30 October 2015

Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash were magnificent at the Boom Boom Club

I like the music of Wishbone Ash and I do not mind which variant of the bands plays it.

It so happens that most of my recent encounters have been with the Martin Turner variant but that has only been because of scheduling, as a simple rule I will see either band if they play somewhere that I can get to easily. My biggest problem has been getting to see either band, not in choosing one over the other.

The Boom Boom Club in Sutton (it's part of the football club) is a place that I have been to a few times and while the travel, one short and one long bus ride with a bit of walking too, is not easy it is not that hard either so it was a no-brainer to go and see Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash there.

There was already a good crowd there when I arrived and I was pleased to see that there was no seating in front of the stage as there had been for some gigs that I had been to there. That meant that once I had claimed a pint of something reasonable from the bat at the far end I was able to ease my way to the front to claim a spot next to the stage close to the centre.

There was no support band, I prefer it that way, and I did not have long to wait for Martin Turner ex Wishbone Ash to hit the stage.

Obviously most of us were there to hear some of the classics and, to their credit, Martin Turner had the courage to start with a new song from the recent album Written in the Stars which they were touring to promote. The good news was that the new songs had the same feel as the old ones. Lawyers may argue over what is and what is not Wishbone Ash in name but this was clearly Wishbone Ash in spirit.

Making it so was the three guitar sound from Martin Turner, Misha Nikolic and Danny Willson ably supported by Tim Brown  on drums.

The familiar Wishbone Ash sound was complimented by some familiar Wishbone Ash songs to the delight of all. I did not make any notes of the songs they played as I was too busy listening to them but I did manage to take a photo of the set list and, more importantly, to decode it. For example, Blowing Free was listed as BLOW 3. It is a sign of the heritage of the band that shorthand will do and that the set list was written in large capitalised text. Space Ritual do the same.

Other classic songs included The King Will Come (also from Argus), Blind Eye and Pilgrim, and these were joined by some more new ones that also sounded like old ones.

The passionate and energetic onstage antics meant that the band needed a break in the middle which I welcomed too as an opportunity to grab another pint. I did not mind the rest from my mild movement either (I'll not presume to call it dancing).

Another comparison with Space Ritual struck me, they also rely heavily on their heritage but are confident enough in themselves to take this on and to dare to be different from the "official" band that they could otherwise be (unfairly) accused of being a tribute too. Another reason why Space Ritual and Wishbone Ash are on my must-see list.

History and comparisons have their place but, in the end, the band has to be judged on their performance and Martin Turner ex Wishbone Ash performed magnificently. There was much to enjoy in the songs and the way that they were played and I particularly enjoyed the joyful interplay between  the two lead guitarists standing on opposite sides of the stage.

More evenings like that please.

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