It has been some years since we last saw Wishbone Ash. We both thought at the time that they seemed to be ‘coasting’, but recent unanimous approval to the introduction of Mark Abrahams on guitar made us think again.
First up for a 45 minute set of bluesy rock is Felix Rabin. The young French guitarist has a bass and drums in tow and includes ‘Crossroads’ and ‘Voodoo Chile’ in a mainly originals set. A decent reception from an attentive audience. Apart from, unfortunately, three blokes who talked all the way through. They got so ridiculously loud during the main attraction that we had to move. Why do these people f**king come? Why don’t they go outside to talk? Why weren’t they f**king strangled at birth?
So Mr Powell and Co come on and are straight in to ‘Blind Eye’, with Martin Turner’s composition ‘Come in from the Rain’ in hot pursuit. The more recent ‘Deep Blues’ was a good example of how they are up a couple of notches from last time. No, a LOT of notches. ‘Way down South’ featured Mark on a great and economical solo, perfectly illustrating the ‘fewer is bluer, more is a bore’ ethos re the number of notes per second on the fretboard.
Mr Powell introduces Mark as the one who ‘kicks my ass every night’. And as David Crosby sings ‘It’s been a long time coming…’!! ‘Lifeline’ from ‘Just Testing’ is a fans’ favourite and it precedes a healthy chunk of ‘Argus’, namely ‘The King Will Come’, ‘Warrior’, ‘Throw down the Sword’ and the only acoustic number ‘Leaf and Stream’.
‘F.U.B.B.’ has been in the set for a long time and a heavy blast on Mark’s Strat heralds the arrival of ‘Standing in the Rain’. ‘Jailbait’, ‘Sometime World’ and ‘Blowin’ Free’ bring the main set to a close and the crowd bring them back for one of their best post-Ted songs ‘Persephone’. But not before some sound problems which AP doesn’t get fased by.
So, a very good night. They have changed the set around from the pre-UK gigs and seem keen to change at least one song every night. No ‘Phoenix’,no ‘Living Proof’ and not a lot from their last studio lp.
Mr Powell certainly seems to have refound his mojo, due in no small part to the change to a much more animated guitar partner. Tomorrow’s gig in Mark’s home town should be a stormer.
Re Mark’s joining, does anybody out there know why Mr Manninen seemed to ‘leave’, almost without warning? According to his web-site ‘he became the main songwriter’. Is this true and, if so, was it a factor in his departure? Mmmm…
The latest in the live ‘Roadworks’ series is selling in bucketloads at the gigs. The first to feature Mark, it’s pretty good.