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NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS
29 July 1972
VELLY HOT ROCK
Jethro Tull's arrival in Tokyo was marked by an entertaining Press reception in the Red Pearl Room of the Tokyo Hotel and an even better performance a day later at the Koseinemkin Hall, where the band played to an enthusiastic capacity house.
Tull's reception was in a large conference room, dotted with tables behind which sat the inscrutable Japanese Press, and a long table behind which sat the inestimable band, sheltered beneath pith helmets, yachting caps and straw head gear. It was an amusing affair.
Although manager Terry Ellis seemed disconcerted at the presence of such unexpected faces as that of NME photographer Bob Ellis, Ian Anderson was handling things with his usual aplomb and good humour.
The questions from the floor were pleasant, polite and predictable, answered with good humour. Someone wanted to know what Ian thought of Japanese audiences.
"You sir, have won a prize," cried Anderson, leaping to his feet and awarding the bewildered gent his lighter.
"It has always bewildered me as to why any nation should concern itself as to what another thought of them!"
His next victim was a young man enquiring about his peculiarity of playing on one leg. This was answered graphically.
"Rude — it's rude," shouted Anderson in mock indignation. "When I was very young," he elaborated, "I was often left at home on my own with a little puppy dog who also used to play the flute. I just copied him."
He suited action to these words by cocking a leg against a convenient wall to illustrate the point. The audience seemed to enjoy the joke.
A question regarding musical categorisation was dealt with more succinctly.
"It is not for me to categorise my music," said Ian. "That is a function of the Press, and you must judge for yourselves."
Next a question regarding Mr. Anderson's suggestive hand movements.
"Bloody weird isn't it," suggested Mr. A. through his interpreter. "The truth is that it is a decadent way of conducting the group. No, the truth is that I have these injections in my hand (he waves the offending article). No the truth is — if she enjoyed it so did I."
Will the gentleman bearing a passing resemblance to Cat Stevens stand up? He certainly will, and asks: "What stories were you interested in and influenced by as a child? I understand from your lyrics that you were much under the inspiration of the fairy stories, and how much were you taking ...
"The answer's twice a day," says Ian emphatically.
At this point in the proceedings he suddenly notices a cement face ornamented by moustache — which is me.
"It's Keith Thingy," he suggests to Martin Barre. "From Thingy."
Meanwhile, back at the question?
"The truth is that I was never exposed to fairy stories," says Anderson. "The first thing my parents gave me to read was Mickey Spillane."
And why, we ask ourselves, did the album Living In The Past, contain so many old singles which they had previously told us would not be issued.
"Because of the rest of the world," said Ian. "They were some old songs which many countries outside the U.K. had not heard, and some of them were not bad."
There followed an amazing diatribe about 'Gerald', star of Thick As A Brick.
At this point came a ceremonial presentation of a bamboo pipe ("the type I cannot play") and the man himself falls into various poses, blowing and grinning.
Ian expressed the opinion that he is happy to be in a land where everybody is so polite, because everybody in England is dirty and hairy.
Jethro Tull, with Ian Anderson in his world famous role as the Catweazle of rock and roll, slammed out musical fun and games to a capacity crowd at the Tokyo date of their Japanese tour.
The band opened with a lengthy selection from Thick As A Brick, designed to have you "shifting about restlessly from buttock to buttock." I had not heard the band for over a year, and having not been put in very favourable frame of mind prior to the performance (more amazing revelations on that later), was prepared to be ultra-critical of the new act. But to Tull's great credit they completely won me over.
After the first few minute of Brick there came an amplified phone call, which Ian took on top of the piano. He announced it was for a "Mr. Mike Nelson" and that "there appears to be a Dover sole on the line".
Enter stage right a gent clad from mask to flipper in frogman's gear, with an oxygen cylinder strapped to his back and dripping wet, to answer the phone.
Anderson, back at the music, is flinging himself about in gay abandon. Faultlessly in time with the music he gyrates, simulates innumerable phallic poses with his flute, spits, leers and generally makes himself a figure of obnoxious attraction.
He also has the ability to turn it off just at the right moment and get into the music — his flute work is considerably improved and the band are much tighter all round. Guitarist Martin Barre plays some extremely listenable 'sneakies' in the middle of a jam, and should get more credit than he does for his solo work, which, if not inspired, certainly veers to the exceptional rather than the average.
Organist Jon Evan tends to become over-concerned with extracting sounds from his machine rather than blending in with the general funk, but fits, perfectly when he transfers to piano.
During the selection from Aqualung — more rock-filth folks — two female fans' voices were suddenly heard upon the air discussing the relative merits of the group's work and apparently being picked up by the amplifiers. The action was alt heavily camped up by the group, who looked around in apparent bewilderment. I'm not sure that the audience understood the humour of this, but they certainly understood lull's master stroke of providing Japanese sub-titles to Ian's farmyard impressions. Somehow his cows all came out sounding like birds, and his giraffe's "necking" as motor horns. Good for anyone with a sense of the ridiculous.
Barriemore Barlow's drum solo proved he is a force to be reckoned with, although somehow I felt he should have climaxed the piece before he went into his comedy routine with the cymbal which he punctuated by saying "good evening" in Japanese at every opportunity.
John Evan contributed his own weird touch with a piano solo which stated off sounding like 'The Moonlight Sonata' and ended up in a frantic jam which brought the house down.
To sum up, Tull are brilliant entertainers who with a little more tightening up have the most amusing act on the scene and some intriguing music to boot.
Ian Anderson is extraordinary. The band are now something not to be missed.
One sour note was brought about by a confrontation with manager Terry Ellis, who refused to allow me to talk to Ian, who had previously seemed most amenable to the idea.
Ellis thinks the band are misrepresented by the Press. He also claimed that they were embarrassed to find themselves in the middle of the ELP visit to Japan.
There are to be no interviews with Tull for the U.K. at present.
Mr. Ellis also made it quite clear that he objected to the presence of Mr. R. Ellis at the Hilton reception, where NME's photographer was merely kneeling among the other invited Press representitives.
Stange — very strange. —
Pictures and reports: ROBERT ELLIS and KEITH ALTHAM
Thanks to Harry Auras for this article.