Paul Wilson: Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull Performs ‘Thick as a Brick’ @ Kauffman Center

images“Really don’t mind if you sit this one out,” is the opening line of the 1972 Jethro Tull album “Thick as a Brick.”

I could only describe TAAB as a single song opus, inside a rock musical and wrapped up in a concept album. It was one single track, broken only by flipping the album over to play side two.

Sgt. Pepper and Tommy didn’t even try that trick.

Seen by his fans and contemporaries in ’72 as eccentric, Anderson’s remained that way in my mind all these years. And now that he’s returning to this great work to remake it as Thick as a Brick II, it’s a perfect illustration of that.

I graduated from high school in 1972 and the original TAAB came out that summer. I bought the 8 track and proceeded to wear it out in my ’63 Corvette’s “under dash” player, with an aftermarket, spring-driven reverb unit installed right next to it. The album spent 20 weeks on the Billboard Top 40 Album chart and two weeks at No. 1.

The album (or 8 track) came with a “newspaper” called the St Cleve. It was a brilliant self-review of the album, done by Anderson, complete with local news stories and his view of everyday working class England at the time. Complete with obits and stories of the Bostock child, closer to the back, lyrics to the songs. All were fabricated, of course, to fit the album’s story line.

thick_as_a_brickSpin the hands on the clock 40 years, and Anderson’s produced “Thick as a Brick 2,” that carries the story forward from the original album staring eight-year-old Gerald (“Little Milton”) Bostock, Ian’s mythical child character and star of the original album. It also offers various answers to the once burning question, “Whatever happened to Gerald Bostock?”.

“If you look at the big picture of Jethro Tull fans over the years, it would probably impact in a positive way maybe half of them, if they gave it a listen,” says the 65-year-old Anderson, known for his manic one legged pose and flute solos. “Which is probably where ‘Thick as a Brick’ was back in 1972.

“Sometimes it’s nice to sit down to a bit of a banquet and enjoy it. If you want to snack on fast food, you go buy an album that’s got lots of three-minute tracks on it … But this is a project, something you can get your teeth into — and for those of us who have any left, it’s good to do that.”

Anderson isn’t billing this as Jethro Tull, even though a couple of the original members are with him. Why? He wants no expectation that this is going to be a greatest hits concert; it’s TAAB2. The point of the production is to explain a handful of scenarios concerning what became of Bostock, not a replay of the classics “Aqualung,” “Cross-Eyed Mary” and “Locomotive Breath.”

Speaking of graduating in 1972, I’ve stayed in touch with a good friend named John Wayne, who now lives in Reykjavík, Iceland. In talking with him about this last week, he told me he’d gone to see TAAB2 in June at Harpa Hall, a 1600 seat venue, much like the Kauffman Center. John said it was a great show. Anderson was asked just before the concert where the name “Jethro Tull” came from and he attributed it to his agent who thought it was “a cool name for a band”.


The original Jethro Tull

“Jethro Tull,”  in real life, was actually a British agriculturist who invented the seed drill in 1701

This Saturday, your well-coiffed Scribe will be sitting front and center to hear and make decisions between, Gerald the banker, Gerald the homeless man, Gerald the military man, Gerald the preacher and, finally, Gerald the most ordinary man.

I’m sure it’s going to be a great show for those with the acquired taste of Tull.

I count myself among them.

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33 Responses to Paul Wilson: Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull Performs ‘Thick as a Brick’ @ Kauffman Center

  1. Orphan of the Road says:

    Erik Nelson had this advice, if ya gotta play at Garden parties, I wish you a lotta luck. But if memories are all I have, I’d rather drive a truck.

    So tell us about the hunger strike you had in hs. Well, ok, you just skipped lunch to show your concern for Bangladesh.

    That’s your average concert-goer for the Ian Andersons & Todd Rundgrens, expecting a Greatest Hits show.

    Remember to shout, John Barleycorn MUST DIE for me. ‘K?

