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CURVED AIR, MARTIN TURNER'S WISHBONE ASH, ARGENT
London 13 December 2010
A three band
bill for the class of '71 brought about a few warm feelings of deja vu
and occasional moments of spark and inspiration to remind us all just
why we loved this music in the first place.
Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash and Argent filled the Forum with the ghost
of Psychedelic, Prog and Classic Rock, with the latter holding the
ascendancy on a night where long songs and meandering solo's had to be
clipped to fit into a limited time schedule.
To that end,
Curved Air suffered most, particularly with 'Back Street Luv'
being perfunctorily curtailed. Worst still, the startlingly well
preserved Sonja Kristina final arm waving flourish to the front ranks
was lost in the all too sudden stage blackout.
her voice was in fine shape, and with her excellent band led by the
virtuoso electric violinist Paul Sax, she raked over the coals with the
enduring synth led, spacey 'Young Mother', the enduringly superb 'Back
Street Luv' and Sax's exciting reading of Darryl Way's show stopper 'Vivaldi'.
Sonya finished with a startling banshee wail on the climax of
'Properties'. They surely deserved more time.
visibly swelled for MT's Wishbone Ash, who took the stage to a
fine reception. And while a drum and bass heavy mix made for a muddied
rather than exhilarating reprise of their fine back catalogue, Martin's
rock solid bass lines and melodic voice provided the perfect foil for
the twin guitar attack of Ray Hatfield and Danny Wilson.
'Warrior' and 'Throw Down the Sword' enjoyed weighty reprises and by the
time of the spiky 'Living Proof' and the punchy 'Jailbait' they really
hit their stride. MTWA got a great deserved reception for their razor
And so to
Argent who with a palpable sense of anticipation - make that a 35 year
hiatus- hit the stage with the hard riffing 'Its Only Money'.
an Argent show is like going back to pre-punk times when solos
were the integral part of a song and harmony singing was a valued
element. More than that, Argent brought back to centre stage a sense of
grandeur and via Russ Ballard, the art of the grand gesture.
Russ Ballard and Rod Argent in the ranks, the band boasts two heavyweight songwriters of our time, and given the excellent musicianship
it's hard to pick faults with the band.
tonight was an exercise in both Ballard and Argent reclaiming a handful
of their commercially successful songs, from 'Liar' covered by Three Dog
Night to 'God Gave Rock & Roll To You' (Kiss) and of course 'She's Not
There' and 'I Don't Believe In Miracles' (The Zombies and Colin
duly aired but the latter brace possibly lacked the breathy presence of
Blunstone who looked on from the audience.
For the rest
they made the most of the rocking 'Rollin On' (dedicated to Argent's
late piano playing nonagenarian father), got away with the bluesy 'Sweet
Mary' and made the most of 'Be Free' only to be pegged back by
'Rejoice', which lumbered a little under its own weight.
Argent gave as good as they got and after the band reprised their big
hitters including the powerful 'Hold Your head Up' they duly received a
As with all
three bands tonight it was more of triumph of nostalgia than a cutting
edge return. But for the cheering multitudes the enjoyable flashback
probably sounded just as vibrant and essential as all those years ago.