I'm not actually sure how many Tull shows I've been too since then. I didn't keep count, and it's not like you can figure it by albums, because Tull are one of the great compulsive road bands of all time. (And Anderson himself seems to tour ceaselessly, even when the rest of the band is out on a beach with their feet up.) I've seen Ian hobbling around in a knee brace wincing in pain, Ian with his voice so trashed the show was basically instrumental, Ian and Martin from the third row of a standing venue show in Las Vegas. But I've been to enough that the little rituals that get repeated every time are like familiar jokes among college friends, and it becomes an exercise in comparison. So what are they going to change up this time?
Also, in talking about a band with 42 years of albums, other than a few warhorse tunes, the set list is never predictable. Except in one thing.
"Locomotive Breath"--each time more complicated, operatic, and apocalyptic than the last--is the encore. With its plinky jazzy "piano" intro and one of the most distinctive bass lines in rock and roll, you kind of come to count on it. It's not so much a tradition as a sacred ritual.
So this is what I did last night, while it was pissing down rain. Well, not this exactly. This was the other month. And we were in a bigger venue, with flashier lighting.
But fairly close.
Not bad for a bunch of old guys in orthopedic shoes, huh?
And now, back to the deathmarch.