Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Martin Barre -- Ram's Head On Stage - Apr 11 2016

Martin Barre - When a band gets me to travel out of town (Annapolis) just four months after I last saw them and if you know my intense dislike of travel, then you can easily conclude I am a big fan. That said, I was interested in what this new tour had to offer as Martin Barre and his band are delving deeper into the US at the start of this more intensive tour. The previous Jammin Java show was surprisingly excellent, exceeding my moderately high expectations. I also really enjoyed interviewing Martin Barre six weeks back as he was easy and fun to talk with and had several insights into the music business and furthered my Jethro Tull knowledge base.

Tonight it is the same great band as it has been for over a year now. George Lindsay anchors it all on drums and you may not notice him with all the talent downstage, but when I listen carefully I noticed he has just enough artistry to add some subtle touches which add to the song's complexity without getting in the way of the main thrust. Alan Thomson plays bass, some slide guitar and mandolin and is a brilliant progressive player with a quiet fluid style that has worked in the past with such diverse artists as Rick Wakeman and Bo Diddley. So it is easy to see why it works here so well. Dan Crisp provides the vocals and very effective second guitar where he can solo and work around Martin Barre's moves to add an extra layer of excitement to the song.
Of course, the large crowd tonight is excited to see Martin Barre and were not disappointed. Not only was Martin in top form with his playing and creative reworking of Jethro Tull songs, but his energy levels were way up there and between the crowd and the band, this Monday night show was even hotter than the previous show I attended. And it is all the more impressive at a seated club like this one. There were more originals worked into the set and they were accepted well, as the bluesy rock base of each one had plenty of fire within. Of course, the Jethro Tull catalog was explored with fairly faithful renditions (albeit still reworked for two guitars) to songs like a mandolin jig that becomes 'Hymn 43' or the originally mandolin based 'Fat Man' which now becomes guitar based. Even the encore 'Locomotive Breath' which although not one of my personal favorites (especially without the great piano intro), becomes a fresh invigorating version with guitar moves that snake around with dramatic flair until a new beast is formed.

This was a blast for me and you could feel the excitement level rise throughout the night, so this is not a band to be missed if they head to your town or when they return to our area.

Quick plug of the Night: I may not like to travel, but am happy to have attended the Utrecht Record Fair in the Netherlands on three separate occasions (it is a multi-day effort). The 45th fair is this weekend, so if you are anywhere, check it out. It is in a event to behold.

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