Around The World Live
Eagle Vision (4 DVDs)
By Dave Thompson
First things first. Anybody coming in hoping for a heady dose of Tull at their classic rock peak is in for ... not a disappointment, but a re-education. Two songs from the 1970 Isle of Wight festival and a full 1976 show in Tampa are as far as the box goes for Tull’s first decade.
However, that doesn’t mean you need to live without either the box set or the six-and-a-half hours of sound and vision therein. Chronologically, it may not be all-encompassing. But if there’s a major Tull favorite that doesn’t turn up somewhere within the 11 gigs showcased here (we’ll forgive the omission of “Solstice Bells”), then you have some mighty obscure opinions.
Shattering assaults on “Locomotive Breath,” “Aqualung,” “Thick As A Brick,” “Too Old To Rock ’n’ Roll” and “Heavy Horses” gallop around a repertoire that takes the audience back to the band’s late 1960s era as U.K. chart regulars (“Living In The Past,” “Life Is A Long Song,” but no “Witch’s Promise.” OK, we’ll have to forgive that as well). and forward to a dynamite Swiss show from 2005.
In between times, an apparently complete rendering of the band’s 1980 Munich show, plus excerpts from further German dates in 1982 and 1986 remind us just how well Tull weathered the 1980s, a decade that was scarcely a musical high point for any of their early ’70s contemporaries.
A jump to Santiago in 1996 proves that time passes very differently in Tull-land than it does for the rest of us. Later in the package, one cut from Leamington Spa in 2001 reiterates that, as original guitarist Mick Abrahams, bassist Glen Cornick and drummer Clive Bunker turn in a version of “My Sunday Feeling” that is every bits as spine tingling as that with which three-quarters of the same line-up opened Disc One, 31 years earlier.
Playing favorites with performances is pointless, but a special word for Disc Four. The aforementioned 2005 show devours the entire disc, with a lineup that preserves only Anderson and Martin Barre from any “classic” Tull (but which has been consistent over the previous decade’s worth of performances).
Dancing through the entire career, it is the kind of show that you wish every band could pull out of their hats: heartfelt and fiery, balanced and brilliant. And reading the accompanying booklet, with Anderson expounding on everything from the nature of the band throughout its history to the state of the music business today, this set emerges the kind of retrospective that, again, you wish every band could muster.