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Floral Pavilion, New Brighton, 27 October 2012
Some may be
wary, or weary, of Wishbone Ash. Only Andy Powell remains from the original line-up
and their earnest board-treading means that there is a good chance
you'll see them playing live in the UK each year. A nasty sort of
inertia could set in.
Powell should be celebrated for almost single-handedly keeping the true
spirit of the 'Ash' alive since the late seventies.
done it his way but – as he demonstrated in the plush surroundings of
the Floral Pavilion – the band are never complacent and are still
pushing the envelope with current album 'Elegant Stealth', arguably
their best for a while.
the 'Elegant Stealth Live' tour as often happens only a handful of the new
tracks were actually played. I can never really understand that. But a
band that starts with 'The King Will Come' is making a supreme statement
of confidence at the very outset and in truth, if anything, it got
better after that.
To be frank
Wishbone Ash - forty years on - are still one of the best exponents of
twin guitar harmony, both Muddy Manninen and Andy Powell completely
complementary, and the Finn also playing occasional lap steel.
is somewhat inanimate his playing is studied and - like Powell – always
executed with passion. The resulting glorious noise makes a huge
statement for heritage rock and a shining example to any less skilful
wannabes. This is the real deal.
Add in some
wonderfully tight rhythm from the always sprightly Bob Skeat and Joe
Crabtree and the Wishbone Ash blueprint is complete.
is always going to be a challenge with such a vast repertoire to draw
upon but tonight's show did cover a fair amount of ground nevertheless.
And it was
maybe no coincidence that eight of the tracks feature on the newly
reissued 1995 Geneva gig (a wonderful recording but with a different
line-up). I am sure the band will save any real setlist surprises for
the forthcoming 'Ashcon' in Chesterfield (3 November).
cranked up a notch in the second half with 'Engine Overheat' from the
band's 1982 album 'Twin Barrels Burning' and rounded off with a prog-tinged
'Phoenix' replete with aleatoric guitar effects adding to the drama. And
as if to punctuate the band's enduring influence I'm sure we had a reference to
the Allman Brothers' 'Jessica' in the encore.
measure of a good heritage gig is that it leaves you wanting to explore
more of the band's back catalogue. But it left me wanting to cherish Andy Powell even more.
The King Will Come 2. Throw Down The Sword 3. Can't Go It Alone 4.
Living Proof 5. In The Skin 6. Open Road 7. Sometime World 8. Warm Tears
9. Invisible Thread 10. Jail Bait 11. Engine Overheat 12. Phoenix
Encore: 13. Hometown 14. Blowin' Free
interview edit, and
photos by David Randall
Powell chats about Wishbone Ash in our "Guitarists" series, Get Ready to
ROCK! Radio, Sunday 4 November at 21:00 (GMT)