Classic Legends of Rock and Folk Newcastle City Hall 1st March 2014
Martin Turner plays the music of Wishbone Ash
So the Classic Legends of Rock (and Folk) came to The City Hall, the spiritual home of rock in the North East of England. This was an evening of mixed emotions for me. I’ve seen all of these bands headline the City Hall to packed houses. It was great to see them back on the big City Hall stage again, but also a little sad to see such a small crowd (I would guess there were a few hundred people there) which filled the front part of the stalls (the circle wasn’t open). So I enjoyed seeing the bands perform last night, but the memories of 40 years ago, when I stood in a capacity crowd cheering and singing along to “Blowin’ Free” (or on even earlier tours “Jailbait”), “Back Street Luv” or “Lay Down” are forever etched in my mind, and bring back memories of just how great all these acts were; back in those days which are now beginning to seem such a long time ago (which is because it was a long time ago 🙂 ). Anyway, back to the show.
Strawbs were on stage when I arrived just after the advertised start time of 7.30pm. This was the three piece acoustic version, which features David Cousins, Dave Lambert and Chas Cronk, all of whom have been with the band since 1973, and in Cousins’ case from the very start. Their short 30 minute set featured (among a few others songs) the excellent “Hangman and the Papist” (Cousins commented on the fact that old band-mate Rick Wakeman is coming to the City Hall soon, and recalled how they played this track on Top of the Pops during a period when the show featured a regular “album spot”), “Ghosts” and finished with the hit single “Lay Down”. A few minutes to change the gear and Curved Air appeared on stage. The first track was instrumental, with Sonja Kristina joining the band for “It Happened Today”. The latest version of Curved Air features Sonja (vocals), fellow original member Florian Pilkington-Miksa (drums), Kirby Gregory (guitar), Paul Sax (violin), Chris Harris (bass) and Robert Norton (keyboards). We were treated to the beautiful “Melinda (More or Less)” (a favourite of mine), a couple of new songs, a shortened “Vivaldi” and closer “Back Street Luv”. They were on stage for around an hour.
After a short break, Martin Turner and his band took to the stage. Those of us who follow both Martin’s band and Wishbone Ash (featuring Andy Powell) will know that the outcome of a recent court case means that Martin is no longer allowed to use the name Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash and is hence now touring as Martin Turner plays the music of Wishbone Ash. I’ve seen both bands several times over the past few years; Martin in particular has been touring a lot. Because of this I wasn’t really too bothered about staying for their set; I’d come more to see Curved Air. As it happened, I was really impressed by Martin and his band last night, and staying through to the encore of “Blowin’ Free”. He has assembled a line-up which faithfully recreates the music of classic ’70s Wishbone Ash with himself as front man, vocals and bass; Ray Hatfield and Danny Wilson having the unenviable task of reproducing the twin-guitar sound, which they do amazingly well, and Tim Wilson on drums. The set included well-known Wishbone Ash songs such as “King Will Come”, “Warrior” and “Pheonix” alongside less often played tracks like “Lullaby” from the “Pilgrimage” album and Laurie Wisefield’s “Goodbye Baby Hello Friend”. A great set with a nice mix of songs; Martin and his band deserved headline status last night.
Looking back this morning on the concert last night, I enjoyed seeing all those classic songs performed again, but for me the evening was tinged with a little sadness and a wish that I could turn the clock back and relive the concerts of the early ’70s. Never mind; I’ve just watched “Hangman and the Papist” from Top of the Pops 1971 on YouTube; powerful; amazing stuff; Cousins is wearing a great coat 🙂 .
Is it really 43 years ago..? I couldn’t print my e-ticket at home then.
“Who will be the hangman in the dawn?”
Archive for the ‘Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash’ Category
Classic Legends of Rock and Folk Newcastle City Hall 1st March 2014
Stanley Music Festival Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash
Up until a few years ago, Stanley hosted a very successful annual blues festival, that hosted acts such as Chicken Shack. Funding issues have meant that the festival has not run for a few years. However, this year local organisers have put together a music festival which ran today, on bank holiday Sunday. The headliners were Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash, with support from several local acts. And all for £3! I arrived late in the afternoon and caught the majority of DeeExpus’ set. DeeExpus are a North East prog rock band, and are pretty good too. Their music is classic 70s prog, with flashes of Yes and Wishbone Ash. A local busker took to the stage during the changeover, and sang a few blues songs. However, he left in the huff, as his guitar mike wasn’t working, and he told us that he “had been sabotaged”. There was a little wait before Martin Turner took to the stage, and it started to rain quite heavily. The event was also running late, and quite a number of the crowd left before the headliner started. The rain had stopped by the time Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash opened with “The King will come”. There has been quite a lot of discussion on their respective message boards as to the merits of the two versions of Wishbone Ash. Having seen both acts several times over the past few years, I would say that both bands always deliver and are good value for money. Martin’s band quite clearly set out to deliver versions of the old songs which are as true as possible to the originals, and they do a pretty good job of it. Fraid I was getting cold and wet (and didn’t have my coat on) so I didn’t stay for the whole set, but what I did see was a good mix of old classics, and some lesser known songs, all played well with Martin on good form. Songs I saw were: “Warrior”, followed by “Throw Down the Sword”, “Lady Jay” which I can’t claim to know well and sounded great, “Rock n’ Roll Widow”: a favourite that I haven’t heard for a long time, and “Ballad of the Beacon” which I can’t remember at all. To my shame I left during “Phoenix” (sorry Martin). It’s good that Stanley has a festival again; hope it returns next year.
