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MARTIN TURNER'S WISHBONE ASH
Boom Boom Club, Sutton, Surrey 25 February 2010
For the past
four years, us fans of enduring British institution Wishbone Ash are
either being spoiled or forced to take sides, depending on your point of
Two acts are
now bearing the band's name, just to confuse promoters and more casual
fans who may have lost track since their heyday.
It is ironic
that Wishbone always had a rather safe and bland public image compared
to their hell-raising peers, and yet there is now a raging bitterness
between the two camps.
I have great respect for Andy Powell's dedication in keeping the
official Wishbone flag flying through thick and thin by virtue of years
of constant touring, not to mention a mixed bag of new product from time
Yet I have
to say that - musically - Martin Turner's outfit feels closer in spirit
to the classic line-up of the band, and not only through Martin's
distinctive singing and bass lines.
Guitarists Ray Hatfield and Danny Willson have grown in confidence over
the years and are more content to improvise rather than replicate the
songs as originally recorded - check out their interplay on the closing
guitar solo to Throw Down the Sword as proof. Dave Wagstaff's drumming,
best seen on Vas Dis and Phoenix, was subtle and minimalist as required.
After extensively touring with an Argus set, this two part set before a
packed house in Sutton United FC's clubhouse, was more broadly based.
Rest assured though that classic was still well represented with The
King Will Come getting the night off to a great start and a trilogy of
Warrior, Throw Down the Sword and Blowin' Free closing the main part of
However the high point of the first set was a quartet of numbers from
Argus' follow-up Wishbone Four: a stirring Ballad of the Beacon, with
Ray sharing vocals with Martin; Rock n Roll Widow, with Danny doing a
fine job singing and some exhilarating slide guitar from Ray; Sorrel
with plenty of twin lead guitar passages, and a dreamy Everybody Needs a
Friend with another great solo from Ray. It did make me and fellow
Wishbone fans present reflect what an underappreciated album it is and
probably overdue a remastered reissue.
Highlights of the second set included a great version of Errors of My
Ways, and a rocking You See Red with Danny again helping out on the
vocals. Time and Space (recorded around the time of 1978's No Smoke
Without Fire, but somehow left off the record) was a pleasant surprise
for the first encore before the more usual rocking out finale of Living
Proof and Jailbait.
Martin was in good voice and experimented during the gig with a
Rickenbacker bass instead of his trademark Gibson Firebird. His dry wit
was also in evidence (referring to the rarely played Ships in the Sky as
'chips and a pie') though I couldn't help noticing similarities with the
delivery (if not the hairstyle) of comedian Andy 'Mock the Week'
My biggest gripe about this gig, which performance-wise outdid the
band's 100 Club show a fortnight earlier, was the cabaret style seats at
the front, or more specifically those occupying them who seemed to have
long since forgotten how to rock'n'roll. It made it harder for the band
to feed off the positive vibe of a crowd and Martin was only half joking
when he referred to them as ‘zimmer rockers', just before finally
getting them to clap along to Blowin Free.
Nevertheless this was another exhilarating evening reliving the sounds
of one of Britain's classic bands, just as they were intended to be.
by Andy Nathan
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