And it finally happened! I was finally able to see Jethro Tull performed live less than ten feet from me! Front row for Jethro Tull concert in Bangalore: couldn’t have asked for more…
I reached Palace grounds at around 6:15 in the evening with the show slated to begin at 7:30. After making a dash to the entry gates, Logik and I realized that it was not too late at all and so we found ourselves-for all practical purposes-standing in the front row. Soon the whole place was packed and I guess the attendance to the Bangalore Jethro Tull concert must have touched the 10k mark. The first thing that I noticed was the crowd and more importantly, the people covering a diverse age group. There were 5 year old kids and 75+ year old men. And this was perhaps the primary reason for a subdued energy level in the crowd compared to all the previous concerts that have taken place in Bangalore. So while I was really pumped up to scream my lungs out, I felt my enthusiasm would not really be shared by all those around me. But nevertheless, the show started and for the first time in the history of Event Management in Bangalore, the show started 20 minutes ahead of time!!!! Thats right! IaN Anderson himself came out at 7:10 to introduce Anoushka Shankar and her troupe of musicians who would perform the first act. And as soon as Anoushka Shankar started playing her sitar, I was mind-blown!
Firstly, how can one make sitar playing look so damn easy? And secondly, did you get a look at her fingers? I did, and they were pretty damn long-esp the pinky! And so the nimble-fingered Anoushka went on to play Raag Jog and followed it with Raag Panchamsigara-composed by her father- and both were filled with exquisite blends of melody and skill. It was indeed a real treat to watch her play!
And then came the time everyone were waiting for. Tull finally took stage, with Ian Anderson opening the set with My Sunday Feeling. And as he began singing, I then realized why some people had been telling me that his voice is well past his prime. But in spite of that constraint, his singing was in perfect harmony and in tune. Immediately after that, David’s bass piece sounded the intro to Living in The Past. One of the real rock songs that I have ever heard being played right in front of me by the men themselves. It was a moment to remember.
“We’ll keep on living in the past…”
The band then went on to play Serenade to a Cuckoo- an instrumental originally written by Rahsaan Roland Kirk- and played it to perfection. I have to say, in spite of his voice being past his prime, Ian Anderson played his flute and guitar to perfection- each and every note! NURSIE was the next song and this originally short song was extended thanks to Martin Barre’s extended lead. Soon after, he announced Mick Jagger-Sir Mick Jagger-one of the greatest rock musicians turned 65 recently and screamed into Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll! The entire crowd sang along for this one and I was simply just happy to be there watching Tull play.
A New Day Yesterday was next up and I was praying they would play Sossity You’re a Woman, Budapest or Heavy Horses. And I didn’t have to wait for long for them to churn out Thick as a Brick and again, as the whole crowd seemed to sing along, I was again just happy to shut up and listen to Anderson. I didn’t really know that the flute sound that appears in the intro is actually from the keyboard until I saw them do so. Soon after that, Anderson amused the crowd with his knowledge about Global Warming and Carbon Footprints and how we needed to get back to using the HEAVY HORSES! This was one song I was really hoping to hear them play and they belted out the entire number- all of the long song with everything falling into place perfectly! That one song really made my evening worth it.
And then, without a break, Martin Barre sounded the intro to Aqualung! It was at this exact point that the entire crowd-except the ones that were seated- went hysterical! And I for one, screamed my lungs out! The acoustic piece in the middle and then the build up to the lead was perhaps the 2 most blissful minutes of my past few weeks! Even though the lead wasn’t exactly the same as the original, it was still Martin Barre playing that and it turned out great! The song was played with a noticable reduction in the tempo as compared to the original. I guess that only extended my bliss time. And when the song finally ended, I realized that I had indeed found some purpose in life-really!
