tull

Ian Anderson performs in "The Life and Times of Jethro Tull." (handout)

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Move over “Tommy.” There’s a new rock opera making the rounds.

Ian Anderson, 68, and his legendary British progressive art rock group, Jethro Tull, brought their take on the genre, “The Life and Times of Jethro Tull,” to the Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino on Sunday night.

The band is named after an 18th century English agriculturalist who invented the seed drill, and the opera pays tribute to him.

It tells the story of Tull’s life, reimagined with video clips as if it were in the near future. One clip shows a young Tull and a woman both singing along with the eccentric vocalist/flutist Anderson, who hails from Edinburgh, Scotland.

There was more singing and less instrumental play than is typical of an Anderson show.

As his usual animated self, the frontman hopped up and down on one leg along the stage playing the flute, an unusual instrument for a rock group’s lead vocalist.

The band included bassist David Goodier, keyboardist/conductor John O’Hara, guitarist Florian Opahle and drummer Scott Hammond.

The song list spanned new and old — including a few classics from the Grammy Award-winning group, divided into two one-hour sets, with an intermission and encore.

Some of the lyrics were slightly rewritten by Anderson to better tell the tale. His lyrics have always been profound and surreal. And there was a modern twist to the rock opera, with global warming’s impact on agriculture referred to in videos.

The opening song, “Heavy Horses,” was a folky tune that featured the female on video playing violin.

The opera turned to hard rock as Anderson played mandolin on his band’s most famous song, “Aqualung,” and the guitarist shined.

Anderson was back on flute for “With You There to Help Me.” “Back to the Family,” the lengthy “Farm on the Freeway,” “Prosperous Pasture,” “Fruits of Frankenfield,” and another folk number, 1977’s “Songs From the Wood,” wrapped up the opening set.

The second set opened with “And the World Feeds Me.” “Living in the Past,” from the 1972 album of the same name, just missed out making the Top 10 on the music charts. There were film clips of vintage Jethro Tull and Anderson with long hair and a beard.

Anderson switched back to mandolin on “Jack-in-the-Green,” and returned on flute for “The Witch’s Promise,” “Weathercock,” and the toe-tapping “Stick, Twist, Bust.”

After playing mandolin on “Cheap Day Return,” Anderson performed on harmonica for “A New Day Yesterday” from 1969.

Following “The Turnstile Gate” was another popular tune, “Locomotive Breath,” that has an enticing keyboard introduction and is also from the “Aqualung” album. A video of a moving train was shown.

The encore was “Requiem and Fugue” (with snippet of Bourrée) that showcased the organ.

STEPHEN PETERSON can be reached at 508-236-0377 or at speterson@thesunchronicle.com.