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Hammersmith concert review - Melody Maker, October 1976 by Harry Doherty

It probably had something to do with becoming more familiar with the material from their new album New England, which is featured heavily in the set, but Wishbone Ash (at Hammersmith Odeon on Friday night) displayed far more bite than on my previous experience of their live set, at Croydon the week before.

 

Though I enjoyed the Fairfield Halls gig, I felt that too much of their set was all very nice and sweet but without total conviction.  There was ‘Blind Eye’ from the first album, ‘Jailbait’ from Pilgrimage, ‘Warrior’ from the overrated Argus and ‘Silver Shoes’ from There’s The Rub but that’s a sparse collection of classics.

 

I’m beginning to change my mind about them though, partly because of the consistency I found on New England mostly because of the immense enjoyment I derived from the London gig on Friday night, when Wishbone Ash were much more positive than I believed them to be, but with enough subtlety in their arrangements and playing to maintain an interesting balance.

 

As I said, my allegiance to their cause probably has something to do with the fcat that I’d spent the days leading up to the gig listening to and growing very fond of New England but there were also tracks from older albums which sounded more refreshing on stage than on record.  I’d never before reckoned on ‘Persephone’ from There’s The Rub as being a potential classic.  The same goes for ‘Time Was’.  Live performance has farced a re-assessment of their value.  I can’t understand, however, the inclusion in the set of the mediocre ‘It Started in Heaven’ from the equally mediocre Locked In.  It’s cheap boogie and extremely inferior to the rest of the material.

 

The set is built around the new album, opening strongly with ‘Runaway’.  All the album tracks are excellently adapted to stage performance, especially ‘Mother of Pearl’, with its grinding, choking riffs, and the beefy instrumental ‘Outward Bound’, which has guitarists Andy Powell and Laurie Wisefield wrenching the last notes out of their axes.

 

Apart from the encores – two straight-ahead rockers, ‘Bad Weather Blues’ and ‘Jailbait’ – Ash are never too obvious, testing their audience’s concentration with exacting solos and pretty intricate arrangements, but always doing so in a thoroughly entertaining fashion.