Genesis, Men At Work, Canned Heat,  and of course, the mother of them all, Jethro Tull – rock bands who utilise flute are a rare and powerful phenomenon.

Formed in late 1967, the musical heavyweights began as an experimental blues-rock outfit, playing the London circuit and quickly building a following with their unconventional sound and on-stage eccentricities. Tired of being a third-rate guitarist among greats like Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, front-man Ian Anderson took up the flute as a way to stand out from the crowd, releasing their first full length album This Was to widespread acclaim in 1968, having only played the instrument for six months.

Around The World Live begins in the Isle of Wight, England, two years later in 1970. By this time blues-rock had given way to Jethro Tull’s now trademark fusion of blues, jazz, folk, classical and rock. It is impossible to peel your eyes away from Anderson’s frenetic energy, standing on one leg to play and rolling his eyes wildly, licking his lips like a man three days into a furious speed bender.

Sporting his usual attire of the period, brightly coloured tights with a ragged overcoat, like some wandering troubadour, Anderson holds the audience captivated with the juxtaposition of his irreverent banter and powerful compositions like ‘My God’ which later appeared on the seminal 1971 album Aqualung.

As the film moves through the years and the various corners of the world; Tampa, Munich, Dortmund, Santiago, Montreaux and many more from 1970 to 2005, we see the ever-changing nature of this all-star band, with over 25 lineup changes over the 35 years of touring – the only real consistency lying in Anderson’s spectacular performances and the virtuoso guitar playing of long-time member Martin Barre, who provides a driving fusion of rhythm and lead work with gritty, typically British guitar tone.

While the surrounding band members seem to have mellowed with time and untold reconfigurations, Anderson and Barre exude all the passion and intensity they had in 1970, leaping around the stage, less drug-addled but almost as weird, though Anderson’s vocal range is noticeably diminished.  Ragged coats and codpieces have given way to a sort of ambiguous world-music inspired fashion sense, part medieval, part African, though the songs maintain their curious blend of youthful angst and joyous observation.

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