Powerful and enthralling purveyors of progressive rock

Ian Anderson plays to an enthusiastic Regent Theatre crowd in Dunedin last night. Photos by Peter McIntosh.
Ian Anderson plays to an enthusiastic Regent Theatre crowd in Dunedin last night. Photos by Peter McIntosh.

Ian Anderson and his band of merry musicians thrilled a packed house at the Regent Theatre with a good coverage of their music from 1968-2004, starting with Nothing is Easy and finishing with Aqualung and Locomotive Breath.

The latter numbers brought the house to their feet. But overall it was their musical virtuosity, the tight integrity of their ensemble work and their astounding energy which quite rightly singles them out from many other groups emanating from the musical explorations of acoustic and electric folk through to the concept albums of the mid to late 20th century.

Their sound remains distinctive, though its power is not always consistent.

Some of the protest songs, such as Frankenfield, Songs of the Woods, Jack in the Green, Bankers Bet, Bankers Win, relied on a dated and cringingly purist view of rural purity versus urban vulgarity.

Bach's Toccata for Organ played with stunning virtuosity by lead guitarist Florian Opalye sounded merely like confused noise. Anderson's own jazzed-up version of Bach's Bourree was sheer brilliance while his King Henry's Pastime in Good Company was almost boring.

Both editions of Thick as a Brick remain enthralling examples of progressive rock and grow better with age, even though what the message was always somewhat obtuse.

Aqualung and] Locomotive Breath showcase the band at its most powerful and its most musical.

Pianist John O'Hara, bassist David Goodier, Drummer Scott Hammond, and guitarist Opalye are excellent in their own right, but Ian Anderson plays the flute like no other person alive.

He extends his instrument's accepted range with extraordinarily exciting burring and voice-overs.

His sense of rhythm and iconic one-legged, pan-like stance are scintillating

-By Marian Poole


Good show, but with one major but. Ian's voice isn't what it was and unfortunately by some significant margin hence the set heavy on instrumental focus and the use of support singers on the video screen for a couple of songs. There was one regrettable omission from the set-list for me and it was one where at '69 and three bloody quarters' he could have made a statement, namely 'Too old to Rock and Roll'. Listening to that on the drive home I realised how vocally dependant the song is which is possibly why it wasn't played and a possible sign that despite what the lyrics suggest maybe if you are too young to die you might actually be too old to rock and roll.

PS. the opening track was Living in the Past

The music covered went all the way to 2012 as per introduction to the 'banker' song. And yes, parts of it I found boring too...or are concerts just too long for me now?

I may suffer from the same problem. I enjoyed this show and the recent show by Lloyd Cole (which like Midge Ure most people missed) but thought both could have had a few songs dropped out of the middle.

Agree entirely with Jason. Ian Anderson simply cannot sing any more. I feel somewhat ripped off that he is charging $150+ per ticket and can't hack it any more.

The young guitarist was out of place too, Jethro Tull doesn't need Eddie Van Halen-style shredding...