Looking at JT music tonight on YouTube, I stumbled upon this interesting bit.
It’s a group of young music school hipster-nerds from the Berklee College of Music in Boston promising a live performance of the LP length, continuously played, musical suite Thick as a Brick. A very technical, difficult and complex piece of music. I winced when I considered the greatness of the piece against the look of the kids poised to perform it. I SOOO do not like average people doing covers of bands I really love. It often turns out just embarrassing. I was prepared to either laugh or cry at this performance … and not in a good way.
But as the first few notes rise from Ian Anderson’s opening acoustic part – by a dude in a cheap Halloween hotdog outfit no less – it was mirrored perfect. Perfect! Flat out stunning. Even Ian himself would be impressed and I’m sure he’s seen it.
So I kept listening for the next 43:20 minutes and every note of it is extraordinary. Enchanting. Really no words for it. These kids are the just stinkin’ impressive, little nerds that they are. And it is not a “good enough for students” offering they bring.
Much of it sounds as if they are playing to a sound track, it’s so spot on, having the complexity and thickness of the original. But it doesn’t seem that they’re playing to any enhancement. I could be wrong. You can see each player producing what is needed at the moment, although there is one violin section at the end that doesn’t seem true to sound. All the rest is cash money.
The young drummer IS Barrie Barlow! The keyboardist, 98.555% John Evan and the hipster psychedelic electric guitarist is as close to Martin Barre as one can get.
As for Ian?
The young woman playing the flute is pretty dog-gone impressive. She doesn’t have the explosive energy of Ian, but who in the world does? Not even the Sun. She’s got no faults in her contribution though. Just lovely, and it’s fun to see her having so much fun with it.
The vocalist? He doesn’t even try to channel Ian and that is very good. He only tries to serve as a vocalist placeholder. His own interpretation and stage presence is pleasantly adequate, which he does impressively. He gives exactly what he should. The kids are trying to present the complexity and wonder of the music itself, not the band.
I got goose bumps as I listened, the way they absolutely nailed the beauty of many of the very technical transitions. The way they affected some of the beautiful riffs on the album. Even the funky jazz improve section in the middle of the whole bit. And they did it as millennial hipsters. How do they even know about Jethro Tull?
Well they do. And they know Thick as a Brick stunningly well. How they broke the album down to know what instruments, technical effects and timing they needed? That is remarkable in itself. I could imagine them sitting around with the vinyl listening to it over and again, taking notes, debating what was actually what.
Just an absolutely marvelous, deeply impressive and nearly flawless piece of work. You should listen to the whole thing even if you’re not a Tull fan. It’s worth it.
Other Tull fans, I would love to hear your take on it.