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Queens Chronicle

Rock legend chats before Forest Hills Stadium show

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Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2019 10:30 am

Jethro Tull lead vocalist and flautist Ian Anderson hopes his upcoming show at Forest Hills Stadium is a better experience than the band’s 1976 concert at Shea Stadium.

Anderson, who was featured with guitarists Robin Trower and Rory Gallagher that day, remembers the constant barrage of planes from LaGuardia interrupting with noise. And he was playing in the middle of the field, which was a long way from the fans to begin with.

The worst part was that right before he walked on the field, he realized he was drenched from head to toe because somebody poured a cup on him and it wasn’t beer.

“Somebody poured a pint of piss over my head,” Anderson said in an interview last Friday.

Ian Anderson’s “50 Years of Jethro Tull” tour takes him back to Queens next week.

He is the last original member of a band that has released 30 albums, selling more than 60 million copies. The changing lineup also has played more than 3,000 concerts in more than 50 countries.

Anderson said American audiences have a reputation of being friendly and hospitable though he did warn his group before an orchestral show at the Beacon Theater that New York crowds “can be a little demonstrative” and not to be put off their game by whistling and comments. “To my surprise they were as good as gold,” he said.

Anderson noted Latin countries have younger crowds while the audiences in the U.S., UK and Germany skew older.

“They’re not quite dead yet but we have the odd paramedic rush into the audience from time to time,” he said.

In the early 1970s, Jethro Tull albums “Thick as a Brick” and “A Passion Play” reached the top of the charts, while “Aqualung,” “War Child,” “Minstrel in the Gallery” and “Songs From the Wood” made it into the Top 10.

Anderson is credited with introducing the flute to rock as a front-line instrument, and he has been the constant in a group that has seen plenty of combinations.

When they perform, there will be images on a video board behind them, some abstract, some literal, some historical.

“There’s something gratifying about working with video,” Anderson said.

Jethro Tull has legions of fans but Anderson said the feedback he gets now comes from merchandising director Tom Lynch.

“He probably only tells me the stuff he thinks I want to hear,” Anderson said.

During the week, the group will also play in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Anderson, who turned 72 last month, said longer trips aren’t necessarily tiring but he does have a sense of longing to spend the night in his own bed.

The rocker said he tries not to take extended breaks, especially as he gets older, because it would be that much tougher to start up again.

More than 40 years ago, Jethro Tull had a song “Too Old to Rock and Roll.” But as Anderson says in the “All Too Frequently Asked Questions” portion of the band’s website, the song is not autobiographical.

“It was an album track which was about the cyclic changes of fashion in culture, pop and rock music,” he wrote. “Quite predictive for 1975 really, given the endless recycling of ’60s and ’70s musical influences which fill the charts these days.”

Fans can look out for a 40th anniversary reissue of the album “Stormwatch” as a deluxe boxed set and “The Ballad of Jethro Tull,” an illustrated, oral history of the band that is the first official Jethro Tull book.

Jethro Tull
When: Sat., Sept. 14, 7 p.m.
Where: Forest Hills Stadium, 1 Tennis Place, Forest Hills
Tickets: $39.50-$169.50.
1 (888) 929-7849,

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