Martin Barre at Reggie's Rock Club, Chicago - live review

Former Jethro Tull guitarist wows this Chicago audience

live shot
(Image: © Katja Ogrin)

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Legendary Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre may be 70 years old now, but his live performances show how relative age is. Barre hasn’t lost a step. This show features no flute, thus giving the Tull songs more bravado and muscle, which is evident right from the opening track, Minstrel In The Gallery.

Vocalist and rhythm guitar player Dan Crisp channels his inner Ian Anderson effectively, his singing capturing the spirit of Tull. Crisp is able to interact with fans, despite his vocal and guitar duties – talk about multitasking. And his stage presence has those in attendance hooting and hollering.

Drummer Dave Schoepke and bassist Alan Thomson are steady anchors, giving the show groove and thump. But as you’d expect, this is a guitar-driven performance, and at each turn Barre finds another way to impress with his playing. Sealion features an odd time signature that has Barre and Crisp feeding off one another, and has a King Crimson vibe to it. The show changes in style from song to song. At times the performance feels very bluesy, with a cover of Robert Johnson’s Cross Road Blues in the set. At other times it turns into hard rock, with Moment Of Madness packing a heavy punch. Then, of course, there are the biggest Tull hits, which the crowd expect, and which make this concert feel complete.

The band charge into a great version of Locomotive Breath, where Anderson’s flute presence is replaced by the hard-toned sound and riffing of Barre’s guitar. This has a technically delightful solo that’s played fast and furiously, bringing the audience out of their seats, hoping for at least one more tune.

Of course, there’s one more ready to be aired, and it’s one of the biggest songs in the Tull catalogue: Aqualung. The fans sing along in a therapeutic and joyous fashion, and they know every lyric. The famous guitar solo is played to perfection by Barre.

The memories of this tremendous performance should last these fans for a lifetime. They’ve witnessed a man who proves his live talent must be viewed first-hand to be appreciated. Going into the venue, this writer didn’t know what to expect, but left it like everyone else – satisfied and enlightened