    • Lydia Anthony says:

      Actually he spelled it “Eric” but great quote and I agree with your sentiment. Saw Anderson two nights ago and he was amazing. Looked for reviews of past shows and it was a bunch of pea brains complaining that he didn’t play “Aqualung”. Oh yeah… they also complained that he had aged. For those types of people I suggest the plug in their headphones and listen to “Living In The Past” by… Jethro Tull.

      • paulwilsonkc says:

        Lydia, my review will be up in a few minutes. I agree with you, I can’t believe how many people left two songs into the second set. It was a phenominal show.

        • Lydia Anthony says:

          Oh that’s great Paul! I’m really looking forward to your review! I was in the front row so did not see people leave. Good thing, I would have been fuming. I am so seriously confused that people:
          1. Expect a performer not to age and not to have their vocal range change. I thought Anderson handled that brilliantly.
          2. Expect something other than what was advertised. TAAB was advertised. TAAB was on my ticket. TAAB was on the program. And people are expecting/wanting “Aqualung”!!! Y’all should have caught that tour 40 years ago, like I did.
          3. Complain about a venue as if it’s the artist’s fault (not that there should be any complaints about the Kauffman).
          I’ve been taking my 15 year old to concerts for years. She’s seen almost 60 of them. Even she has the maturity to realize that performers age. We went to Leon Russell after she saw videos of him in the 1970’s and in 2013. I wanted her (and me) to know what to expect. Amazing that adults can’t manage this. YouTube makes it pretty easy to figure out what you’re buying tickets to. Ps. Leon rocked!!
          >> Rant over…

          • Lydia Anthony says:

            Oh I swear I’ll shut up after this. Forgot the other thing that completely baffles me. An artist has new material and tours with it. People complain because they don’t know the songs. I swear, I’ve heard this one so many times I can’t believe it. One review of an artist even complained that, because the reviewer didn’t know the lyrics, the artist should have projected them on a giant screen. Seriously!? Simple solution. Buy the music. Or just listen to it on YouTube. But don’t blame the artist because you were too busy, lazy or cheap to get their new material.

          • paulwilsonkc says:

            Lydia, I got to meet Leon when I was 17 at Grand Lake in Oklahoma! Long story, I’ll share it w you some time.

  2. the dude says:

    No Aqualung or Locomotive Breath would mean no watchie for me.
    Play them Greatest Hits monkey boy!

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Dude, John said he actually did play them in Iceland, we’ll see about here. He also had to get Icelandic musicians play with him there.

      • Observer says:

        Listening to AL or LB shoehorned into TAAB2 would be a shame. Decant it and let it breath on it’s own. No need to blend those old standby bottles with a resurrected grape. Metaphor aside, I’d much rather hear the non-radio discography of Ian and the boys any day of the week. But, I’m that way about most of the prog acts. Do I have to hear Roundabout if Yes were doing Close to the Edge 2? No way. Mad props to Ian.

  3. PB says:

    Big Tull fan and have seen them as recently as 5 or 6 years ago at The Midland and it was excellent. I like the concept of playing the two Brick albums as sort of a theatre piece (and yes, I believe they still play a couple of hits as an encore), but I’m going to pass on this one though as I’m not sure Ian can even sing anymore.

  4. Hot Carl says:

    I’ve seen JT many times through the years but I’m skipping this one as well. Ticket prices are way out of whack for what’s being delivered.

  5. Cheech lifting weights says:

    “The Kauffman Center for the Unpopular Arts requests that you kindly take no more than two puffs of any craggedy ole joint passed down the aisle and that patrons refrain from playing ‘air flute’ “.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Pretty funny, Cheech man!
      And “Unpopular”? I love the place. I had season tickets on the 4th row center, its just a great venue for all manner of shows.
      In reference to your veiled pot-passin comment, I do recall at Carol Burnett, a pretty tattered bottle of Geritol making its way down the aisle.