Classic Legends of Rock Newcastle Tyne Theatre October 28th 2009
Featuring Focus, Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash, The Strawbs
Went along with Will and Norm on Wednesday night for our second dose of Classic Legends Rock. We saw the tour last year in Harrogate; this year it came closer to home at the Newcastle Tyne Theatre. The only change from last year was that the Groundhogs have been replaced by Strawbs. This is sadly because Tony McPhee has recently suffered a stroke, and although reports are that he is recovering well, he is not yet well enough to join the tour.
First up was the Strawbs who delivered a short set of classic folk-rock. Dace Cousins is, as always, the showman of the band delivering the songs with his own very characteristic vocals. After a short break Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash take to the stage. Tonight they deliver the enitre classic Argus album, followed by a great version of Jailbait. Focus keyboard and all-round character Thys Van Leer joins them on organ for one song. I find it hard to decide which of the current versions of Wishbone Ash is truer to the original. In my view they both deliver and are well worth seeing. If anything Martin Turner’s band are closer to the original albums; tonight they could have done with a being a little louder for me. Coincidentally Andy Powell’s Wishbone Ash were playing the night before at Newcastle Academy. I decided to give them a miss this time, but have promised myself that I will catch up with them next time they come to the North East.
Closing the show was Focus. Last time I thought their set was a little too long and some of the solos a little too drawn out. Tonight I felt it was just the right length. Thys is as eccentric as ever and plays his Hammond organ wonderfully. The guitarist is spot-on; musically this band can’t be faulted. We get great versions of House of the King, Hocus Pocus and Sylvia.
Verdict: Three great bands; all playing well and playing the songs we wanted to hear. A good night.
Classic Legends of Rock Harrogate Royal Hall October 24 2008
This triple bill of classic rock bands (Groundhogs, Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash and Focus) has been playing halls around the country for the past few weeks. The nearest date to us was Harrogate so went along with my friends Norm and Will to see three bands who we all had fond memories of.
The drive to Harrogate was straightforward and we quickly found the Royal Hall which lies in the centre of town. We went straight into the venue as we wanted to be sure to catch the Groundhogs who were first up. The Royal Hall has been recently refurbished and is a lovely old theatre, where greats such as the Beatles have played over the years. After a drink in the (quite expensive) bar we took our seats for the show. I bought a poster (a bargain at £2) and we had a chat with Joanna, who admired my Split t-shirt.
First up was the Groundhogs. We are all long standing fans of Tony McPhee and the band and have seen them many many times over the years. The set was (from memory) : Eccentric Man, Garden, Split 1, Split 2, Split 4, Natchez Burning and Cherry Red. Tony’s guitar playing was pretty on form tonight, but his singing wasn’t so hot to be honest. The drummer looks new, and is adding some backing vocals. It was nice to see them again, and a good start to the show. We then went over the road to the local Wetherspoons for a quick drink between the sets. Norm and Will had a word with Tony; shook his hand and congratulated him on a good gig.
Next up was Martin Turner’s version of Wishbone Ash. This was the first time that we had seen this band, although Will and I had seen Andy Powell’s Wishbone Ash a couple of times lately and we all three had fond memories of seeing the original band in their 70s heyday. The band played a set of classic Ash songs; and did them spot on. Martin looked great; it made us all think how great it would be if the original band were to regroup (probably not likely). The set was : The King Will Come, Warrior, Throw Down the Sword, Phoenix, Living Proof, Blowing Free, Jailbait. Back to Wetherspoons.
Focus closed the show. We all knew less Focus tracks than the other bands, but we were looking forward to hearing Hocus Pocus, Sylvia etc. Thijs Van Leer is a great showman, and a pretty crazy guy; the young guitarist is great and played Jan Akkerman’s guitar part perfectly.
A pretty good set which sent everyone home happy.
After some chips at the local chippy we made the drive up the A1 which was pretty clear all the way. A good gig; all enjoyed it.