Whatever happened to Gerald Bostock? That question was answered loud and clear at the Smith Center in Las Vegas with Ian Anderson’s performance of "Thick As A Brick." Anderson, the legendary front man of Jethro Tull, has written a sequel to the classic 1972 concept album. In this sequel, we learn of the many possible outcomes of one Gerald Bostock, the fictional eight-year-old boy who wrote a controversial poem covering many topics such as politics and religion.
The original album is being performed in its entirety on this tour for the first time in over 40 years. The well-written sequel follows a brief intermission. For diehard Tull fans like myself, the night was a state of bliss.
Joining Anderson and his band onstage is a talented vocalist, Ryan O’Donnell, who for my money was a dead ringer for Anderson in his younger days. Throughout the show, O’Donnell is portraying the role of Bostock, weaving his way in and out of the action as needed.
Light theatrics and a video screen projecting certain images that fit the themes of both albums round out the performance. No, it isn’t quite Roger Waters’ "The Wall" show in that regard. However, it is an entertaining way of assisting in telling the tale of Bostock, from eight-year-old genius poet to still enigmatic middle-aged man.
Musically and theatrically, Anderson has lost absolutely nothing, with his flute and guitar playing still top rate. Many 66-year-olds wish for even half of the energy that Anderson still has onstage, as he was very mobile, offering his signature one-legged pose several times. The band consists of members of Jethro Tull, including David Goodier on bass, John O’Hara on keyboards, Florian Ophale on guitar and Scott Hammond on drums. The unit flawlessly performed the challenging original concept album as well as the entertaining sequel.
There are plenty of nostalgic rock and roll acts out there playing their hits, offering nothing new to the music world. Such is not the case with Ian Anderson. With "Thick As A Brick 2," Anderson has created his best music in a very long time. The themes reach back to the 1972 original and are just familiar enough to keep the causal Tull fan interested.
For the hardcore fans, there are several gems with the new album, including "Banker Bets, Banker Wins" and "Give Till It Hurts." The full house at The Smith Center was appreciative of both albums that was evident by an enthusiastic standing ovation at the end of the show.
For the encore, the band played the Tull signature song "Locomotive Breath." While not my favorite song, I cannot deny that it’s probably Tull’s most recognizable, making it understandable why they performed it last. Ultimately, it was an exclamation point to an outstanding show.
Many music aficionados would suggest that it’s too risky to create a sequel for a classic album (just ask Paul Kantner of Jefferson Starship, who wrote the ill-fated "Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra" in 1983 as a sequel to the critically acclaimed "Blows Against The Empire" from 1970).
It is obvious that Ian Anderson has a lot more to say, and with "Thick As A Brick 2," I am certainly thankful. Tull fans will not be disappointed with this tour.
Ian Anderson performed at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, 901 Symphony Park Avenue, Las Vegas, Nevada. For more information on upcoming shows, call 702-749-2000 or visit www.thesmithcenter.com. For Ian Anderson tour dates, visit www.jethrotull.com.