A R T I C L E S
a n d I N T E R V I E W S
Tour Reviews - Argus Tour 2009 (Part 3)
Belgium and Holland 18-22 March 2009
Right, just back home from the second leg of the tour over in Holland.
So...Thursday night I was on my way to the Kade in Zaandam, where MTWA was to have it's first gig of the Dutch tour. I arrived early, the band plus sound wizard Mick had gone out to have a bite, but the people at the venue believed my honest statement that I had come to do the merchandise. Any coffee Mr. Blixa? Yes thank you love, much appreciated.
Maybe some 30 minutes later I saw both Mick and Dave enter and was shown by them where to set up shop. I must say that venue had a nice spot for doing business, right after the main entrance, so no escaping the thing.
Setlist from memory, before the break, "Why Don't We", "Lady Jay", "Persephone", "Pilgrim", "You See Red" and, off course, "Phoenix". First time for me to hear that last one from this outfit, and I must say I really liked it. Just a solid 10 minutes or so version without any unnecessary stuff.
Short break after that and then the the whole Argus was played with "Jailbait" as an encore. The most positive I've got from this evening is the comment from a lot of the punters. All in all everybody was very impressed by the band. Lots of folk saying "yeah, this is what my old vinyl sounded like". No knowledge whatsoever what has been going on in Ashland, but satisfaction all around.
I was introduced to Danny and Dave, whom I had not met before, and yes, they are both perfectly nice guys. Ray really surprised me by giving me his solo effortKing of the West, which after listening on the Friday I really liked. Not all of it but there are some really gems on there. Very much worth getting that one. Not much more to report on the Thursday event, save that we had a good time after the gig and the boys were nice enough to drop me at my hotel, much appreciated.
Then comes Friday - last year the band had a very good crowd here, so I was anxious to see how many showed up. At first, not as many as I had expected. People kept on coming though and after all it really was a good number that turned up. It turned out to be a very appreciative crowd. The reception was fab and Mart and the others seemed to enjoy themselves on the stage. Setlist was the same as the day before, with the addition of "Living Proof", now I can hear that song everyday, so, thank you guys, loved to hear that one.
This band has grown, the harmony vocals were the thing that stood out for me last Saturday in Shepherd's Bush, and these last two days proved me right, it is indeed so very good to hear. From standing next to the stage today I had a perfect look at Dave behind his kit: his force is not missing anything. Don't expect him to do something fancy (though he might surprise us all in the future) but never expect him not to deliver. A very solid and sound performance, this man has to grow on you. I know in my case he already succeeded in doing so. And a very nice gentleman on top of that.
My thanks to the staff at the Boerderij, this is the kind of venue you want to play if you're in a band, yes professionals, but also dedicated music lovers, I got all the cooperation in the world for the merch, sound and lightning were great, assist with equipment 100%. Thanks you all, enjoyed your place.
Tomorrow I'll give it a miss, but I'll be back on sunday in Weert.
It was the first time I had been to the Cwmparc Hall and what a wonderful little venue it is. Small enough to have an intimate feel but large enough for the band to play at a decent volume. Acoustically it is superb.
The setlist was a dream and for me the sound the band created was the true Wishbone sound. It was like a journey back in time. The vocal harmonies were great and the guitar work sublime. It was my first time to see MTWA and I was not dissapointed. It was nice to hear the songs sung by Martin, and he delivered on every song. But the one thing I noticed more than any other was the actual enjoyment and fun the band had while performing and that definately reached out to the 150 or so people in the audience.
I hope its not too long until the band return to the valleys.
I'd been looking forward to this gig for ages. Well, since seeing MTWA at The Globe, Cardiff in February! My third MTWA gig in six months. I have a friend in Tonypandy, so there were three of us including his 16-year old son.
Cwm Parc Hall is a nice old building which was originally a working men's club (for the miners I think). While we waited for the band to start, I spotted Ray Hatfield talking to some friends and signing his autograph. People were shouting for "Blowin' Free£ at the beginning and later Danny played just the first note and they all cheered. A knowledgable crowd.
As usual, the band were superb, swapping riffs and having fun. In the quiet bit in "Phoenix", Ray brought out some spoons and attempted to play them!
The sound was as usual very clear and you could hear all the vocals and harmonies. We could all feel Martin's bass lines thudding in our chests. A great gig and plenty of people up and dancing at the end to "Jailbait". Do they ever have a bad gig? I very much doubt it. We all agreed it was a great night and the teenagers comment was "they were awesome". Praise indeed from the younger generation.
