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Martin Barre lives in the past & looks forward at The Sweetwater

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.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Martin Barre gestures to the audience during a performance at The Sweetwater in Mill Valley Wednesday night. Barre, who spent 43 years as the lead guitarist for Jethro Tull, is touring to support the release of “Roads Less Travelled,” his recently released seventh solo album.

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.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Martin Barre performs Wednesday night at The Sweetwater in Mill Valley. The long-time lead guitarist of Jethro Tull and his band delivered a stellar set of old favorites along with a handful of cuts from “Roads Less Travelled,” his new solo album.

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.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Martin Barre soaks in the crowd at The Sweetwater during his performance at the Mill Valley club Wednesday night.

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 .

One comment

  1. Murray Sanders

    Thanks so much for sharing these photos of Martin Barre. I flew down from Vancouver BC for this event. Martin Barre Band for two shows – you don’t miss this. I could not add a word to your review of the performance. Martin is lucky to have these guys in the band. New drummer Darby Todd is a shot in the arm for the band. Martin Barre plays those thick chords and jaw-dropping runs that most guitarists only dream of. I sat in the second row for both nights, and they blew me right out of my shoes ! Cheers.

About Daniel Gluskoter

Daniel Gluskoter is the Martinez Tribune's national music and sports editor and a Bay Area photojournalist who's work has been featured in Rolling Stone, Time Magazine and Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2008 Presidential campaign as a correspondent for United Press International and has travelled worldwide covering events ranging from numerous Super Bowls and Olympics to Live Aid and the Grammys.

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