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Newcastle concert review - Sounds, October 1977 by Chas de Whalley

Ash in Medal Winning Form


Whatever your tastes in music, there’s one thing you can never argue about.  Audience reaction.  A hall full of standing rock fans, clapping their hands above their heads and screaming their appreciation…..any band can inspire that has got to be good at what they do.  Needless to say, on the first night of their first British tour in a year, Wishbone Ash came out finally on top.  Their particular brand of middle class heavy rock sent Newcastle home in ecstasies.


Playing through a liberal selection of songs from almost seven years work of albums, Wishbone Ash began their one and a half hour set with material drawn from their excellent (and some would say best) LPs Wishbone Ash and Argus.  Then they settled into the warm California FM rock on their latest release Front Page News.  The youthful, but strangely polite audience recognised the intro to everything and rose to the occasion every time lead guitarists Andy Powell and Laurie Wisefield stepped forward over the footlights and pulled out one of their famous harmony lines.


Over a smooth and trouble-free PA, Ash’s three man vocal force were in good form too.  Bearing in mind bass player Martin Turner underwent treatment for a throat infection shortly before he appeared on stage, the band’s harmonies on the most recent songs ‘Goodbye Baby Hello Friend’ were as sweet and warm as Southern Comfort.


But if the middle of their set showed symptoms of the American hip easy listening malaise in its lopingly innocuous rhythms, Wishbone Ash had not forgotten how to rock, with the closing classic ‘Jailbait’.


Personally I don’t care one way or the other about Wishbone Ash, but they certainly know everything there is to know about getting through to their fans and at Newcastle they were in gold medal form.


They wiped the floor with the Motors who, suffering from nerves first time out on a big stage, failed to project themselves much beyond the PA stacks.  The following evening in Glasgow they showed a one hundred per cent improvement, but at Newcastle they looked like a shy club act and were accorded polite applause in return.


Nevertheless, The Motors still showed what a fine band they’re going to be once they find the confidence to back up all that the Nick Garvey/Andy McMaster corporate cranium.  Musically the Motors were in overdrive, Garvey and fellow guitarist Bram Tchaikovsky crashchording in unison across the stage while McMaster and drummer Ricky Slaughter race-tuned the rhythms.  And vocally all four built up a roar on ‘Dancing The Night Away’, ‘Freeze’, a rock-reggae ‘Cold Love’ and two new blasters ‘Be What You Got To Be’ and ‘Beat The Hell Out Of You’, that was not noticeably weaker than the wall of sound on their debut Virgin album, One.


Yet all that still failed to win them an encore, because with the exception of the leaping and legging Bram Tchaikovsky, the Motors stood largely immobile and wooded at their microphones.  They were so boring to watch that TV’s Mr.Nasty would probably have declined them a score for presentation.


He would have told ‘em to go away and watch Wishbone Ash to pick up some ideas.

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