june 28, 2001
trip to Italy started for me very tired. Directly After work I travelled
from Cologne to Worms to meet Ulla Hilger and start the journey to Italy.
I reached Worms about midnight and after some talk and a coffee we started
our trip through the night and the alps.
I managed to get some sleep in the car
(which isn't very easy if you're a tall guy - 2,01 meters, that's 6 foot
7,5 inches!), this meant that I didn't see the sunrise (which was beautiful
as Ulla said), but anyway, I was awaken enough to drive myself the last
few hundred kilometers from the italian frontier. We didn't have any traffic
jams (we really expected some, as the holidays just started in some parts
of Germany), so we reached Fidenza early at about 9.00 o'clock.
Aldo -the Itullian organizer of the convention-
booked a fine hotel for us, it wasn't too expensive and -the most important
fact- so big that my bed was very far away from Ulla's. Not that I'm afraid
of any sexual attacks (she's catholic!), but she's simply the loudest snoring
person in the world! Ok, maybe the second loudest after ... Dr. Michael
Nauber. Once, in Gravesend 1996, Dietmar and me had some incredible experiences
with this ... This just reminds me that Dave Rees must be even louder -
the champion in snoring his neighbours to deafness, but anyway ... let's
continue with more important facts!
Ulla took some sleep while I had some breakfast
and a walk around. The coffee in Italy is simply perfect, so I took several
oppurtunities to satisfy this addiction ...
The weather was beautiful, a sunny sky
with no clouds and about 35°C already in the morning. Good that every
building in Italy has an air condition it seems.
I found the Teatro Magnani, it was only
300 m from the hotel - perfect!
I took some sleep myself before we met
some other conventioneers in the afternoon. Other friends from Germany,
Luxemburg (yes, the land of instant beer!) and the Netherlands arrived
and even the "A New Day" team (Dave Rees, his brother and Keith The Jacket)
found the way to Fidenza without any accidents or broken car keys!
It was time to have some beers and to
have some extensive chat, mostly about the recent concerts in Germany and
europe. The first pub we visited ran out of Becks beer and Guiness soon
so we had to move to the next one. Needless to say that after two hours
or so they also ran out of our favourite booze ... at least they made some
good money having us as their guests, but it could have been more, guys!
We also met Aldo who showed us the convention
place, a beautiful old theatre from 18th century. If I can trust my italian,
Giuseppe Verdi had the premiere of his "Troubador" at this theatre in 1861.
A beautiful place and surely one of the most beautiful places that Tull
ever played, but more of that later.
We arranged a meeting with Aldo for diner
at the restaurant in our hotel later in the evening.
When we arrived there we recognized that
it seemed that Aldo already prepared something special for us: a table
was booked only for us and there was also a one-man-band ready to play
just for us! Usually I don't like such entertainers, but he did a good
job in playing a lot of progressive music from the seventies and he had
a good voice too. Maybe the best pizza I ever eat and surely a fine tap
beer they got there - I didn't thought that I would be able to drink italian
This evening was very entertaining, as
there were some other Tullies from all over the world. Very nice to meet
the isralis around Gidi that I know "virtually" for a long time. Gidi is
a blind fan from Israel, some of you may have been reading some of his
kryptic messages in the newsgroups ;-)) He's a very nice guy and entertained
us with a lot of jokes. My favourite was when he told me that he once met
Art Garfunkel and asked him if he could drive him home . "Sorry, Stevie
Wonder is already my driver" Art answered, *lol*!
Just for historical reasons I have to notice
that the last part of the evening turned out to be a drinking battle England
vs. Germany. I would say it went equal, but due to the fact that Dave Rees
slept until 2 in the afternoon the next day while I was up at ten -looking
really pretty, of course!- the referee declared me being the winner by
And we discussed it, this is the same
result as the big football match in september, Dave!
The convention day started with Ulla trying
to wake me up at 7.30! She really is a bastard, as a teacher she wakes
up at this time everyday, even in her holidays. "If I'm awaken, everybody
has to wake up" is one of her guidelines - I succesfully broke this rule
and slept until about ten.
The breakfast took about 5 hours in a
pub and satisfied one more time my addiction to this lecker italian coffee.
The pretty little italian waitress was afraid that I might die by a heart
attack after ordering the 4th or 5th one, I think ...
Anyway, a lot of chat with the other Tullies
about what might happen later that day until ... 16.00 when the thing finally
Laufi and Ulla
the "New Day" team
The stalls were outside the theatre, were
also a stage was found. To get the theater from the community, I think,
the organisers had to do something for the local public, which they did
with a concert outside the theatre with a lot of local bands. There were
some really good ones in every kind of musical style and they all had to
play at least one Tull song. This was sometimes really funny, even the
techno DJ that played had a Tull song in his set. Pretty sure that nearly
none of the Tullies liked it, but at least it was well done!
