts in 1969 and they remained one of the top recording and concert acts there for several years. They established an equally strong following in the USA, touring there regularly from 1970 onwards. Their three early Seventies LPs -- Benefit, Aqualaung, and the ambitious concept album Thick As A Brick -- gained wide recognition, and Thick As A Brick was a huge success, becoming one of the biggest-selling albums of that period.
An edited version of the 'title track' -- which was in fact a continuous 40-minute piece that extended across both sides of the LP -- made the singles charts in several countries and the album was a massive success, reaching #5 in the UK and #1 in the USA. It was tremendously popular in Australia -- reaching #1 in the Go-Set album chart in July -- even though, as noted above, the LP was rarely played in its entireity on commercial radio and could only be heard the few "album" shows that existed at the time, such as the ABC's pioneering Room To Move.
THE 1972 TOUR
"It is assured that Jethro Tull’s recorded brilliance will undoubtedly be surpassed by their live performances. Their ultimate aim while in concert is to please the audience. They make sure before hand that their showmanship, individual personalities and faultless playing will always be precisely accurate and satisfying. Now Australia can witness Tull in the flesh."
Another Go-Set reporter, Mitch (Michelle O'Driscoll) also announced: “You now have an opportunity to witness Tull in the flesh. It’s an experience you’ll never forget."
Ian 'Molly' Meldrum was just as excited, declaring he was "gearing myself for the Jethro Tull tour. This group is perhaps one of the most phenomenal groups on tour at the moment and their album 'Thick As A Brick', which is number one on the charts in America at the moment is truly one of the most superb pieces of recording that this group has come up with." It was also number one on the Go-Set Top 20 album chart in July 72. Another report stated, "On the eve of Jethro Tull’s Australian tour, the group was awarded a Gold Record in the US for the LP."
Concert Report Excerpts
As always Molly Meldrum couldn’t contain himself:
"My God Tull have to
be the most INCREDIBLE band to hit our shoes since The Beatles! Last week Tull
completely stunned Australian audiences with their concert performances. Many
words could be used to describe the leader of the group, Ian Anderson. Lets
start with GENIUS and throw in MASTER OF SHOWMANSHIP, the second WIZARD OF OZ,
the most lunatic of MUSIC MASTERS, HYPNOTIST, a brilliant flautist, superb
singer, the idiot CONDUCTOR. Never have I enjoyed a concert more."
A report from the Melbourne concert said:
"The hall was quiet, there were six thousand people sitting in their seats watching and waiting for something to happen. On stage there were at least seven or eight funny little gentleman dressed in trench coats and Sherlock Holmes peaked caps mincing and stumbling around stage, punctuated by the odd one carrying out paper cups, a lost drum case and a copy of the St Cleve Chronicle. But one by one they disappeared into the shadows until there were only five left. THEN IT HAPPENED. Like a thunderbolt, or perhaps a French nuclear bomb, the stage exploded into a sea of color. They ripped off their coats and there they were – JETHRO TULL. The roar was deafening. A nod of approval from Ian Anderson dressed in tartan tails, hair flowing, flute waving and they were into it – THICK AS A BRICK. Tull brought the fastest selling album in Australia to life. It finished on the line, “Your wise man don’t know how it feels to be THICK AS A BRICK” and the stadium turned into a sea of mass hysteria."
Another report by Piotr J. Olszewski of the Melbourne concert said,
"Ian Anderson must be seen to be believed. During the first half-hour of their concert, Jethro Tull played some of the best live music that I have experienced. The first song was an entire concert in itself. There was so much happening both musically and visually. I didn’t imagine “Thick As A Brick” could be presented live with so much success. The sound was beautiful. On the end of the first side of the 'Thick' album there’s a series of clunky notes that separate beautifully on a good stereo -– and that same effect in Melbourne’s Festival Hall of all places. And then on Side 2 comes across as very eerie and vampiry -– well, in Festival Hall this part of the concert was wonderfully executed."
Olszewski then went onto explain how the audience were exclaiming: "It’s crazy, he’s insane, we’re all insane!" Then at the end of the review Olszewski just admits, "Crazy! And the music rolled on. Rolled on to a crashing climax. And then the encore. One of the most genuine requests for an encore I’ve been involved in –- it absolutely refused to stop until Tull reappeared. If Tull hadn’t come back on stage, it would have been bedlam.”
However, a report about the Sydney concert from Darel Nugent of Go-Set, was less effusive. Nugent said: "I walked away the Horden Pavilion with the impression that Jethro Tull had been a music machine, running in perfect order and relying on a set formula". Nugent admitted he was in two minds about Tull, believing he was "hearing brilliant music with fine theatrics." But he said he also felt "bored" and that some of the humor was "contrived and forced". Like most though he did admit, "I was also dazed by their fine musicianship and superb entertainment."
(Nugent's opinion was shared by Led Zeppelin; they had toured with Tull in the USA early in their career and had become neither fans nor friends -- in fact they habitually referred to the group as "Jethro Dull". In a 1972 interview, Robert Plant criticised the repetitive nature of Ian Anderson's performance. In an interview with Guitar World, bassist John Paul Jones called Ian Anderson "a pain in the arse" and said that Jimmy Page had once quipped that if "Jethro Dull" made a live album in Los Angeles, it should be called Bore 'em at the Forum.)
A Final Word
"I’m still recovering from the recent Jethro Tull tour which has gone down in Australian music history as one of the most rewarding tours we’ve ever experienced."
Do you have more information about Jethro Tull's Australian tours?
|REFERENCES / LINKS|
Go-Set magazine (1966-75)
Jethro Tull Tour Schedule
Ministry Of Information - Tull Tour Schedule
All Music Guide
Jethro Tull Official Website
with thanks to Alan Harvey