Though I've had numerous chances to see legendary UK act Wishbone Ash over the years, something always came up at the last minute that prevented me from attending any of their local shows. This time however, the band made a stop at the Towne Crier, a small 'supper club/cafe' less than 10 miles from my house, so there was no way I was going to miss it. Still touring in support of 2014's very fine Blue Horizon album (this has been billed 'The Road Warriors' tour), the band played a few selections from that recent release as well as a slew of classics from throughout their extensive catalog.
With a small but intimate gathering of roughly 50 fans (many of whom were enjoying dinner and a few glasses of wine) this was one of the sparsest attended concerts I've been to in a while, but with the size of the venue (seats maybe 100) and the fact that the band played in numerous spots in the tri-state area recently, I wasn't overly surprised. Despite the small crowd, the band seemed to really enjoy themselves and there was a lot of back and forth banter between the audience and leader Andy Powell throughout the set. Newer cuts like "Deep Blues" and the addicting "Way Down South" were mixed in between legendary songs like "The King Will Come", "Warrior", "Throw Down the Sword" (the trio from their classic album Argus) and the incredible instrumental "The Pilgrim", but with such a deep discography, the band are also able to pull out underrated gems such as "Living Proof", "Front Page News", and "Heavy Weather". The incredible twin lead guitar work from Powell and Muddy Manninen dazzled the crowd on "Open Road", and the tight rhythm section of bassist Bob Skeat and drummer Joe Crabtree drove the classic blues rocker "Blowin' Free", one of the bands most beloved songs, and a great vehicle for stunning Powell guitar solos. Speaking of the founder, he was in fine form both vocally and musically, his Cherry Red Gibson Flying V soaring all night alongside Muddy's equally impressive Les Paul attack.
As the show started early at 7:30, most local folks (including myself) were back home by 9:30, so it was a very pleasant evening all around. Wishbone Ash are in my book one of the most underrated bands of the '70s, as not only did they basically create the whole 'twin lead guitar' style, but their ability to blend hard rock, prog, folk, jazz, and blues always kept their music fresh and exciting, and they are still pumping out solid new releases every couple of years. It was such a thrill to finally see them perform live in concert, and I'll be certain to make sure it happens again.
The King Will Come
Throw Down the Sword
Way Down South
Baby What You Want Me to Do
Front Page News
Blowin' Free / Rock Me Baby