A R T I C L E S
a n d I N T E R V I E W S
Alexandra Palace concert review - NME 11 August 1973 by Barbara Charone
It was a guitarist’s weekend as Andy Powell and Ted Turner took over from Alvin Lee. Saturday’s concert was one of those rare evenings where everything works perfectly. Wishbone Ash headlined the festival’s most talented bill in what was indeed their finest hour.
Before a jam packed Ally Pally, Wishbone proved once and for all just how strong they are. Earlier in the evening the crowd was treated to a host of fine music supplied by McGuiness Flint, Climax Blues Band and Vinegar Joe.
After McGuiness Flint warmed up the appreciative audience, the Climax Blues Band took the stage. Not known in this country as a particularly amazing band, it took people a few numbers to realise just why America is so fond of Climax.
Everyone likes a good blues band but Climax take the whole progression a step further. Not content to spin out 12 bars all evening, the group leans towards jazz as well.
What makes Climax exciting is the interplay between Pete Haycock on lead guitar and Colin Cooper on saxes. On ‘Flight’ the two work in unison and in opposition, tossing off nice phrases.
Work out of the way, the only think left to do was boogie. As the bassist Derek Holt urged all to clap along, the band broke into ‘Shake Your Love’, picking up the atmosphere in the hall.
Few support bands receive encores, yet Climax honoured with that distinction. ‘Going To New York’, a real jiver, was offered. The band made friends that night.
A quick ride on the bumper cars and Vinegar Joe appear on stage. The crowd willingly succumbed to the wrath of Elkie Brooks and the fire of Vinegar Joe. The band really worked the big stage, getting it on just as they did at the Marquee. Here lies the test of success, transferring an effective club act to a large stage.
And the progression was all so smooth. The new look Vinegar Joe spread themselves out, displaying a bit of showmanship. Elk is completely out front now, stalking the stage, the link between band and audience. Robert Palmer while a bit more background, is a more integral part of the band on rhythm guitar. And big Pete Gavin, strong man of the drum kit, conqueror of the top hat, plays percussion that would surprise even old mates from Heads, Hands and Feet.
There were old favourites like ‘See The World’ and ‘Charley’s Horse’ where Pete Gage plays a guitar line with such dexterity one would swear it was two guitarists. ‘Let Me Down Easy’, an uptempo new tune that’s vintage Vinegar, all funk and punch.
Elk at the piano for another new song ‘Jesus Gonna Make It Alright’ featured soulful wailings. After the audience had sat through an ace version of the Isley Brothers ‘Take Me In Your Arms’, Elk had had enough. So the lady looked out at all of Ally Pally and told the crowd in no uncertain terms to get off their bums and moving. In seconds the entire crowd was at this lady’s command, dancing about and even sweating a little. ‘Never Met a Dog’ had them jumping. The whole thing ended with an outrageous ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy’.
Andy Powell, looking high class in white suit, hit the opening notes of ‘King Will Come’ and the place was off and stomping. Non stop music for two hours followed with Wishbone outdoing even themselves number after number.
There’s so much power in Wishbone Ash. Just watch Martin Turner start to play ‘Warrior’, slowly building he beats out a rhythm on his bass guitar, egging us on and making us wait for the musical explosion.
Steve Upton ignites the whole thing – wam, bam, thank you man – working close with Martin, laying down a firm foundation so Mr.Powell and Mr.Turner can show their wares.
‘Pilgrim’ was a nice addition, a typical Wishbone song that builds slowly, with guitars wandering about the melody before coming together and breaking out. Damn exciting music.
The set, basically in two parts with the first featuring music from Argus andWishbone Four while the second, much to the crowd’s delight, was some rock‘n’roll. So you though Wishbone couldn’t rock’n’roll? Ha!
For encores Wishbone brought out a four-piece horn section and pianist, just to convince those non-believers how very good they are. ‘ No Easy Road’ roared out at the crowd with impressive majesty.
There was no stopping the band as ‘Anyway You Want It’ steamed along with Andy and Ted singing together, all grins. ‘Where Were You Tomorrow’ came down on Ally Pally with uncontained joy.
It was Wishbone Ash alright, but like no one’s ever seen them before. It was the Wishbone of today, stronger than ever and presenting themselves as a high class, big time rock band.