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Opening with 1972's “Living in the Past,” Jethro Tull front man Ian Anderson set the tone for the evening by working the stage, giving equal attention to both sides of the theater. And the crowd responded enthusiastically. Moving on, the English prog-rock band launched into a brief version of “Thick as a Brick.” I say brief because even at around 15 minutes it was much shorter than the 44-minute opus released in early 1972 as a follow-up to the band’s biggest hit Aqualung.

Anderson and company didn't quite get around to the whole Aqualung album, but we'll forgive them. (I think only a few diehards such as myself noticed the two missing tracks.) They made up for it in one bunch, with a spectacular acoustic performance of “Cheap Day Return,” “Mother Goose,” and “Wond'ring Aloud.” Drummer Doane Perry lugged a slimmed-down kit — small kick, two cymbals, and a couple bongos — to the front of the stage. And there’s no sweeter-sounding acoustic guitar than Ian Andersons. Even live, when you expect the sound to be less than studio quality, it sounded album-perfect. “Hymn 43” also got special treatment, starting as a laidback, acoustic take, but then it morphed into the hard-rock beast we all loved. Impressive, as was “Bourée,” which started as a jazzy lounge number but sure didn't end that way.

The band delivered a fitting tribute to the legendary songwriting of Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull. Aqualung remains a force in the rock-music world after 40 years and will be for 40 more.

  • Concert: Jethro Tull
  • Date: June 12
  • Venue: Harrah's Open Sky Theater
  • Seats: 8th row, center, floor
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