Five decades and no signs whatsoever of losing speed, Jethro Tull’s spirited performance at the 2003 Montreux Jazz Festival offers additional credence to its mark of distinction as a pioneering progressive-rock outfit. Emanating in the late ‘60s, Tull set a paradigm for hard rock by morphing British folk, jazz and knotty time signatures with whimsical and memorably melodic song forms. Front-man and flautist/vocalist Ian Anderson may have gained a few years, but still conveys the wit, and vigor noted throughout the band’s existence. Sure enough, the gifted artiste is still the minstrel onstage as he pursues an affable bond with the zealous audience throughout this energized set.
They open the set with a blues-rocker "Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You," which is culled from their inaugural 1968 album, This Was. The band also performs choice works such as the jazzy, flute-driven "Bouree," and the lovely ballad "Life Is A Long Song." Here and throughout, the camera crew parlays a sense of motion via pans, zooms and group-based footage.
Anderson’s jovial stage presence is perhaps a caricature of his ‘70s and ‘80s persona as he contorts himself into a figure of vast expressionism while gracefully moving about the stage to parallel his vibrant flute choruses. And then there’s Martin Barre who demonstrates why he looms as one of rock’s most versatile guitarists as he dishes out soaring fuzz-toned lines but occasionally tempers the flows with jazzy chord phrasings evidenced on his solo spot titled "Empty Café."
One of the numerous highlights resides within the band’s performance of Ian Anderson’s composition "Eurology," featuring keyboardist Andrew Giddings use of a piano-accordion. And the artists dig into the well as they satisfy the audience with powerful renditions of "Aqualung," and "Locomotive Breath." Yet for those who prefer the audio version, Eagle Eye Media has released the companion 2-CD set. Ultimately, the musicians act as prophets of good cheer during the preponderance of this fantastic presentation.