By 1970 Jethro Tull had, for better or worse, defined itself. A weird, unglamorous rock band with arty pretensions and a shaggy, flute-playing singer (Ian Anderson) given to manic onstage gesticulations, these guys weren't going to be mistaken for riff-blasting gods like Led Zeppelin or seductive sleazemongers like the Rolling Stones. But their guitar-rock-meets-classical-prog approach was pretty potent to those who like that sort of thing; I know I do.
Tull's performance at the Isle of Wight, as captured and discussed on Eagle Rock Entertainment's new DVD "Nothing Is Easy: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970," showed a new level of ambition and intensity.
The concert footage generally looks and sounds great, though the disc's organization and editing leave much to be desired. A present-day Anderson chimes in gamely about everything under the sun, the disc's creators for some reason giving his disquisitions about organized religion and the importance of a soundcheck equal screen time.
That said, it's stirring for a Tull fan to see the whole set, previously excerpted on 1997's DVD "Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Festival" and on side three of the band's Living in the Past album. Highlights include a wildly discursive rendition of "My God," with a truly unhinged, unaccompanied flute solo by Anderson, the charging rocker "Nothing Is Easy" and a powerful closing medley. You might want to take a snack break during Clive Bunker's interminable drum solo, though. Oh, and entirely too much time is spent discussing the cantankerous hippies who stank up the place.