Thick as a Brick II provides listeners with the fate of the central character that was introduced in the original album. Anderson focused on five plausible outcomes for the life of Gerald Bostick, whom we first met at the age of eight. The alternate endings, mimicking real life, allow listeners to choose their own ending, dependent upon what paths they envision Gerald taking.
The evening opened with a short film which re-introduced Mr. Bostick. And then he was there, standing on the side of the stage. Waiting patiently for his role to begin, Ian Anderson escorted us through his progressive rock musical mystery.
Anderson is a true showman, full of energy and tomfoolery. He stomped around like a rock and roll pirate, tearing the house down with his flute and enthusiastic performance, thereby successfully bringing the scenes of his rock opera to life. He did provide his audience with his trademark- he rocked the sh*t out of his flute, even obliging fans with the flamingo stance of standing on one leg while playing it.
Anderson jumped around and led his band like the pied piper. There were five musicians accompanying Anderson, two of whom were childhood friends of the artist. Members included keyboardist and accordion player extraordinaire John O'Hara, bassist David Goodier, guitarist Florian Ophale, Scott Hammond on drums, plus special guest violinist Anna Phoebe who appears briefly 'live' via skype. The band was tight and totally in synch, even down to their choreography.
The rock opera style event played out as such. Props were used sparingly, exaggerated facial expressions had their place. The inclusion of multi-media elements kept it from getting stale. The pace of the show itself never lacked. At one point it did get a little Tommy, but it was rescued by Anderson. He refused to allow Thick as a Brick to rest on its laurels. Incorporating multi-media, onstage antics, and throwing traditional theatrical elements into the show saved it from turning into the typical reunion tour.
The musicians received a standing ovation as introductions ensued. After the final notes were played, Anderson led the band in a deep bow. That, too, was done with much bravado. They exited. After the long standing ovation, they returned, with Anderson following, shimmying back into place.
Full steam ahead as the band ripped into the encore- "Locomotive Breath" screamed through the crowd, causing it to erupt. It was a full-throttle end to an ambitious show.
The million dollar question is did Thick as a Brick II live up to Part I? In cases such as these, there is usually no contest, the original often fares better. Although word on the street [Woodward] is that "Part II is better." Surprise!
Decide for yourself, check out Thick as a Brick Part I & Part II.
A complete list of North American & European 2012 tour dates and venues listed here.