Live music review: Jethro Tull frontman brings St Albans Cathedral audience to its feet

Ian Anderson with Marc Almond at St Albans Abbey. Photo courtesy of Craig Shepheard

Ian Anderson with Marc Almond at St Albans Abbey. Photo courtesy of Craig Shepheard - Credit: Craig Shepheard

Fans flocked in their hundreds to St Albans Abbey to enjoy the voice behind legendary Jethro Tull, Ian Anderson, along with former Soft Cell singer Marc Almond.

Ian Anderson at St Albans Abbey. Photo courtesy of Craig Shepheard

Ian Anderson at St Albans Abbey. Photo courtesy of Craig Shepheard - Credit: Craig Shepheard

Scottish-born Anderson performed a Christmas Jethro Tull benefit concert at the Abbeu last Friday (11), with all proceeds donated to the iconic, and historic building.

A spokeswoman for the Abbey said it was hoped that in the region of £15,000 had been raised to support the church.

Rock legend Anderson – joined by guests like Almond – won a roar of approval, not to mention a standing ovation, from the 750-strong crowd.

The Abbey was turned into the perfect setting for his concert, as two temporary ‘bars’ were set up for the gig, and pillars were bathed in various colours during an impressive accompanying light show.


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As audience members sipped a pint of real ale or a glass of Prosecco, Anderson got down to business with his take on Christmas carols, along with a range of crowd favourites including Aqualung.

Listening to him sing and play the flute, I was left wondering, ‘how can something sound so soothing, yet be so uplifting?’

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A great show was made better with guests like Almond, dapper in black from head to toe, who was also clearly a hit with the crowd as he sang the likes of Say Hello, Wave Goodbye.

But there was more, with the beautiful tones of the Abbey’s own choir adding to the show, and even the church organ was used to kick off some tunes.

A surprise guest was the ‘man who gets flavour’, Loyd Grossman who, it turns out, not only boasts culinary expertise but is also chairman of the Churches Conservation Trust, hence his interest in helping to preserve the likes of our Abbey.

As a bonus, he can sing, and was clearly in his element accompanying Anderson. First, however, he gave a comedic rendition of how to make a Christmas cake, while getting increasingly inebriated – only pretend drunk mind you!

Fans of Almond and Anderson, including Brendon Loy of St Albans, praised the ‘fantastic’ Abbey setting.

Brendon told me: “I never expected to be in a cathedral, drinking beer!”

Die-hard Jethro Tull/Anderson fan of 35 years, Jenny Harvey, who hails from Dunstable, praised the star for enthusiastically ‘evolving’ his music, while – like her – remaining loyal to his earlier hits.

She too praised the novel Abbey setting for the concert.

It was such a great night that if the lively, and likeable, Anderson and co return to St Albans, I would certainly be among the first to book a ticket.

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