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London Rainbow Theatre concert review - Melody Maker, 20 January 1973 by David Lewis

Wishbone Ash are the best rock band in the world – at least that’s what I overheard more than one voice say as the audience reluctantly filtered out of the Rainbow on Wednesday night.

 

That may be a rather biased point of view, but it can’t be that far from the truth either.

 

The first band on were Stackridge, who are more commonly seen headlining than playing support these days. “Mutter” Slater was really incredible. Looking more like a Gumby than ever, he lurched and swayed over the microphone and beat the ground with his feet.

 

It was impossible not to respond to the contagious rhythms of Mike Evans’ jugs and reels, and when Mutter crashed in with the dustbin lids on ‘Let There Be Lids’, the whole theatre clapped in time.

 

It was a perfect set to get the crowd going, ending with an extended version of ‘Stark’.

 

But the rest of the evening belonged to Wishbone and they weren’t going to let slip a minute of it. Within a few bars of ‘Time Was’, people were on their feet to rock along, while others just sat and sang.

 

What makes Wishbone so different from many other British rock bands is their music rarely loses its direction. Turner and Powell are both brilliant virtuoso guitarists, they can play a meandering solo with the best of them, but Steve Upton and Martin Turner are always there, pushing from behind and laying down a solid rock bass line.

 

Their list of numbers was one they’ve stuck to for quite a while – ‘The Warrior’, ‘Throw Down The Sword’, ‘The King Will Come’, and ‘The Pilgrim’ all came and went to deafening applause, and by the time the band moved into their final number ‘Phoenix’, the theatre was awash with people dancing, clapping, or just blankly starring at the stage in admiration.

 

Before Wishbone could leave the stage the rhythmic clapping for more had begun, so back they came with the old Everly Brothers classic ‘Running and Hiding’ and their own ‘No Easy Road’.

 

Then off again, but the crowd were determined not to let them go and with all those thousands of voices roaring for more, what choice had they?

 

“What do you want?” asked Andy Powell when they reappeared and a cacophony of song titles rang out from all over. In the end it was ‘Where Were You Tomorrow?’, which may not have been the best song for an encore, but by that time nobody cared so long as it was Wishbone.