It was too hot to stay in front of the
stage to listen to the music, so everybody (incl. half of the population
of Fidenza, I think) looked for a place at the side in the shadow.
The action outside the theatre was a good
possibility to talk to other Tullies, I even met some italian guys I'm
in contact with for several years. There were also a lot of stalls with
fine collectibles and it was the premiere of Dave Rees' book "Minstrels
In The Gallery" in german language which Ulla and me carried from Germany
to Italy to sell it to ... german people!
chatting and ...
... beautiful girls!?
The stalls ...
... were vell visted!
a local band
The doors opened about 30 minutes late
due to a longer soundcheck, which was no big problem. It seemed to be a
problem to get into the theatre quickly (luckily the seats were numbered),
as the audience was checked by policemen in uniform with pistols, etc.!
This looked very strange and I don't know if this is normal in Italy, but
anyway, I later found out that they only looked dangerous, but were really
friendly as the whole staff of the theatre was!
As I wrote earlier, this it's a beautiful
place; an old theatre with 4 rows of balconies and also places on the floor.
I managed to get a place in a balcony in the middle which was a place with
the perfect sound to ... listen to the concert ;-)
The music started early with the first support
act, a kind of acoustic duo. To be honest, I didn't listen to them very
much, as I had to have a short visit to the bar before the real action.
But what I heard was fine.
Laufi at the balcony
taking the seats
Next was the raffle. I bought ten coupons
for the lottery and as far as I understood they had prices like signed
CDs, T-Shirts, posters, etc. I'm pretty sure that I won the best prices,
but I simply didn't recognize it, as they read all the numbers in italian!
The "official opening" of the concert
part of the convention was very unspectacular with every main attraction
already on stage: Aldo, the whole Jethro Tull Line-Up, Clive Bunker and
They got standing ovations by an enthusiastic
audience and then chose three happy people for the finale when they had
to be Jethro Tull's lead singers in "Locomotive Breath"! More of
Aldo announced that the next band would
be on stage in about 10 minutes, which gave me the opportunity for a cigarette
and a beer in the foyer ...
To be honest, I'm not very much into Jethro
Tull cover bands and I don't have the "Songs for Jethro" CD (yet) that
was recorded at the Itullian Convention last year. The only thing I knew
about the "Souldrivers" is that it was Ian Anderson's wish to play a song
They started with "Love Story"
and ... I was blown away! THAT's what I like to hear from a cover band,
they played their real own version in a grunge/alternative style with a
fine singer that had a remarkable voice. For the next song, "Sweet
Dream", Ian was announced by the singer. They did a brilliant performance
of this song and even if Ian was in the wrong key with the flute at one
part - this was excellent!
Ian fit perfect in the line-up wearing a grungy
hat on stage :-) He seemed to enjoy the gig and got an extra applause when
he started to sing. The very only low point of the "Souldrivers" was that
they only played 2 songs! It would have been great to get some more of
their interpretations of Tull music.
& Beggar's Farm
The next song was "Cathedral",
I didn't understand the introduction, as David spoke italian, but this
is a "Tallis" song, the band he had together with John Evans. A nice one,
As a youngster, the first time I met David
Palmer was at the UK Convention in Gravesend back in 1996. It's a bit strange,
I think what he offered then had everything from lousy to excellent. Especially
his voice is sometimes hard to listen to, on the other side, often it's
very interesting and amusing!
I had no clue about "Beggar's Farm", as
I'm not much into these Tull cover bands, but I was really surpirsed that
they are bloody brilliant musicians!
They started with "No Lullaby"
as an intro for David Palmer entering the stage. David sang and played
the first verse of "Wind-Up" alone, then the whole band played
Whistler". The sound was ok, but far from being perfect, which
luckily changed through the set and later the soundman did find the right
"The Third Hoorah" was fine,
as was "Taxi Grab". Very funny the interlude when David Palmer's
monitorbox didn't work: "we need a new wedge here, quick, quick!" Then
he played some piano ...
"Moths" was followed by
a real bummer, a beautiful rendition of "Coronach"! Fine
playing and great to hear that song, I just wish Ian would have been on
stage for this one.
The next song David announced being recorded
on july 1st 1974 in London. Knowing it, because "he was there",
they played "Rainbow Blues". They had to stop after the intro,
as parts of the band were out of time, which was no big accident, they
played the second part very well.
The next three songs were the highlight of
the "Beggar's Farm" set for me: Ian appeared on stage to play "King
Henry's Madrigal", what a surprise! Not only because Ian played
with the band, but also because the band played it absolutely brilliant!
