~ Tull In Amsterdam ~
A review of the Jethro Tull concert in Amsterdam,
Heineken Music Hall, June 10  2003


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The third stop of the European leg of the tour was Amsterdam this time: the Heineken Music Hall, alas, instead of the cosy Muziekcentrum Vredenburg in Utrecht, where acoustics are fabulous and the atmosphere is more intimate. The Heineken Music Hall was recently built to cater for the need of a big music hall in Amsterdam, especially designed for big rock, pop or other muscial events. A square hall, called the Black Box, with a 3 meter high stage to make any physical contact between performers and audience a hopeless effort, was the exact location where Tull chose to perform....... Over 3500 people attended the gig and it was sold out a few minutes before the show actually started. We were lucky to have seats on row 2, which enabled us to study Martin hard work.

Courtesy: Hay Willemsen.

But let me start were it all begun. A few months ago I mailed every Dutch, Luxemburgeian and Belgian Tull fan I knew to invite them for a "pre-gig beer meet" and talk Tull or anything related. About 30 of them answered that they would be there an hour before the show. Since most of us have only been in contact with eachother through the internet, it was hard to find eachother. The weather was beautiful and we ended up with a group of about 10 friends and had a couple of beers outside the hall on a terrace in the slowly sinking sun. Among them were Jeff and June from Newcastle UK, whom I got acquinted with at the Rubbing Elbows show in Fareham last April .They had a special surprise for me since I got them their tickets: the Ring Out Solstice Bells EP and the Stitch In Time single that I never got my hands on before! My ISP, Abel Wisman, was there, Gerrit de Geus (who ownes the largest Tull paper article collection in the world), Hay Willemsen who offered pics for my site, Peter Hoogmoet and several others. As Jeff said: it was striking that there were so many teachers in this little group of fans. It was a pity though that Laufi couldn't make it, since he is moving house, and that we didn't team up with Luuk, Koen, Alidor, Pieter and Bert. We talked and joked a lot, exchanged boots, Tull trivia and information, shared memories of gigs we attended in the past and had a great time. Lateron Martin Webb and Dave Rees joined. Martin shared his experiences as guest on stage during the Fareham show. And Gerrit was the only lucky bastard to have managed a back-stage pass.....

Courtesy: Hay Willemsen.

In the meantime we watched people from all over the country (and beyond) arriving and queing up for the Heineken Hall. (At least WE had tickets so there was no need to rush, and time enough for another beer.) Among them youngsters wearing Tull shirts, so there is hope for the future ;-) The concert would start at 20.00 hrs, so we finished our beer and entered the hall. It was a surprise to se there was a support act: a young female rock singer from Luxemburg, Masha, who had been performing (and living) for several years in London, L.A. and New York. She sang some powerful songs, with a voice that brought back memories of Pat Benatar to our middle-aged brain. She was assisted by Tull members, one after another. They all joined her on stage, except for Ian who chose to play his flute behind the curtains. The audience bore with here, listened and applauded. She must have had a great time, esp. since it is probably not an easy job to open for a band of this merit..... (More information on her site.

Then the moment came that Tull hit the stage. We were curious, a bit worried perhaps, about what was to follow. Would we get another "best of" set? Would there be any new material from the 3 upcoming albums? Would there be songs played that weren't performed live before? Would Amsterdam have a primeur, like Utrecht two years ago with the "Mayhem Jig"? Would The Voice stand up to this effort? Tension rose, excitement too, there was something in the air, obviously. Smoking, approaching the stage and dancing was forbidden - as was said before the gig started - but that would change - in spite of the fact that the band had been asking for it as we were told. We were all seated and guards in front of the stage were watching us constantly. 

Courtesy: Hay Willemsen.

By  way of intro a taped fluty bit was played - from the DVD - and the guys hit the stage to play "Living in the past" in a slightly new arrangement. The crowd cheered and during a very powerful "Nothing is easy" it became clear that the band was determined to grace us with a great concert, showing eagerness to give it all. "Someday the sun won't shine for you" still is a great song, that pays tribute to Tull's blues roots. The sturdy, hammering mouth harp intro still sends shivers down my spine, even after all these years. A pleasant surprise for the old fans was "With you there to help me". Ian said it was hard to play the intro backwards the way it was recorded back in 1970, so he started playing with his back to the audience. There were some slight audio problems and The Voice was in trouble for a short time, but from then on everything went well. Acoustics turned out to be good to great, but Heineken Hall is certainly beaten by Vredenburg when it comes to acoustic quality.

