(photo credit: Courtesy)
If you stay around long enough, you come back into fashion.
may be the standard working model for most Israeli politicians, it’s also not a
bad career path for rock stars. Just ask Ian Anderson, the animated front man
for venerable British progressive band Jethro Tull.
After a late 1960s to
mid 1970s sterling decade of expansive, challenging albums focusing on
Anderson’s intricate melodies, clever lyrics and stupendous flute playing, the
band was swept under in the late 1970s punk explosion that deemed any music
incorporating suites, long solos and flutes as utterly irrelevant, pompous and
By 1989, Tull had become somewhat of a punch line in the rock
world when the decidedly non-hard rock band was nominated for – and beat out
Metallica – in the Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental
category by the hapless Grammys. Even the band laughed at the inappropriateness
of the award, taking out an advertisement in the music trade magazines with a
picture of a flute lying amid a pile of iron rebars and the line, “The flute is
a heavy, metal instrument!” However, somewhere along the way between topping the
pops with ‘70s albums like Aqualung
and Thick as a Brick
and barely denting the
charts in their nearly anonymous last two decades, something became clear even,
though the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has continued to ignore them – a Jethro
Tull live show is no joke.
40 years after their heyday, the quintet led
by Anderson and guitarist Martin Barre, could still bring it on, with the same
drilled cohesiveness, showmanship and flair that Tull built its name
And nowhere has that been more evident than in Israel, which the band
has visited five times, most recently in the summer of 2007.
they’ll be taking on three shows, at the Shoni Amphitheater in Binyamina on
August 6, the Caesaerea Amphitheater on August 7, and at the Train Station in
Talpiot, Jerusalem on August 9.
Between Anderson’s still-manic,
flute-on-a-perch trademark playing, off-color quips and general star quality,
and the grandfatherly Barre’s electrifying guitar solos, a Tull show is a lesson
for all aspiring musicians in both professionalism and inspiration.
lest one worry that the band would fall privy to the boycott fever that has
dotted the summer’s other international shows, Anderson must have felt enough
pressure to write a letter on Tull’s official Web site explaining his decision
to perform in Israel.
“To those who tell me I should ‘boycott’ Israel
(or, for that matter, Turkey or Lebanon), I can only point out that on my
travels around the world I am continually reminded of atrocities carried out
historically by many nations who are now our friends, and it serves to
strengthen my resolve that some degree of peace and better understanding may
result from my and other artists’ professional and humble efforts in such
“If I had the opportunity to perform today in Iran or North
Korea, hell – I’d be there if I thought it would make a tiny positive net
contribution to better relations.”
He added that, like Leonard Cohen’s
initiative when he performed here in 2009, the Tull shows in Israel “would be
for the benefit of charitable donations to bodies representing the development
of peaceful co-existence between Arabs, Jews and Christians, and the fostering
of better Palestinian/Israeli relations.”
So, if that’s not enough reason
to get out to one of the three venues next week to see Jethro Tull, then
consider this – it’s a chance to witness one of the one-time great acts of rock
& roll, against all likelihood, still being great.