The Immortal Flautist, Singer and Performer Extraordinaire, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull

Rocks, red ones.

That was the subject line of one of my emails back and forth with my friend, Stephanie, who drove to Red Rocks with me and a picnic carefully packed into the front seat (think: rocking chair. It moves.) of her little red Nissan.

About 30 seconds into “Bouree,” I turned to Stephanie and said, “This alone  was worth $40.”

We arrived at Red Rocks around 4:30 pm. The venue didn’t open till 5:30. The opening act, Steve Luthaker of Toto, didn’t start till 7 pm. With careful instructions from another friend, Lawrence, who often goes to concerts and really knows his way around buying tickets, we were there to scan the streets for people selling tickets to other hopefuls like ourselves.

Near the first entrance, we saw a large white banner proclaiming “Tickets – Buy or Sell.” 

Well, we didn’t expect it to be that obvious, but we pulled in and discovered that due to 3 different laws, one covering Jefferson County, one covering the venue, and another one, it was prohibited to sell tickets either inside or within 100 yards of the venue. So, a clever entrepreneur negotiated a 10-year lease for a small pull-out space at the side of the road on private property. There, and there alone, could you buy or sell tickets.

When we pulled up, a charming African American fellow with papers and tickets in his hand, asked, “Cheap ones or good ones?” Stephanie and I said, “Cheap ones!” The best he could offere was 2 tickets for $120. We thanked him and drove on, hoping to find others. After circling once, we realized that there were no others being offered. We thought maybe we were too early, so we went off to have a nice picnic of fruit, crackers and cheese with chocolate for dessert by the Church of the Transfiguration’s labyrinth by the creek.

About 6:30 we decided it was time to go seek other tickets. It was then we realized there really were no other choices. So, we waited there, in the spattering drizzle hoping that someone would sell some cheaper tickests to Wilie and he would sell them to us. But there weren’t many to be had. Finally, at 7:30, he said, “Hey, look. If no one buys these last 2 tickets by 7:45, I’ll sell them to you for $40 each. Deal?” The face value was $74.50. If we had bought them online, fees would have made them $85 tickets. “Hey, that’s like 2-for-1,” he said. We agreed, and watched a little nervously while 2 or 3 other cars pulled through and turned down those tickets.

No one bought them, and at 7:45 pm, Willie sold us the tickets and threw in 2 rain panchos to keep us dry. Nice. We liked him. If you need tickets, see Willie.

I found out in February that Ian Anderson would be at Red Rocks in August. Lawrence, knowing my 30 year love of Jethro Tull, emailed me as soon as he found out. I spent the last seven months waffling about spending that kind of money on that kind of thing. I have a lifelong preference for buying albums at $12 over paying even $40 or $60 for concert tickets, a 3-hour thing, when I can buy an album that will last me until they change the popular playback medium once again. I think I have owned Songs from the Wood as an LP, 8-track, cassette and CD. Now I have it on iTunes, too.

Sheesh, 586 words and I haven’t even described the concert itself, yet. I barely know how. if you are not much into music, and if you don’t love Jethro Tull, thre is almost no way to convey what this was like for me. Let me try it this way:

Think of your Favorite Thing To Do.

Now, think of your favorite way to do your Favorite Thing To Do.

Now, think of doing it in one of the most beautiful, natural settings for your Favorite Thing, and knowing it could be the Last Time you have the opportunity to do it.

Got it?  Your senses are alive, you’re making the most of every moment, you’re diving deep into who and where and what and loving every minute of it.

it was like that.

The light show was provided by Mother Nature. Really. Facing the stage and looking up, there was an incredible show of lightening that went on for maybe an hour of the show.

I took a minute each time he started a new piece, to enter the title into my Palm Centro. On the second tune, Stephanie pulled out pen and paper, and I showed her that I had it covered.  Thank God for technology.

For those who are interested, here is the set list.

My Sunday Feeling
Living in the Past
Serenade to a Cuckoo
So Much Trouble
Song for Jeffrey
Rocks on the Road
Bouree *swoon*
Too Old to Rock & Roll
New Day Yesterday
With You There to Help Me
Dharma for One
Heavy Horses
Thick as a Brick
Locomotive Breath

Someone at Rutgers has maintained a web site on Jethro Tull for at least the last decade. I refer to it for lyrics and discography:

Speaking of favorite things to do: I did some IAM Meditation during the concert. It certainly amplified the experience. I tried All It Is, Beginning Thinking, and a little thought-experiment where you imagine that everything you see is no thicker than a windshield and that is what you’re seeing, not a 3D image of reality like we think we see. Who knows?  it could be true.