Fat Man, with Martin on flute Courtesy: Hay Willemsen.

Then came the surprise we had all been craving for: new material! Ian announced the release of the Christmas album that will contain Tull's rendition of "Pavane", a classical piece written by Fauré. A true gem, believe me. Nothing like "Divinities", or "Boris Dancing". It was played very well and I could hear people in the audience humming along, as the melody is so well known from classic radio stations.. The next piece: one of Tull's great acoustic songs: "Beside myself", about an Indian child prostitute, was moving as ever. One of the highlights of each gig is when the guys come in front of the stage and play "Fat Man". So it was this time. Doane climbed down from his drum shop behind a plexiglass screen and hit the bongo's. "Hunting Girl" followed, not sung very well though, but I love to hear it esp. for the percussion. It was like hearing Barry again.... Then Ian announced Martin who offered us a piece from his upcoming solo album "Stage Lef". It was titled, "Counting The Chickens " and paved all room for his soring guitar. I went out for a fag and a beer and when I returned "Dot Com" was played, but it somehow didn't sound right to my ears, and Ian had some voice problems when singing the higher notes.

Another surprise was the next piece. Ian introduced it as being inspired by all this talk in the media about the European Community, the Euro money, Euro mentality etc. and that everybody overhere seems to talk Euro. So he decided to write a instrumental piece titled "Eurology", which he described as "a bit of piss, really". It was a great piece, I think, full of minor notes, which made it sound dramatic and playful at the same time. Once again the title is a typical Ianesque joke (Urology). What followed was a fresh medley of "Songs From TheWood/Too Old To Rock/Heavy Horses, all with vocals (and a bit of lip synch). The audience cheerfully sang along and the band noticed that and enjoyed it. Then came "My God". I have always loved this song for its powerful lyrics and music and its actuality. It stills stands up after 30+ years. The flute solo was stunning and loaded with conviction. With "Budapest" time had come for a fine piece of classical music from the previous century ;-)). The duet between guitar and flute was great and it showed that Hamer guitars and Pearl flutes rule! The arrangement had altered somewhat and there was a new guitar solo at the end. The merry "Mayhem Jig" made the audience clap along and a drunk woman dance, but the guards moved here out before she became too annoying. All the spots and super troopers were lighted when the band started to play "Aqualung".

Party time!  Courtesy: Hay Willemsen.

The crowd now decided that they had been sitting long enough and started to move forward, pushing the guards away ("who the f**k do they think they are?"). Jeff and June came down from the balcony and we found ourselves looking up to the band in front of the stage. It was encore time, so we all shouted and clapped them back on stage. Jeff managed to shake Martin's hand and received his plectrum ("pick") lateron. We shouted "Go for it Martin", which he obviously enjoyed hearing and when "Wind Up" started we all sang and clapped along. Though the sound wasn't all too well the band gave it all and it was party time. Then "Locomotive Breath" followed and Martin squeezed a great intro from his Hamer, assisted by Andy on keyboards. Community singing time again (though I've come to HATE that song), everybody looked glad and happy. Even the guards started to rock along with us. The song evolved into an instrumental snippet of "Protect & Survive" and we die-hards knew that it was balloon-time. When finally the first chords of "Cheerio" filled the hall, I realised that once again we were offered a great concert, with old and new songs, new arrangements and some "peeks in the kitchen" of the upcoming albums. 

Abel, Jan , Jeff and June sharing a beer after the concert. Courtesy: Hay Willemsen.

When the band left the stage the crowd cheered and yelled. I managed to contact Kenny Wylie who handed me the set list and left the hall. After a final beer we checked the merchandise, which was a bit of a bummer: there was no new tour programme and just a low quality white T-shirt with cartoons of the band members, that most people simply didn't want to buy. We left them as they were, said goodbye and went our own way home. Once again we were priviliged be part of a beautiful evening with Jethro Tull........

* Jan Voorbij

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© Jan Voorbij (1998-2009)