Reading has always had a prevalent music scene, and historically has had a real soft-spot for rock bands over the years, from Reading Rock and many other independent venues, of which many still exist today.

With our town's cultural history, it should be no surprise that legendary progressive-rock band Jethro Tull have announced they will be returning to the stage at The Hexagon theatre this month.

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Ahead of the legendary rock band's return to Reading, we spoke to Ian Anderson, singer and flautist of Jethro Tull.

How does it feel to be getting back on stage post-lockdown?

"For a lot of artists, it's been an incredibly heady and a wonderful experience to reunite with fans and perform on stage. I think it goes without saying there is a huge relief that you can get back on stage and pick up those pieces, not just for yourself but for the band and crew and all the other people in the performance industry.

"It's only fairly recently that we've 'crawled out from under the bed' - it's obvious the pandemic has not gone away, and therefore we have to bear in mind there's a lot of stuff we have to think about and do to make things safe.

"It's not only about our personal safety, but if any of the band or crew get it, that's the end of the tour, so we have a whole set of protocols we have to follow."

How does it feel to be playing the Hexagon again?

"We've played in Reading I don't know how many times since around 1960. The Hexagon is one of those places that, if you get me so far as the back stage door and blindfold me, I will probably be able to find my dressing room."

Have you noticed any changes to the crowds over the years?

"It really depends where we are playing. I don't like national stereotypes, but in Brazil and Italy I'd expect to see a lot more younger people in the audience.

"Outdoor shows it attract people in their teens and twenties who have become infatuated or interested in classic and progressive rock.

"In the US our audience is more uniformly people in their fifties, sixties and into their seventies, and that applies to indoor venues in the UK too.

"There are other situations where you look out and what you see are younger people, and the oldies tend to be further back and closer to the Portaloos, no longer having bladders of steel."

Reading Chronicle:

Recently you announced publicly that you have been diagnosed with COPD. Has this made any changes to how you perform?

"I was beginning to get concerned about six or seven years ago, and went for some tests in 2017. To be frank, it is mild COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and Asthma, but nonetheless its not going to put itself right.

"Over the many many years of performing on stage, we used what lighting directors call 'haze' or smoke machines. It's the same material used in vaping, and I've been sucking this sh*t in and out, on and off, for 50 years, so I would put down my condition pretty firmly to that.

"It's been more than 30 years since I last smoked a cigarette, and I was ok until about five or six years ago but if you are inhaling this stuff it does end up impairing your lung capacity.

"I have had to retrain myself to a degree to maximise my lung capacity and work around it, and think more carefully on when and how I breathe.

"I don't think I'm concerned as long as im able to keep performing but I'm doing okay now. Sooner or later it will become much more difficult to sing and play than it is now, whether it's two or 10 years from now I have no idea, but 20 years from now I can safely say I will either be pushing up daisies or writing my autobiography."

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How would you describe the latest unreleased album, The Zealot Gene?

"It's a project that began in 2016, and in 2017 we recorded seven backing tracks, completing four of those songs shortly after, but we had another busy year in 2018 as we had released a string quartet album, so I stopped working on the new band album, and given all the tours I was pretty tied up.

"I thought I'd get back to it and finish it off, but when Covid came on, I lived in hope for a year that things would calm down and I'd be able to get back together in the studio, but clearly wasn't something any of us would be happy about.

"I decided to finish it on my own, and I invited the other musicians with contributions they sent to me, recorder in their own homes, so the final five tracks of the album were put together in a slightly less-than-live setting, but were finished a few months ago.

"Unfortunately we have to wait until the release date in January."

Jethro Tull will be performing at The Hexagon, Reading, on Saturday, September 18. For more information and to book your tickets, visit