In A hall full of men who may or may not have known how to turn off their mobile phones, 64-year-old Ian Anderson Skyped a violinist at home with her baby son direct into his latest musical entertainment.
And I do mean “latest”. Most prog-rock legends are content to play the old stuff forever – Dark Side of the Moon 2 doesn’t exist and neither does Close to the Edge 2. But there is a Thick as a Brick 2 and this was its world premiere.
A suite of songs, just like the 40-year-old original which was played first, and what a thrill to hear two concept albums in full. Flute-organ duels, drum solos, glorious codswallop.
No other Jethro Tull stalwarts were on display but a young five-piece band proved able deputies, among them Ryan O’Donnell, a graduate of the floppy-fringed acting academy, who in harlequin breeks served as Anderson’s junior prog court minstrel, strolling and narrating and helping out on vocals when the boss was trilling up something baroque.
As bawdy and bonkers as ever, Anderson may be forging ahead with the new technologies, but TAAB2 was much concerned with the past – old schooldays, Tompkins Minor, Fray Bentos pies – as he reflected on how his young hero, Gerard Bostock, had ended up a banker.
He was also concerned about the well-being of his audience: “You sir, 52 you say, have you had your prostate checked?” He’d contemplated showing us the video of his own colonoscopy. Maybe next time.