Ian Anderson: Live in Las Vegas!

Ian Anderson
Pearl Concert Theater - Palms Casino Resort
Las Vegas
, Nevada
September 19, 2014

By Roy Rahl
Photos by Edison Graff 

Set List:
Doggerland | Enter The Uninvited | Puer Ferox Adventus | The Engineer | Tripudium Ad Bellum | Heavy Metals | The Browning of the Green | Cold Dead Reckoning | Bourée | Thick As A Brick

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

Locomotive Breath

Man, does Ian Anderson have any other mode than high energy at full speed? If his performance at Pearl Concert Theater is any indication, the answer is no. For nearly three hours, with one small intermission, the man was a nonstop whirl of motion and the consummate performer! He’s a good fifteen years older than me but by the end of the concert I was exhausted just watching him! I was also thoroughly content. It was a yet another great performance by the rock legend.

The concert was billed as “The Best of Jethro Tull performed by Ian Anderson”. It’s a slightly misleading billing as the best of Tull would take about six hours to perform, but Anderson and company did their best to hit all the high points. The band opened performing several tracks off Anderson's recent release Homo Erraticus (which if you don’t have it already you should get it right way. It’s fantastic! See our review http://www.classicrockrevisited.com/show_review.php?id=1279). After that it was a travel through Tull history as they played favorite after favorite. It made for a wonderful rock ‘n’ roll experience.

It needs to be said that in the fight between time and human ability, time is undefeated. Anderson’s voice is not as strong as it was in his youth; nor is his vocal range as wide. But only a jerk would hold that against him. Additionally, the band can only tune down so far to help the vocals before it starts sounding more like an opera than the original tune. Rather than fight the losing battle Anderson enlists vocal support in the form of Ryan O’Donnell. For many of the pieces O’Donnell shares the lead vocal role, typically singing the higher pitched parts to take some of the pressure off Anderson. It can take a bit of getting used to, but it’s the right move. I would rather hear the song performed up to the high Tull standards with vocal support than listen to a rock icon struggle to hit notes he just can’t hit anymore. It’s a credit to Anderson’s desire to give the audience a quality performance by letting the young guy do some of the heavy lifting.

Anderson’s stage presence is amazing. It is obvious he continues to be very passionate about his work and refuses to just go through the motions. His musicianship on flute and string instruments remains flawless. It’s such a joy to hear him play; and I still wonder how he keeps his balance playing flute while standing on one leg!

Adding to Anderson’s presence are some wonderful videos being played on a screen behind the band. These are not just the typical stream of conscience scenes of odd disconnected imagery and bizarre photos. The videography interacts with the live musicians and is always directly related to what is being played. At times while the band is performing a piece such as “Living In The Past” there will be a video on the screen showing Anderson performing that same piece, way back in the day, in sync with the live performance. It was very engaging! At other times there would be direct interaction between the people in the video and the band members onstage, as well as a really humorous “phone” moment I will leave for you to discover on your own. It was nice to see that a powerful stage presence can be generated with some intelligent planning and creativity without having to rely upon extensive lighting effects and expensive visual fluff.

If you have a chance to go to this concert you should book your tickets now. The band is amazing (as usual) and Anderson knows how to keep his audience mesmerized. The US leg of the tour extends through November and afterwards moves on to Europe. If you’re a Tull fan this is not a show to be missed. The mix of the new material and the classic stuff shows just how far Anderson and Tull have come, and how much further they can take us. One look at the set list shows you just how much fun this concert is!