The intro music - brilliant by the way….might have to steal that idea.
"Why Don’t We" was great - was a bit sceptical that Mart was singing it not Ted, but it was great!!!
"Blind Eye" - great. Classic!!! I loved it. Well sung and played.
"Rest In Peace" – was much better live than on the record (and I actually quiet like the record)
"Lady Jay" – brilliant, is Laurie Wisefield in the house?!
"Persephone" – went to the bar, got more beer.
"The Pilgrim" – sounds like Live From Memphis turned up full blast.
"You See Red" – fantastic.
Argus set was amazing. Missed "Throw Down the Sword" (at the bar – again). The acapella part in "Warrior" was stunning and the vocal harmonies in "Time Was" blew my mind!!! "Living Proof and "Jailbait" as encores – again just brilliant. Really outstanding…..sounds like all those live recordings of the mk1 and 2 line-ups.
Martin was on top form, a real inspairation. Dispite being a guitarist I watched him more than the guitarists!! What a master, what a legend and what a singer! He was a great bloke the whole night through, he must be a lot of fun to live with!
Keith – brilliant. He played and sung great! Shame one of the guitarists didn’t use a Gibson guitar instead….perhaps would have fattened up the sound just a touch more.
Ray – another shining star. He hasn’t got Andy's touch on guitar but what he does have is soul and energy…..what a great player again, vocally strong.
Dave – wow……he made it look effortless…..great vocalist too.
The club was small but great acoustics. The beer was crap. The cups were plastic. And if you stood still for too long you’d get stuck to the ground. Isn’t it great?! I felt like I was back in the day. The trip home was long….. but we had Lost Pearlsand the new Argus cd (I noticed Dad sang along on a few tracks. I think we may have a new fan in the making)
Thanks once again to every one who made this possible. The band for keeping theflag flying. And cheers to Mick for taking me backstage and of course Martin and his lovely family for being so hospitable.
Another wonderful performance. Good to see Keith again and the new drummer (Dave) was excellent. I took a mate along and he is becoming a big fan now (we also went to the Hogs/Focus gig at Shepherd's Bush).
There were a couple of things that really stood out for me in the evening. Firstly, some of the songs seem to be developing "new dimensions" even though they are nearly forty years old. The stand out song in this respect was "The Pilgrim" - which was just gobsmackingly brilliant. "Persephone" was wonderful too.
In a similar vein, the degree to which the band are re-interpreting Argus seems to be increasing too. I saw the set at Sutton Boom-Boom Club last year and that seemed to me then to be a much more faithful rendition of the original Argus. But some of the arrangements of the songs were significantly different on Friday, I think - of course, I may be imagining things (what do you all think?). I also feel that Ray's playing has something to do with it all as well. He just seems to be going from strength to strength now - he looks increasingly confident on stage is really letting rip on the solos now.
Great to hear it was a sell-out too - this band deserves nothing less.
I'm not too sure of the number of MTWA gigs I've been too - I think it's somewhere around 12 or 13 now - and they've always been excellent. But sometimes the venue means that it's extra special - and last night was one of those occasions. Huntingdon Hall is possibly my favourite venue of all the ones I've been to in the last few years. It has character. It has seats. And most of all it has brilliant acoustics. I was sat directly in front of one of the speakers, about 3 feet away, which can sometimes be a bit uncomfortable, but last night it was perfect. Every note wonderfully clear, and Martin's bass could be felt as well as heard - just how I like it.
This was the first time I'd seen Maurice play with MTWA (though I did see him with his own band at Ashcon once), and I have to say that Martin is very fortunate to have such talented people to call on when Danny is unavailable. I'm no guitar afficianado, but I know what sounds good and what doesn't, and in my opinion the boy done good. For those who care about these things, Maurice was playing a Gibson. I was particularly impressed with his rendition of "Phoenix". Those solos require the player to play with feeling, and that certainly came across. He didn't do very much singing (and Martin took all the lead vocal on "You See Red"), so I thought maybe singing wasn't Maurice's forte - but then he stepped up and did the Wetton bit on "Throw Down The Sword" and it sounded great. Dave's drumming was very solid, Ray played to his usual high standard, and Martin's singing was top notch. In the last two gigs I've seen, I've noticed a nice bit of banter developing between Martin and Ray, as befits the two senior members of the band.
