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Oxford concert review - Sounds, 19 October 1974 by Pete Makowski

Hello Wishbone, Goodbye Phoenix.

 

“It’s great to be back on the road,” said a relieved looking Steve Upton after Wishbone’s performance at the Oxford New Theatre.  Yup!  It’s sure been a long time since we’ve seen those cotton pickin’ string twangers boogying across the stage in full throttle, and their performances at Oxford confirmed that there’s still plenty of live in them.

 

The band recently suffered the exit of Ted Turner, a loss that could have finished the band, considering their main asset are the dual guitars.  But Andy (Flying V) Powell found his new partner before the band got a chance to audition anyone.

 

Laurie Wisefield (ex-Home, the band that made such a big impact on a Mott The Hoople tour) was backing Al Stewart in America when Powell popped over to New York and ended up having a jam with them.  Immediately the playing gelled and the alliance was sealed.

 

Although the band have been away from the road for so long, their tour has sold out at a lightening fast pace.  In fact, the Rainbow tickets were snapped up in five hours and an extra day had to be booked.

 

The New Theatre was packed with eager faces waiting for their heroes return. The band walked onto the stage amidst the cheers, plugged in and immediately got down to business.

 

Wisefield looked confident, a small figure behind a large metallic Zematis guitar, walked around the stage, while Andy Powell looking more dominant, strutted to the centre and belted out some powerhouse guitar.

 

The new material has the originality and excitement of the group’s Argus period and it’s quite funky too.  Another good thing and something that Mr.Upton pointed out was that the band didn’t play ‘Phoenix’ for the first time in three years.

 

The new instrumental of the set is ‘F.U.B.B.’ which was undoubtedly the finest number of the night.  Wishbone have always been as tight as a duck’s ass but this was ridiculous-water-tight!

 

The number began with some heavy fuzz bass guitar from Martin Turner, joined by the twin spearheads of Powell and Turner this built up to an ear-shattering crescendo, with Wisefield and Powell in the centre of the stage trading licks at incredible speed.

 

Of course, the band had to feature some of the standards.  ‘Warrior’, ‘No Easy Road’ and ‘Blowin’ Free’, and the audience not surprisingly let loose more with material they were familiar with than the newer stuff.

 

I thought the set began to drag on near the end, although the crowd seemed to want more after the second encore.  Martin Turner’s vocals were loud and too boomy, in fact the whole band sound could have done with less volume, in fact after the gig the group commented on the volume and it seemed that this wasn’t their best night.

 

It’s also a shame that they couldn’t have brought out some product before the start of the tour, because it’s impossible to criticise something on first hearing and the audience looked a bit bewildered at times.

 

It’s safe to say that Wishbone’s sound is much looser and beginning to move away from their original formula.  Powell and Wisefield make a very powerful combination, they’re both excellent guitarists and were just showing a promising glimpse of what was to come.

 

“It’s incredible that there are all these kids who’ve seen us for the first time,” said Steve Upton after the show.  Well, it’s not surprising.  Ten months is quite a while in the rock and roll calendar.  I mean, think how many bands have broken and disappeared since Ash were last on the road.

 

The boys have spent the last few months in the States recoding with Bill Szymczyk (Joe Walsh and James Gang producer) at the boards.  “That guy’s great and in fact we’re the first British band to be produced by him.  I think he’s captured something that was missing in the previous albums.  We’re really excited with the way things are going because it’s a whole new thing to us.

 

“I think the change came at the right time because Ted wasn’t very happy, and it was quite a risky move he made.  I’m really excited with the new band, it’s like a new lease of life.”