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London Rainbow Theatre concert review - NME, 20 January 1973 by Steve Clarke

Last week’s Wishbone Ash gig at the Rainbow was the band’s final appearance before they set off for a new American tour. To put it in a nutshell, it was faultless.

 

Faultless to the extent that I wondered whether the band are getting just a little too flash, a little too professional. Their timing is perfect. Their act is perfect – each member of the band moving round the stage in the right way at the right time.

 

Andy Powell and Ted Turner strut over to each other and trade licks. Martin Turner strolls around behind Steve Upton’s drums; Andy walks over to the far right of the stage (just a little too embarrassed to lower his guitar to crutch level). The spontaneity seems missing.

 

Wishbone opened with ‘Time Was’; Steve got in some nice rolls and the twin guitars reeled off the first sortie. Andy and Ted are find in the context of Wishbone Ash. But I have my doubts as to whether they’d make it outside the band. Their playing is a little too devoid of feeling – everything is too calculated.

 

For me, their finest hour on Tuesday night was ‘The Pilgrim’ from their second album. Andy plays the backing melody in front of Steve Upton’s hypnotic cymbals, while Ted Turner tops it off with clear piercing notes. Then Upton gets heavy and the song is in full swing. It’s Andy’s turn to solo and Ted takes over the backing lines. A beautiful song, beautifully played.

 

Another highlight was ‘ Phoenix’ – complete with smoke bombs. With its sue of dynamics it’s similar to ‘The Pilgrim’ in many ways.

 

Andy then it was all down to an encore. Ted Turner played pedal steel on what Andy Powell introduced as an Everly Brothers number. Whatever it was, the Rainbow audience lapped it up. More rock and roll for the band’s last single, ‘ No Easy Road’. By this time, people were dancing in the aisles and – I dare say – there must have been a few sore hands judging by the amount of hand-clapping going on.

 

I enjoyed the concert even if it was a bit slick. Best of luck, States-side boys.

 

Earlier Stackridge had turned in a set which can only be described as entertaining. Flautist Martin Slater did his usual antics in a rousing version of ‘The Stanley’, shortly to be released as a single. Best of all, though, was ‘Slark’, which ought to be re-released as a single.