Highlights? Well, everything really. But if pushed I'd say that the "Throw Down The Sword" solo gets me every time. Whether it's Ray & Danny, Ray & Keith or Ray & Maurice, it's shivers down the spine time, and as far as I'm concerned they could play it for 3 times as long! I always thought that solo was the highlight of an Andy Powell set, but MTWA have pushed it to new heights.
I overheard some very positive comments being made in the bar at half time, so it's not just us forum obsessives who are impressed by this band.
I hope some more gigs get added between now and August, but if not then next stop Shrewsbury.
Whetstone is a leafy London suburb and the All Saints Arts Centre is located behind an impressive old church. A rock gig felt a bit incongrous here but apparently the place has a long history of bands playing.
Maurice was deputising for Danny, the first time I have seen him play, and he did a nice job, particularly with the Argus material. Mart was on form as ever and Dave's drumming work was cool and understated. I particularly enjoyed "Blind Eye" and "The Pilgrim".
The only blip was Ray. He told the worst joke I have heard in ages and I trust he was made to sweep up afterwards as penance. His playing was superb as ever though. The crowd in general seemed knowledgeable and appreciative and, as ever, loved all the material played.
My only real negative comment is a selfish one and that is that I would now like to see the band do a set list without the Argus stuff. Not much chance of that though. Maybe you can have too much of a good thing.
Last night a small traditional workingman’s club in a quiet corner of an old ex-mining town was lit up by a splendid performance by the world’s foremost exponents of authentic classic Wishbone Ash music. The band - this time with Maurice again stepping in on guitar - rocked the packed out concert room with the now familiar (to us anyway) two sets. The opening sequence featured a crackling “Pilgrim” and “Phoenix” before climaxing with a spirited “You See Red” with Argusbeautifully recreated in the second half. The highlight was probably “Throw Down The Sword” which finished to a brief hushed silence then an explosion of applause from an enraptured audience. The encore saw several dozen fans up and dancing along in front of the stage, accompanied by Martin who jumped down into the throng to cut a rug with a clearly delighted bunch of women (he is such an old rake!) The final sequence saw “Living Proof”, an unscheduled “Blind Eye” (which was despatched as tightly as I’ve ever witnessed it) and finally, all too soon, “Jailbait” brought down the curtain on another great evening.
The club seems to have partially reinvented itself as a rock venue with the likes of Maggie Bell and The Animals due to play soon and with 200+ people packing in it seems destined for success. The band were, as ever, generous and entertaining before and after the sets with Martin in particularly good form recounting anecdotes about John Lydon and much else; and the band seemed relaxed and happy after their recent continental tour. Another hugely enjoyable evening. Roll on my next encounter with this magic band.
Ashington was jumping with anticipation and there was an air of excitement within the music loving fraternity of this once coal mining village. The venue was sold out with people contacting me 30 minutes prior to the show requesting tickets for this fantastic show……sorry, SOLD OUT!
Home grown talent ‘MO-Maurice’ stood in for Danny Willson and echoes of his inspiring, brilliant melodic guitar and complimenting harmony’s with ‘Ray Hatfield’ are still fresh in my mind! Well Done ‘MO’, we are not worthy!
A two-part set with varied selection of material from historical classic Wishbone Ash albums certainly did not disappoint the local fan base.
For any Wishbone Ash fans out there, this is a must see band. If you fondly remember 1970’s Wishbone, you will not be disappointed. In fact you will be nostalgically enthralled, inspired and content as I was tonight.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mick Curtis and Les for a wonderful job in promoting and organising this fantastic gig.
Local media review
Danny Willson review:
Here's a quick review of the gig from MY perspective.......
Compact outdoor mini-festival in a small square in the shadow of the cathedral, beautiful setting, very warm hospitality from the promoter & stage crew. Great food, fridge full of essential liquids, nice hotel (although we didn't actually get to spend much more than a couple of hours in our rooms!). 3 bands, us first, then Les Holroyd's Barclay James Harvest, followed by the Leningrad Cowboys.
Sun goin down as the opening chords of "The King Will Come" trip off the nimble but ugly and stubby fingers of our own King of the Vest, nice vibes from the crowd, happy faces singing along ("in ze fire....."), happy band, felt good & sounded good. The local Wormsters were enjoying the show and some of them wriggled their way to the front to get a better view of Martin's eyeliner only to be disappointed as it had been confiscated at the airport along with big Dave's lip gloss. Those airport officials with their anti-makeup stance are wholly responsible for the slovenly look of today's popstars. How are we supposed to maintain our glamorous image? It's alright for Girls Aloud and Mariah Carey and Graham "Warrior" Norton. They earn millions and can afford to have a bag of makeup waiting for them at every venue. Oh, how the other half live....
