This certainly was a name from the past. When Brother-in-Law asked if I fancied going along to see Wishbone Ash in concert, I was initially taken aback that the band was still doing the rounds. Some cursory interweb investigation however brought up the, perhaps inevitable, fact that there was only one member of the band’s iconic Seventies line-up (guitarist Andy Powell) still plying his trade under the name, with the rest of WA relatively recent recruits.
Wishbone Ash was held in great esteem by a number of the rockeratti at school, but I did not really start investigating the band until the mid-1970s. The first two albums I discovered to be both unique if rather patchy affairs, although I could appreciate what all the fuss was about with Argus: WA’s perfect blend of rock, folk and prog embellished with those sumptuous harmonies and twin lead-guitar interplay. Typically for the time the lyrics all seemed a bit Tolkein-ish, although The King Will Come did appear to owe more than a little to the Authorised King James version.
Powell, I remember from Seventies pics used to wear large dark glasses and a baseball cap from under which his sparse blond hair and impressive sideburns poked. These days he is extravagantly shaven headed, almost unrecognisable in fact. I thought he may have seen the joke and walked on stage wearing a CU Jimmy type cap with false hair and sideburns in homage to his past, but perhaps that was unrealistic.
The set opened with Blind Eye with the guitar of Muddy Manninen complementing Powell perfectly. What the Fin (nor any other band member for that matter), could do however was recreate Martin Turner’s vocals. And whilst Powell proved himself to be a more than adequate chanter, what I really missed here were the harmonies, especially on such as Blowin’ Free, The King Will Come and Throw Down The Sword.
Although a deal of the music came from Ash’s early Seventies heyday, this was no plodding exercise in nostalgia, for a significant proportion of the set was given over to more recent recordings. Indeed, afterwards I overheard one member of the audience bemoaning the fact so little of the band’s present release Power of Eternity had been aired.
None of the newer songs dragged I am pleased to relate with one, Eyes Wide Open, particularly impressing. The other tunes I recall being played were Phoenix, Jail Bait, Sometime World, Warrior and (I think) Number The Brave. Standing in the Rain, from 1991 set Strange Affair was another highlight.
The final song of the evening was perhaps a surprising choice; the slightly folksy Ballad of the Beacon. A fine enough closer, but again I was left yearning for those harmonies.
It did set me wondering what the other members of the original line-up were up to these days, and I pondered the possibilities of some original line-up tour in the future. However, it took but a few minutes of further surfing for it to become abundantly clear there is as much chance of Andy Powell and Martin Turner sharing a stage sometime soon, as of me flapping my arms and flying to the moon.
|Photo courtesy of Roj.|
|Photo courtesy of Roj.|