Ian Anderson Live in Greensburg, PA - Concert Review

Ian Anderson and Ryan O'Donnell (Photo credit - Alexander Huber)

LINEUP:

- Ian Anderson / vocals, flute, acoustic guitar
- John O'Hara / Hammond organ, piano, keyboards
- David Goodier / bass guitar, glockenspiel
- Florian Opahle / electric guitar
- Scott Hammond / drums, percussion
- Ryan O'Donnell / vocals

In the months leading up to this show, I'd heard some bootlegs from this tour and I was admittedly not looking forward to it. I (like many) felt that Anderson's voice was a little weak and the current band couldn't cut it with the older guys. Because of this, I kept my expectations low and attainable.

Boy, was I wrong. I am happy to report that it was an incredible show full of energy which I didn't know Anderson was capable of delivering live anymore. The show was dynamic, loud, exciting, and the performances were alive and brimming with passion.

The first set was the highlight for me. The Homo Erraticus lite set jumped off the stage with a certain immediacy and power that the disc lacks. All of the tracks worked, even "The Browning of the Green" (not a favorite of mine), as the band brought such passion and conviction to them that made me realize that this is a ROCK record. Perhaps not progressive rock, but the songs contain a certain energy that previous Ian Anderson solo material did not and this band nails it. It was so great that I was actually disappointed when "Bouree" started; yes, you read that correctly!

However, the "Bouree" that was delivered was a new arrangement which meant for some fun surprises. The real highlight was a near complete performance of the first side of Thick as a Brick. The band, once again, played it with such power and passion that I was actually emotionally moved by the piece. Perhaps its the nostalgia value, but the Thick as a Brick section was simply amazing. I can count on one hand the amount of near-religious experiences I've had (all of them musical) and this was one of them. I can't rave about this enough! Speechless.

The second set was somewhat disappointing after the nearly flawless and inspired first set. I have to admit that the weakened vocals on the classic Tull set diminished the performance for me (which was otherwise strong). "Songs from the Wood" was particularly a problem; maybe it's the mix but the vocal harmonies just didn't work for me in this track. Even the "Critique Oblique" section (culled from your humble narrator's all-time favorite record, A Passion Play) left much to be desired in the vocal department - I personally think that trained singer Ryan O'Donnell should pick up the vocals more often as the performance, as a whole, was best when Ryan was singing and Ian was playing flute, I hate to say.

The evening picked up again, oddly enough, with "Farm on the Freeway", which was a surprisingly inspired performance with some great work from guitarist Florian Ophale. I'm a Martin-ite, but I give credit where it's due! The predictable "Aqualung" / "Locomotive Breath" ending was also great. Although I'm generally burnt-out on all things Aqualung, I enjoyed these two tracks (and their improvised solos) a lot more than anticipated. Plus, it's hard to not feel moved by 1,369 pairs of feet (the show was sold out) stamping in unison to that classic bass line.

Overall, great show. I'd strongly advise you to go check this out, as the good parts far outweigh the bad parts! The amazing first half makes up for the less than stellar second half and I'm sure even the most cynical of Tull fans will find something enjoyable here.

Setlist:

Set 1 -
Doggerland
Enter the Uninvited
Puer Ferox Adventus
The Engineer
Tripudium Ad Bellum
The Browning of the Green
Cold Dead Reckoning
Bourée
Thick as a Brick

Set 2 -
Living in the Past
With You There to Help Me
Sweet Dream
Teacher
Critique Oblique
Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die
Songs from the Wood
Farm on the Freeway
Aqualung

Encore:
Locomotive Breath