Tull veteran ploughs on

Martin Barre
Martin Barre

As the second longest serving member of Jethro Tull, Martin Barre once played to a 75,000 crowd at Shea Stadium in New York. He has also performed at huge festivals such as the Isle of Wight.

Binoculars or large screens will not be required when he turns up in The Backroom at The Greystones in Greystones Road next Tuesday.

This time the guitarist - voted 25th best solo in the USA and 20th in the UK for Aqualung - will be fronting his own six-piece band.

It won’t be that big a culture shock for him, though.

“I have always played small venues when I have had a solo band or done guest stuff,” he explains. “It’s a real gig, a personal experience. You can see all the people and see their reactions. I really like playing in that type of venue.”

At the same time, Martin is promising “a big stage show. There is a lot of stuff going on which makes it a great night.”

It extends to reworkings of quite a few Tull classics, such as Teacher and Minstrel In The Gallery.

This is more the blues and rock end of the group in which Martin took over from Mick Abrahams in 1969, selected by Ian Anderson, and appearing on all of the albums apart from the first.

“We take the flute out of Jethro Tull, particularly with the early music,” he says.

“We want to give Tull fans a good dose of what they want, but we want it to be a nice surprise. We don’t want it to be the obvious stuff. We don’t do Aqualung. It’s been overplayed live.

“We take apart some of the Tull tracks and give them a new lease of life. They are not quite what they are before, but they are not completely altered. It’s a fresh show.”

Martin is ploughing his own furrow while Ian Anderson pursues Thick As A Brick 2.“What I am doing is at the opposite end of the spectrum to what he is doing. I’m doing the heavier side of Jethro Tull.”

The tour will feature a couple of songs from the Martin’s fourth solo album, Away With Words, which further demonstrates his mellower, acoustic leanings and his virtuosity on not only the guitar, but also bouzouki, mandolin, bass, flute and bass clarinet.

He has his own studio at home in Devon and says: “I love writing music and I love arranging music.”

The tour takes him to Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland and France and then there’s the prospect next year of a tour by a four-piece Martin Barre acoustic band.

So where does that leave Jethro Tull?

“The door isn’t locked, but at the moment it is closed. I think Ian is pretty happy and so am I.

“I have got a lot of enthusiasm for my new album and the band I have got now.”