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I went to church last Saturday. This is unusual

I went to church last Saturday. This is unusual for me. Truth to tell I went to see a concert in a church and it was not your usual Christmas concert.

Pictures and images of Ian Anderson standing on one leg playing the flute, leading the group Jethro Tull are pretty familiar. He is now in his 60’s, still very energetic and he and his band of musicians have recently completed a world tour (over 100 performances), which is centred on his latest album ‘Thick As A Brick 2’. He is passionate about music and loves to perform. He is a superb lyricist, raconteur and along with the entire band, a first rate musician. He does not need the money. This is not about a band reforming to help the bank balance. He has, since 1968, never stopped.

In recent years Ian has set time aside at Christmas to perform in cathedrals and churches around the UK to raise funds for their restoration and upkeep. The motivation, I believe, is more to do with the preservation of remarkable buildings rather than supporting organised religion. After all this is the man who wrote;

‘The bloody church of England, in chains of history, invites your earthly presence at the vicarage for tea’.

It was Canterbury and Salisbury Cathedrals last year and Newcastle Cathedral and St. Brides, Fleet Street this year. St. Brides was the first venue for this initiative in 2008 and last Saturday Mr. Anderson and crew were there again. The concert takings are destined to help restore the fantastic spire which the Reverend George Pitcher our Master of Ceremonies described rather rudely as ‘ that dilapidated …….. above my head’.

The church was full and the concert was great. To begin the band was introduced and the music began. I could hear a flute but not see the player until Ian came strolling down the aisle, something he also did later – moving around the church and being very close to and obviously comfortable with the audience. My wife remarked that she could have pinched his … This man has played at stadiums and festivals around the world, sold 70 to 80 million albums, at one time he was a laird in Scotland where he established a salmon farm, he has an MBE, Ivor Novello and Grammy awards and a couple of honorary doctorates and in the middle of playing some quite complicated music, my wife wanted to goose him!


The concert programme included quiet bits, instrumentals, Christmassy sections, loud rock numbers, a guest appearance from Marc Almond (Soft Cell) and readings and prayers. For me this was the start of Christmas.

Ian Anderson is a very shrewd businessman and he has become wealthy from very ‘umble beginnings, as a result of following his passion. If you have a passion and there is the chance that you can build your life and income around it, seriously think about it. It will be full on but you could achieve so much and if you don’t try you will regret it.

Richard Glinn, Marketing and Membership Manager

  • About the Author
    Richard Glinn

    Richard Glinn

    Former Marketing Manager