Also it was the first time I saw that Ian accepted a second flute on stage
- the "Beggar's Farm" singer played a big alto flute. I expected "Elegy",
it was the highlight in Gravesend 1996 when Ian and David played it together
and so they did here. Simply a beautiful piece of music!
Now it went sensational ... again the next
song was introduced in italian, but I did understand that David spoke about
an unreleased Tull song from the "Stormwatch" era named "Apocalypse".
Well, what should I say? A FANTASTIC song with various time and rhythm
changes, great flute work, a fine isntrumental part and catchy hook lines.
This is already one of my favourites! PLEASE, Ian, if you ever go through
your archives and find this one - release it or re-record it, it's a great
piece of music!
I wonder what unreleased or unrecorded
Tull songs are in the vaults. I know that David Palmer found notes of a
1976 song named "6 O'Clock News". And he thinks that it's one of the ten
best Tull songs ever!
After these three highlights in a row, David
Palmer left the stage and Clive Bunker took the drum seat!
The singing was done by the regular "Beggar's
Farm" singer who did a great job on flute, btw. His singing is ok, sometimes
the italian accent is strange to listen to.
Clive played driving drums in "Cross-Eyed
Mary", "A Song For Jeffrey" and "To Cry You
A Song", all very close to the original arrangements. Then "Beggar's
Farm" had a big finale when they played "Nothing Is Easy"
and Clive had a spot with a drum solo. But not only that he played a simple
solo ... Doane Perry entered the second drum set and they did a drum battle!
Great to hear these two excellent drummers demonstrating what they're able
to play. And very nice if you know the background that Doane Perry -the
current drummer in jethro Tull- once had a drum lesson by Clive Bunker
-when he was the drummer in jethro Tull! They also shared the drums for
the last song in the set, "Aqualung", which was the only
-very small- low point of an entertaining concert, a bit too fast and ...
well, the guitar player was absolutely excellent, but this one needed a
guest appearance of Martin Barre for the solo ;-)
Well, this was the third Jethro Tull Convention
that had the whole band officially on the bill. The first one was in the
U.S. in 1997, which was very entertaining (I wasn't there, but got a lot
of reviews). The second one was back in 1998 in Bedburg-Hau, for the German
Convention 1998. In my opinion, a convention is that friends and fans
meet and chat, have some drinks and a nice day. I enjoy such events even
without any of the band members (past or present) being there. If they
appear it has to be seen as a bonus, but it shouldn't be the focus. The
thing that went wrong in 1998 was that we simply got a "normal" concert
by a band that lost his good mood through the evening. Whatever the circumstances
for this may have been -I only know rumours about it- I would have
liked it more as a convention without the band, at least without them playing
just a normal concert - more or less (read my review elsewhere
on this site).
Anyway, we were promised a special set
in Fidenza, as Ian announced this at the official website. And it had to
be special if it was only through the fact that Tull played with completely
Ian said at the openning of the convention
that "this is just a night off and we like to have a good time with some
good friends". They must have some good friends in Italy!
Ian started alone, playing "The Secret
Language Of Birds" with his "band-in-a-box", a CD player. I liked
his appearances at several promo and radio gigs in this kind, but don't
see the sense in doing this when the whole band is available (and they
should know this song, as they already played it live in 1999). Thinking
about it, it was a good soundcheck for the unknown monitor and P.A., also
I think there was no Hohner Akkordeon available, so it's accepted :-)
Ian announced Martin and they started
The Sun Won't Shine For You Anymore" in which later for the second
part the whole band appeared on stage.
The sound was fine for the fact that they
had to play with semi-professional and borrowed equipment, the "Beggar's
Farm" gig was a good check to find the balance and the great sound of the
theatre did the rest - very enjoyable sound!
The next song was a nice surprise, as they
found "Jack-In-The-Green" in the vaults, fine singing by
Ian! I wish that Tull plays more such pearls in their regular concerts,
Now Ian announced Clive Bunker who took the
drum seat again and did a premiere, as he played "My Sunday Feeling"
for the very first time! You might wonder, as he played it on the record,
but Clive said that he never played it live with the band until this gig
(and the soundcheck in the afternoon). Of course he also played "Bourée",
because "Doane Perry was about to give birth to an alien love child"!
"A New Day Yesterday" was
played in the recent arrangement with the "Kelpie" instrumental
part, but it was disturbed by some very ugly and loud distortion noises!
I located them coming from the keyboards, luckily the technicians found
the reason very quickly during the song.
