Martin Barre and Band @ Rockhall Music Hall, 12/19/2015

Photo credit: Anna Rodriguez

Photo credit: Anna Rodriguez

Catching ex-Jethro Tull guitarist (and one of my favorite guitarist at that) Martin Barre in the comfortable confines of a bar in the East Village was something I never thought I’d see happen. Having only ever seen Barre with Tull, on big concert stages over the decades, enjoying the musicianship of a member of rock royalty up close, fronting his own four piece band and seemingly having the time of his life, was a rare treat my cynical mind is still reeling over.

Supporting his latest CD Back To Steel, Mr. Barre with singer/guitarist Dan Crisp, drummer George Lindsay and Alan Thomson singing backing vocal and playing 5-string bass, jammed a full two hours of killer rock blues for a rabid crowd.

Hitting us with the heavy yet commercial title track from his latest album, Barre ran through lots of blues (interestingly enough, switching from electric guitar to mandolin-an instrument Barre manned often through the many pastoral passages of Tull music-during the most blues tune of the night, “Crossroads”) and lots of Tull. As Mr. Barre told this second-show-of-the-night crowd, he was changing things up from the first set and I watched as he called out tunes to the band and they rolled through “Smoke Stack Lightening” and his sly cover of “Eleanor Rigby” as well as Tull classics like a very heavy “Sweet Dreams,” his special send-up of “Skating Away (On The Thin Ice Of A New Day”), “Minstrel In The Gallery” early on, and my personal favorite of the night, Barre’s 8-minute read of the middle of the Tull “concept” piece “Thick As A Brick.” Without Ian Anderson’s leading flute through this stuff I really came to appreciate Barre’s guitar parts in these classic tunes…as well as delighting in him taking on those lead flute parts.

Mr. Barre said he’ll be returning to New York next year, in fact a whole tour is being planned presently. When he does get back here you need to see Martin Barre!

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