Even thinking back, I can see doing some of the others. And I can do that now, like imagining that I don’t have words for the people, the rocks, the band. No words for any of it. Not even a word for looking at whatever-it-is. Just being with it.

I was aware that he started out slow, and built up. Likely he was conserving his energy. So, was the crowd. The average age of the audience was definitely over 40. Many were easily over 50 and more. Ian Anderson, himself, is 62. his birthday was Sunday, August 10. I wonder if there is something he likes to do in the US for his birthday?

Anyway, with the video monitor playing larger than life in front of me, I could see everything. Oh, and I started out with earplugs in, as Lawrence suggested, and that was a very good idea during the opening act, which was far louder. But I barely had them in during Jethro Tull’s performance. They weren’t really that necessary.

You can see Ian here:

He looked just like that, only his vest was leopard spotted.

Here is where he talked about a riot that broke out during his last appearance at Red Rocks in 1971.

The immortal Mr. Anderson is still pretty damn sprightly for 62. He didn’t bounce and swing the flute as much as he did the first and only other time I ever saw the band, back in 1975, but by the time he got to Heavy Horses, he was amping up. Thick as a Brick, even more so. And he played and danced as full out as one could expect from a 62 year old man and then some, for Aqualung and the encore, Locomotive Breath.

I remember thinking, it’s that one-legged posture with the flute that does it for me. It’s the posture in yellow silhouette on maroon, that’s on the cover of Living in the Past. There’s a picture of that here:

And the Wikipedia entry on Ian Anderson, has this to say about standing on one leg:

“His famous tendency to stand on one leg while playing the flute came about by accident. As related in the “Isle of Wight” video, he had been inclined to stand on one leg while playing the harmonica, holding the microphone stand for balance. During the long stint at the Marquee Club, a journalist described him, wrongly, as standing on one leg to play the flute. He decided to live up to the reputation, albeit with some difficulty. His early attempts are visible in the “Rock and Roll Circus” film appearance of Jethro Tull. In later life he was surprised to learn of iconic portrayals of various flute playing divinities, particularly Krishna and Kokopelli, which show them standing on one leg.”

I told you he hung the moon with that flute!

There are already a few videos of last night up on You Tube: Love it.

It was dazzling.

Am I Living in the Past?

Yes, sometimes.



“Jack, do you never sleep —
  does the green still run deep in your heart?
Or will these changing times,
  motorways, powerlines,
  keep us apart?
Well, I don’t think so —
  I saw some grass growing through the pavements today.”

                  – Ian Anderson, jack-in-the-Green, on Songs from the Wood, 1977

End note: 

Lyle just called. He asked if I smoked a cigarette afterward. I told him I would have if I did that sort of thing.

Lyle was really the motivation for me to go down to an unknown place, with no tickets, just some hope and give this a shot. He knew that. That’s why he kept calling. He said, “What really matters is showing up. If you just show up, everything works out.”

Isn’t that the truth in just about everything?



5 Responses to “The Immortal Flautist, Singer and Performer Extraordinaire, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull”

  1. Michelle Says:

    What an amazingly cool adventure! You did well, too, for not knowing how to describe the experience. You painted a beautiful picture; I was right there with you.

  2. Stacy Clark Says:

    Thank you. My companion, Stephanie, wrote me this morning on another topic of understanding and it fits. She remembers a quote that said:

    ‘Sharing understanding is too difficult. I think I’ll take up something easier, like herding cats. On a unicycle. In traffic.”

  3. Scott Says:

    Thanks for the setlist, Stacy! I saw them the last two times they’ve been in Denver (once a year the past two years) and Ian’s playing is always on fire! If you ever get the chance to see him up close — do! His whole raving eccentricities are even more incredible & hysterical up close!

  4. Steve and Linda Says:

    Glad you had such good fortune getting tickets and enjoying concert.



  5. royce2222 Says:


    Pls find rare footages of Jethro Tull with Anoushka Shankar from thier recent India Tour on youtube,

    A New Day Yesterday,
    Thick As A Brick,
    Heavy Horses,
    Tea With Anoushka (new IA/Shankar composition),
    Celtic Cradle (new IA/Shankar composition),
    Little Glass Folk (new IA/Shankar composition),
    Mother Goose,
    Locomotive Breath

    In case you wish a copy of this rare collrabration with Anoushka Shankar footage of all the above songs on DVD,pls do get in touch with me at footages have become collectors item and in great demand.

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