There was a ten minute break and then Anoushka Shankar joined Tull to play out some fusion stuff which I have to say, given the limited amount of time to rehearse, came out extra-ordinarily well synchronized and co-ordinated. They started off with what Ian chose to call TEA WITH ANOUSHKA and then went on to play CELTIC CRADLE- a fusion between the aboriginal Celtic music, complete with the Harmonica and Indian music with the entire Troupe performing. The Indian flautist, Ravi Chandra Kullur showcased his prowess on the flutes on LITTLE GLASS FOLK which drew a real wild cheer from the crowd on more than one occassion! Tull then went on to play MOTHER GOOSE to wind up that set.
But no script or speculation could have prepared me or anyone for what was witnessed over the span of the next two songs! Ok everyone knew Anderson had not played Bouree and Locomotive Breath. And so it was no surprise when he mentioned the name of Sebastian Bach and everyone understood what was coming next. But what no one understood or even thought of was Anoushka’s contribution to Bouree. And that was what made this concert so damn unique!
Anderson’s Bouree could have soothed a raging elephant and when Anoushka started to accompany Anderson on Bouree, I was a little apprehensive. But it took all of 3 seconds to change my mind as Anoushka’s sitar part of Bouree proved to be a mind blowing experience! And as Logik put it, “It was the best Bouree I have heard! BTW, there are over 70 of them!” And so was the case when John came up with the keyboards for Locomotive Breath because Anoushka accompanied the band even on that song! The chord progression of the song- Em-G-D-Em/A- was played on the sitar (Dont ask me how) and it sounded as if it was supposed to have been there all this time. It was really a dream come true to have been there right at the front with Tull playing all those classics but as the show wound up, I promised myself to go to at least another Tull concert where he would play all the songs that he missed out this time around!
Now apart from the actual concert, there were a few things that I came about that I found worth mentioning. Firstly, the whole event was sponsored by 100 Pipers. And they didn’t have a single stall selling alcohol! WTF??? I was so very looking forward to drinking 100 Pipers and now I strongly believe that the Samosawala made more money than SEAGRAM’S.
Secondly, I came across some real disgusting scenes that took place right in front of me. Those of you who were right at the front of the 1100 section crowd and standing near the left edge of the barricades will perhaps recollect thsi as well. During the second half of the concert, when Anoushka and Tull were jamming together, 2 girls came from nowhere and suddenly stood in front of me. I was like WTF?? These chics were dressed up with a lot to hope for. And they began to pass comments that included: “Oooooooooooooh!” “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” “Cho Chweeeeeeeeet!”. One of them-the real ugly looking one- suddenly decided not to give me the satisfaction of having attended a smoke-free concert by chain smoking her way through the concert. And not just that, the physical proximity between the two of them, or the lack of it, suddenly started planting some scary questions in my head! But it just didn’t stop at that! My questions were quickly answered and my worst fears came true right in front of me! I actually saw them friggin’ making out right in front me!!!
( PUKE BREAK)
There were these real old people less than 2 feet from them but that didn’t deter their session! Aaaah! But then, me being me, I tried to find an explanation about their present behaviour. After much analysis, I arrived at two possibilities:
1. They were both stoned or
2. They were the 2 biggest phonies I have ever come across in my life!
Oh wait! I just came up with a third possibility: They were the 2 biggest phonies I have ever met AND they were stoned!!! Yeah that makes a lot of sense! But watching them do stuff got me grossed out pretty bad! I think I will stick to my RUSSIAN INSTITUTE Series (LOGIK are you listening???)
And apart from this, I also happened to be scouting the papers and the web for concert reviews and I found only one. Now I have to say, I am really known to make the journalist’s life miserable for writing a fake review (like the Scorpions Concert) or making big time blunders in their reviews(like the Strawberry Fields thing). But alas, I could find only 1 review on the web and in that too I found just 1 blunder. I can only say that the Hindu review on the concert was really well written except for this one small piece of blunder when the writer mistook NURSIE for MERCY! It is a small thing if you are just a writer but a real blunder if you claim yourself to be a writer and a Tull fan! But I guess I will let this mistake pass this time around.
Also I didn’t get hold of any photos from the concert. So if any of you happen to have any, please do let me know where I can find them.