Wishbone Ash Spectrum Leisure Complex Willington 7th December 1985

Wishbone Ash Spectrum Leisure Complex Willington 7th December 1985
wishbine85tixI’d lost touch with Wishbone Ash. It had been 4 years since I saw them perform at Newcastle City Hall on the Number the Brave tour. During that time much had happened. In 1982 the band released “Twin Barrels Burning”, an album which was quite heavy metal, capitalising on the popularity of the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) movement. “Twin Barrels Burning” was their highest charting album for several years, reaching No. 22 in the UK chart. Bassist Trevor Bolder left the group to rejoin Uriah Heep in 1983, and was replaced by bassist/vocalist Mervyn Spence from Trapeze. The heavy metal groove continued and in 1985 Wishbone Ash released “Raw to the Bone” on NWOBHM label Neat Records; their first lp not to make the charts.
WishboneRawI read somewhere that Wishbone Ash were playing at The Spectrum Leisure Complex in Willington. I didn’t know where Willington was, but a quick look at a map showed me that it lay just outside Durham city, and wasn’t too far away. So I went with a mate to see what Wishbone Ash were up to. The Spectrum Leisure complex had recently opened and was starting to host concerts. Captain Sensible appeared there the week before the Wishbone concert. The gig was held in a sports hall and was not well attended. The line-up of the band was Andy Powell, Laurie Wisefield, Mervyn Spence and Steve Upton. I remember being very impressed by Spence, who handled the front man role previously held by Martin Turner well, and took lead vocals on a lot of the songs. I think they may have started with “The King Will Come” and the set was a mix of classics and heavier tracks from their recent albums. I am pretty sure that they played “Pheonix”. We stood close to the stage, right in front of the band, and the sound was crisp and loud. It was great to see Wishbone Ash again, and the new line-up did the songs justice.
A couple of weeks after this gig, Laurie Wisefield announced his decision to quit Wishbone Ash. He was replaced by ex-Suzi Quatro guitarist Jamie Crompton. A month or so later, Mervyn Spence also quit the band, and was replaced by Andy Pyle (ex-Blodwyn Pig, Savoy Brown, and Chicken Shack).
It was three years until I saw Wishbone Ash again, and I’ll write about that tomorrow.

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