Anyway, rant over. Back to the gig. We went down a bomb. Came off feelin great, promoter very happy, audience shouting "encore" which is a french word that the Germans have borrowed and have decided to use until they come up with their own. As you know, we in the UK have for some years been using the word "more" which, along with a few ear-piercing whistles & heavy foot stomping, seems to have the required effect when attempting to persuade the exhausted artist back onto the stand. Mind you, we Brits are guilty of borrowing French words too, lest we forget. For instance "rendezvous". There would be much ink saved, and consequently it would be better for the environment, if everybody used the word "meeting" instead. And what about "soixante-neuf"? Look at all those letters....we should just say 69. Its only two taps on the keyboard, meaning your hardware will last a good deal longer, which can only be a good thing in these credit-crunch times. The only exception to the rule is "bon appetite" which is far more labour-saving than saying "I hope you enjoy your meal". Maybe one day some literary genius will come up with our own phrase for "bon appetite". Something along the lines of "beautiful appetite" or "nice appetite" perhaps.
Anyway, rant over. Back to the gig. So yeah, we came off stage to heartwarming applause, approached the dressingroom fridge & took some bottles therefrom, handed them to Ray, who is our designated bottletop remover, and greedily poured the contents south with a cry of "prost" which is the German's own word believe it or not and means "cheers lads, well done, all the best, happy new year". Its one of those rare cases where we Brits, and the environment, would be better off using a foreign word instead of our own long-winded phrase, but I doubt it will happen. Its one of those words that only works in its native tongue. Try it with your own tongue if you get the chance & you'll see what I mean.
Anyway, back to the gig. Les Holyroyd's Barclay James Harvest hit the stage next. The Wormians loved 'em, they went down a storm. Atmospheric music in a very atmospheric setting. Then came the Leningrad Cowboys. I cant even begin to describe this band. Well ok then.......long pointy shoes, long pointy fringes, many many band members, well-known songs played in a circus/heavy metal kind of style, outrageous costumes, great and bizarre show. Never seen owt like it in me life! Again the assembled Worms loved 'em & writhed their slimy hermaphrodite bodies in time to the strangely entertaining spectacle. Top gig.
Anyway, back to the hotel bar where we whiled away a very pleasurable few hours with a gathering of Cowboys, Harvesters, promoters & crew. Couple of hours kip and back to Frankenfurter Airport for an early flight back to dear old Blighty.
Phew, I'm off to bed g'night all!
Martin Turner review:
Reepham was good. It was a major schlepp to get there - we'd probably still be looking for it but for SatNav. The rain held off for the performance, just, and we went straight on using the van as a dressing room. Went down well with the 3-400 crowd and sold a few albums after we had performed. On the way back we drove through a lot of rain, it was hard work but by the time we got to London it was pretty dry again. Very sweet little event out in the countryside!
Once again Rhythm Festival provided a wonderful weekend of entertainment and fun. A fantastic series of performances whetted my somewhat frazzled appetite for MT and Co. Amongst others the Eric Bell Band (he did a nice tribute to Rory Gallagher), Ducks Deluxe and Eddie and the Hot Rods (the latter surprisingly stealing the show IMO) stick out. Not to mention the mighty Alabama 3!!
An enthusiastic welcome greeted MTWA as the band eased into their set with their first two numbers which were warmly received. The sound, to my ears at least, seemed very clear....so far, so good....
Ray "Cool Dude" Hatfield looked like he meant business with his wrap-around shades and Danny oozed charm with his warm smile and tasty axe licks - were we loving this or what? Naturally "Time Was" got the crowd going and got me off my backside. There was no looking back as MT swept through several tunes fromArgus. My only disappointment was that before I knew it, the band were blasting through their encore, "Jailbait", and leaving the stage to much applause! Time flies like an arrow and fruit flies like a banana, as they say. Unfortunately, although I got plenty of pics of various bands, I was so involved with MTWA I did not get any shots in.... apologies, very unprofessional. There again I am a rank amateur so that figures. It was nice to hear MT acknowledge Gary Carter's hard work so I was able to put a face to his name - well done mate!
Looking over at the Rhythm Festival forum, There are many comments saying how much they enjoyed the band and how they should have appeared on the main stage. I have to agree, although I quite like the intimacy afforded by the Alternate Stage.