      • Orphan of the Road says:

        Couple of brownies or a butter cream bon-bon passed the joint for the Kauffman Krowd.

        It’s the new Mother Nature takin’ over.

  6. expat says:

    Man I dug TAAB out of my dad’s record collection when I was a kid and listened the hell out of it. (Keep in mind it was already 20 years old by that point.) Even read the entire fake newspaper… Unfortunately I think he put it (and the rest of his record gold) out by the curb a few years back but reading this makes me want to get back into vinyl.

    In a way we were lucky to have the kinesthetic/aesthetic experience of vinyl. My toddler daughter is going to grow up in a totally digitized world and never have that experience – indeed her little finger is already adept at using a touch screen but she’s never seen a record.

    • JS says:

      I just bought an original Thick as a Brick album at an antique store.
      And record players are easy to find. My kids bought me one for Christmas.

  7. paulwilsonkc says:

    I’d been in touch several times with Anne Leighton, Ian/Tull’s management; she was kind enough to link our preview on the Tull site. 400 some odd LIKES in 3 hours in the middle of the night! Thanks, Anne.

    Jethro Tull shared a link.
    3 hours ago ·
    Memories from Paul Wilson, who is looking forward to Ian’s show on Saturday in Kansas City.

    Here are tickets:
    Paul Wilson: Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull Performs ‘Thick as a Brick’ @ Kauffman Center | KC…
    414 Likes·10 Comments

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Correction, it’s up to 750LIKES! Anne has been very gracious putting this in front of Tull’s half million fans on their page.

  8. paulwilsonkc says:

    Here’s the link to the Tull site:

  9. Gary says:

    I liked the column but I’m pretty sure that no members of Jethro Tull are playing with him now. Martin Barre was Tull’s second guitarist and he hasn’t been involved in TAAB2 or the two tours Anderson has taken performing both of these albums.

  10. admin says:


    According to Anderson’s Web site, two of the touring bandmembers are also described as being members of Jethro Tull in the band’s 2007-2012 incarnation

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Admin, this comment came to me from the Official Tull website after our story was posted:

      “Paul Wilson stated that a couple of original band members are performing in Ian’s band. Some attendees, including him, are going to be disappointed. He needs to go back and read the plethora of reviews and Ian interviews.”

      Well, I did and have read a “plethora” of information on this show and, indeed, he does have 1-2 original members with him. He did in other cities, he did in Iceland, I hope he does here.

  11. Cheech lifting weights says:

    So if Franz Ferdinand are the Stones, and Phish is Zappa and Widespread Panic is the Allman Brothers, then do we have a modern day Tull clone?

    • the dude says:

      No, because all those modern bands you mention pale in comparison to the older bands you mention. And any modern analogy would pale in comparison also.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Cheech, I’ll go w you on Franz/Stones but I’ve always put Phish w the Dead.
      Tull has no comparative in my mind. Totally unique.

  12. Ted Benner says:

    Ian Anderson is the only ‘original’ member of Tull in his solo band, which sports 2 current members. Opahle is great but he doesn’t rival Barre.

  13. R. Garth says:

    Another mighty album (TAAB2) from Ian Anderson… What an incredible feast he hath prepared for us!
    Yet always leaves us wanting more…

  14. Ron Fent says:

    Ian and the band just blew us away in Salina last night. Though I agree that his voice is frail – heck he’s 65 – his use of actor/singer Ryan O’Donnell as a kind of human avatar only adds to the theater of the spectacle. The rest of the band were : David Goodier on bass, John O’Hara on keyboards, Scott Hammond on drums and Florian Opahle on the Les Paul guitar. TAAB 2 is masterful. You’re in for a treat, KC!

  15. paulwilsonkc says:

    Hey, Ron, thanks so much for the comment! The summer of 72 was consumed with TAAB for me. Married to a much younger girl….I’ve been bringing her up to speed via YouTube!
    I’ll be there early to grab a drink in the lobby, email me at if you’d like to meet before or after the show.

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