Jethro Tull brought a bit of Merry Olde England to the Capital Centre last night -- actually, quite a bit. The group was dressed in period garb that ranged from Edwardian hats to Elizabethan Sea Dog attire, and the musicians brandished sabers and umbrellas as well as instruments. The show was staged like a Shakespearean play, with dramatic lighting and action-filled entrances, and the music included folk songs, British rock and a song written by Henry VIII.
And of course, there were excesses of extravagant English eccentricity. Once, while a solemn ballad droned away, snow began to fall, a polar bear appeared and a man dressed in a slicker darted across the stage carrying a seagull.
Yet despite the hoopla, Jethro Tull remains an impressive musical aggregation, skillfully blending the intricate structures of medieval and renaissance music with slashing rock 'n' roll. Their performance was a magical mingling of diverse instrumental and visual effects with leader Ian Anderson standing at center stage like a modern Merlin, directing the show with his wandlike flute.
At a time when rock music is changing, the group has stayed much the same. But based on their show last night, it is clear that the sun might never set on Jethro Tull.