A sold-out Lichfield Cathedral audience heard one of rock’s most idiosyncratic bands and some very special guests when Jethro Tull performed.
With a storied career in music going back more than 50 years, they blended pop, rock, blues and progressive styles into a sonic melange that put the focus on the flute of Ian Anderson – a charismatic figure at the centre of a storm of creativity.
Their repertoire for the evening consisted of some classic Christmas carols, spirited punk rock, classic pop and jazz-tinged arrangements of other work.
The ensemble for the evening was guitarist Joe Parrish, Scott Hammond on drums and percussion, John O’Hara on piano, keyboard and accordion, David Goodir on bass, alongside Anderson on flute, mandolin, acoustic guitar and vocals.
The evening started with a spirited jazz reading of God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman and We Three Kings, which featured a choir from Lichfield Cathedral School.
The first guest of the evening was Marc Almond, who sang his song Bedsitter. One of the highlights of the evening was the ensemble version of Say Hello, Wave Goodbye with showed his remarkable range of to good effect.
The evening’s second guest was TV food critic Lloyd Grossman who joined the band for two punk rock songs. Christmastime Romance was the more energetic of the two, a display of youthful vigour and enthusiasm.
Although much of the soloing came from the flute, the guitarist and keyboard player had their fair share of soloing and time in the spotlight, playing in unison and at times in harmony. The bass playing and drums also added a lot to the mix, with key changes and changes in time signatures being safely navigated.
At times, the organ of the cathedral was played, used to particularly fine effect accompanying the choir.
A reading of one of Marc Almond’s best-known songs – his cover of Tainted Love – sadly didn’t feature, although a favourite at Christmas work discos, it probably wouldn’t have suited the more refined surroundings of the cathedral.