Interview: Guitarist Martin Barre to play Jethro Tull favorites at Celebrity Theatre show in Phoenix
Courtesy of Martin Barre

Guitarist Martin Barre has released a string of well-received solo albums over the years, including his most recent effort, Back to Steel, and he’s played with lots of top tier performers like Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. But Barre’s main gig for more than 40 years was as lead guitarist for the seminal English rock band Jethro Tull, so it’s only natural that today with the Martin Barre Band he plays a lot of Tull favorites.

Barre is currently on tour and his set list has been including Tull classics like “Minstrel in the Gallery,” “Locomotive Breath,” an excerpt of “Thick as a Brick” and perhaps the most enduring of all Jethro Tull songs, “Aqualung.” And for the first time, Barre is bringing his show to the American West Coast and swinging over to Arizona for a Sept. 22 performance at Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. We had a chance to check in by email with Barre to find out what else he’s up to; his commentary below is given exclusively to AXS.com.

AXS: Your latest album Back to Steel has been out a little over a year now. Have any of the songs changed at all as to the way you play them live, now that they’ve been lived in a bit? 

Martin Barre: The tracks off Back to Steel work well on stage in their original format, and the outro of the title track leaves room for a good improv opportunity.

AXS: You’ve also been teasing on your Facebook page that you’re working on a new album. Can you tell us anything about where you’re at with that?

MB: The theme of having live tracks on the album will go forward to next year’s CD.  I have recorded eight tracks so far but I will probably write another three or four songs. They should all be good for the live performance.

AXS: A deluxe expanded version of the Jethro Tull album Songs from the Wood has recently been released and in the accompanying commentary you mention that the album is one of Tull’s best. Is there a song or part of a song on the album that you’re particularly proud of?

MB: Songs from the Wood was a really strong album for Tull and it was a fun time in the studio. I recorded “Fire at Midnight” for my instrumental CD Away with Words as I love that song.

AXS: You’ve got a brief six-day break between the West Coast leg and the East Coast leg of your current US tour. Are you going to make a quick trip home to the UK during the break?

MB: We won’t have time to return to the UK but we use FaceTime a lot to keep in touch with the family!

AXS: Early next year you’ll once again be sailing on the Cruise to the Edge with acts like Yes, Carl Palmer, Gong, Focus and many other luminaries of the prog world. What are you most looking forward to about the festival at sea?

MB: Cruise to the Edge is a great opportunity to meet fans and musician friends as well. I always prefer the public spaces and restaurants as the fans are very respectful, polite and fun to meet. I always know a handful of musicians and enjoy catching up on gossip. It’s a great concept and I love the cruise!

AXS: Your current tour includes a Sept. 22 stop at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, which is an intimate theater in the round with a revolving stage. Have you ever performed in this type of venue before?

MB: Playing in the round is something I haven’t done for a while. I will make it work, as I love communicating with the audience. I hope the sound system covers 360 degrees.

Follow Martin Barre here.