BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Long-Time Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre, fresh off the release of a new solo album, kicked off of a brief two night stint in Marin with the first of a pair of shows at The Sweetwater in Mill Valley Wednesday night.
The 72 year-old Brit played beside Ian Anderson as lead guitarist for the groundbreaking progressive classic rock band for more than 40 years while selling over 60 million albums. Barre is touring in support of his newly released solo album “Roads Less Travelled,” his first new material in three years.
Barre’s touring band, featuring the animated Dan Crisp on lead vocals, Alan Thompson on bass and Darby Todd on drums, delivered an outstanding near two hour set for the standing room only crowd in the intimate hall. While Crisp can sometimes be an imposing, although jovial figure, often showing facial mannerisms similar to Anderson himself, Barre came across as a uber-talented sweetheart, joking profusely with the crowd between songs throughout the evening and detailing how he first met his original future band mates on Christmas Eve in 1968.
The new solo album, Barre’s seventh, provides a fresh and invigorating view of his diverse musical talents. It’s songs mix a combination of rock, jazz, and blues along with a touch of folk. Crisp sings lead on seven of the discs 11 tracks, including “Lone Wolf,” the opening track described as being inspired by An American Werewolf in London. It was one of three songs from the new release performed Wednesday.
Another new track, the rocking Tull-like “(This Is) My Driving Song,” also stood out, but you can’t truly talk Barre, or attend one of his concerts, without a healthy dose of his long-time bands heritage commanding significant attention.
Not remotely shying away from his roots, the guitarist’s set was close to 75% Tull material. A cover of The Beatles “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” one of the more obscure tracks from Abbey Road, was priceless. One can only hope that Barre will find a place for his interpretation of the song on a future release.
But still, it was the Tull material that pretty much owned the night. It was literally a trip down memory lane to be treated to songs like “Nothing Is Easy,” “Hunting Girl,” “A Song For Jeffery” and “A New Day Yesterday.” The set closing “Aqualung” was nearly as fierce as the original that solidified the bands legacy back in 1971, and “Locomotive Breath,” the encore, continues to be near the top of any short-list of the most iconic songs of the classic rock era.
At the top of any educated list of the most glaring omissions from the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame, the Tull legacy, which Anderson himself stated “Without Martin Barre, Jethro Tull could not exist,” will be further enhanced with yet another upcoming album from Barre. A double album celebrating 50 years of Tull’s music has already been mixed and is scheduled to be released later in the tour featuring original Tull members drummer Clive Bunker and keyboardist Dee Palmer.
In addition to tonight’s show, the Martin Barre Band will also be performing tomorrow night at Yoshi‘s in Oakland. Tickets are available at https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1666828?_ga=2.24650490.1548665654.1551322054-1639607739.1551322053 .