Martin Barre Band
The Plaza Live
Friday, March 10, Orlando, FL
Martin Barre has been at this music thing for some time now, and was witness to the moment when rock n roll began to seriously evolve. Rock in the late 1960’s began to break away from the blues based formula which served it so well and classical themes, jazzy improvisations, and a dark heavyness began to push forth from the three chord mindset which had defined the form since 1955.
Barre was there as prog (progressive) rock entered, with odd meters and tricky changes became it’s own thing. Present when heavy metal, lumbered forth like an angry giant awakened, and when songs became ever longer and increasingly improvised, and he was a part of it all. His role in Jethro Tull was no little thing. And Tull did all of these things and more.
So tonight at the Plaza Live, Barre still spry, quick witted and agile, took the stage and ably reminded all present, why he deserves his reputation as a guitarist for the ages. The show pulled four (and possibly more) songs from his latest solo album, Back to Steel. His reworking of The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” both an album and show highlight. The song is inverted and re-imagined. This was back to back with “She’s So Heavy.” also from the new album, “Moment of Madness” was positively incendiary.
The oldest song I recognized from his personal back catalog was “Nothing to Say” from JT’s Benefit album. An extended excerpt from the seminal work “Thick as a Brick” was stunning for the precision it was executed. “Skating Away on the Thin Ice of a New Day” was the evening’s first true sing-along.
For “Crossroads” Barre pulled out a lute to give the blues standard a truly English twist. The band was exceptional. The current line-up of guitarist and vocalist Dan Crisp, bassist Alan Thomson and new addition, drummer Jonathan Joseph, handled the material with ease and proved to be a great band to accompany and play off of Barre.
The band closed out the set with “Locomotive Breath” turning the song into a hard shuffle. Martin Barre’s legacy is forever tied to Jethro Tull, but here fronting his own band, he’s his own man with his own identity, worthy of your time and consideration.