"And now something that doesn't very often
happen is gonna happen tonight and I want you to be very quite and listen
carefully to what is going to be said by Martin Lancelot Barre!", Ian announced
and Martin told us a story: "This is a sad story. I once had a cat who's
name was "Morris". He was a happy cat, so I cut his balls off ... and we
had to rename him "Morris Minus". Morris had his revenge a few years later,
when my wife made me have the same operation. So I dedicate this to the
two of us, thank you!". Of course they played the fine "Morris Minus",
which reminded me how great Martin's solo material is. Let's hope the best
for the third album and a tour!
Next was the new "untitled instrumental
jig" that was already played at some of the recent concerts. It
was the first time that I heard it, it's a nice piece in two parts, one
of them sounds a bit like "Mayhem Maybe". Good music, but It doesn't sound
"With You There To Help Me"
had a big surprise - at least for Ian, as he didn't knew that Clive Bunker
would help out on drums again! Powerful playing and a great voice. I think
it's always the same, if I hear Ian singing in intimate places like the
recordings for the dutch "2
Meter Sessies" 2 years ago or in small clubs, I recognize that he still
has a fine voice. The problems don't appear at such events, only at the
The finale of the Tull set was a bummer
again! Not because of the music they played, but because of the line-up.
As I wrote earlier, three happy (or unhappy?) volunteers were chosen to
sing "Locomotive Breath". Tull played the song without the
piano intro and it was good fun for all parts, the volunteers were happy
to be on stage with their favourite band, the band and the audience had
some very good laughs! And the singers" weren't THAT bad, really ;-) My
suggestion was to do a eurovision song contest between England and Germany
and let Dave Rees and Ulla Hilger sing ... even if someone shouted "let
Dave Rees sing" (don't know who that was!), they didn't hear what I was
yelling and Dave Rees wasn't asked being onstage ;-) THAT would have
Clive Bunker was also on stage again.
Well, I thought it was over, but it wasn't.
Jethro Tull showed that they are able to do some improvisation. Ian wanted
to thank Aldo, the organiser and he also asked David Palmer coming on stage.
Then, I think, something in his mind did "click" and they played a reprise
of "Locomotive Breath",
and what a reprise! Aldo told Ian a few weeks ago that he plays a little
bass guitar, so he was in doing the job (Jon showed him the chords before
they started). I'm pretty sure that this was one of the best moments in
his life, he looked proud and happy. I have to say that his appearance
was a fine gesture showing him the respect for organising such a great
David Palmer was asked by Ian to play
the piano intro "where he said oh shit, that's fucking awful!" and so he
did. He started it like we all know it and then just played crazy stuff!
So the whole band went into a spooky-jazzy atmosphere and was just jamming
around the chords. I just thought how they would get out of this stuff,
when ... Ian started to sing in this crazy style the most famous song of
our favourite band! But it went more crazy when David Palmer sang the second
verse like .... eh ... well, like a gay hairstylist! Damn, this was brilliant
fun and -really- I had problems to hold my pee and not to laugh out loud
(I had to be quite because of ... eh ... the other people in my balcony,
you know ;-))
Well, not easy to explain this "stunt
version" of "Locomotive Breath",
so listen to the real audio file, enjoy!
The curtain was closed, but the crowd was
shouting and singing for minutes, even when James Taylor music was played
over the P.A. What a great enthusiastic atmosphere! They only stopped after
Aldo came back on stage and gave a sign that there would be no more encores.
Well, that was the end of a Jethro Tull
Convention that surely already has his place in the fans history books.
You might say that -except for the surprises with The "Souldrivers" and
"Beggar's Farm"- the Jethro Tull set had not that much specials in it,
but I think it was a very special gig. Not only that Tull played the days
before and after the convention shows in Germany, so they took the pain
of long travels just "to be with some friends". They played with borrowed
equipment and the most important thing is: everybody saw that they had
fun and they simply liked it!
I've got no idea how to top this convention
at future events, except for the re-union of the first line-up - let's
hope that it will happen one day!
We had some party later the evening and
-of course- chatted with other Tullies about what happened. A lot of friendships
were made and everybody surely had one (or even more wonderful day(s).
Ulla is still in Italy for holidays, while
I had to do a thirteen hours travel back on sunday to be in the TV studio
for a job on monday. Anyway, I had so much impressions in my head that
this couldn't bother me and I had my copy of Dave Rees' book, which perfectly
fit half of the journey :-)
Let's say some "thank you's", the biggest
one goes to Aldo and his team, you all did a perfect job and treated the
guests from Italy and all over the world with such a loveliness. You put
a perfect event together, Aldo, your da man! Let's have some pints in Cropredy
Thanks also to all the nice people from
Italy, Israel, Greece, England, Netherlands, etc, it was nice to meet you
all. And a big thank you to Albert for these great pics, he was the only
one who was allowed to stay on the floor near the stage during the show
(rainy Cologne, july 15,