WISHBONE ASH, Exeter Phoenix, 27 October 2019
Someone once urged young guns to go for it, but older hands still have the chops, the licks and the songs to show the whippersnappers how it’s done. With the ink barely dry on their new contract with SPV, Wishbone Ash are working their way across the UK with a thirty-plus date tour; not bad when you consider they’re celebrating their fiftieth anniversary and that band leader (and only survivor from the original days) Andy Powell will have seventy candles on his next birthday cake.
After a short warm-up set by The Goundhogs Powell and his colleagues Mark Abrahams, Bob Skeat and Joe Crabtree took to the stage for the first of two one-hour sets. With over twenty studio albums recorded over the years – and one more getting ready to put in its appearance – the band weren’t short of material to draw on. In the event, fifteen well-crafted songs were aired on the night from the expected (‘The King Will Come’ & ‘Throw Down The Sword’ from ‘Argus’), the unknown (‘We Stand As One’, as rather tasty morsel from the upcoming new release) and the downright obvious encore.
They may have had their ups and downs over the years, but Wishbone Ash are tight, exciting and a joy to watch. The interplay between Powell and fellow guitarist Abrahams, the interplay between Powell and bassist Skeat, the metronomic time-keeping of Crabtree – together with some beautiful fills – and some fabulous guitar work made this less a gig and more a showcase as to how to deliver quality classic rock music. The packed house loved it, the band seemed to be having a lot of fun (Abrahams appears to have a perpetual smile tattooed on his face) and, naturally, ‘Blowin’ Free’ wrapped things up. Front page news once more...
© John Tucker October 2019