A R T I C L E S
a n d I N T E R V I E W S
Tour Reviews - The Argus Tour (Part 1 - Feb-March 2008)
Great Bardfield, High Barn 1 Feb 2008
Well what can I say, I have seen MTWA perform many times but last nights gig by far exceeds them all. This was MTWA at their best, the set list was brilliant, the sound was amazing, Mart's voice was the best I have heard. A lot of it was simply down to the venue, the perfect place for a clear cut well balanced sound, everything was crystal clear, but most of the credit has to go to the hard work that Martin and the guys have put into rehearsing for this tour, they have worked their socks off and it has paid off big time, a lot of credit also has to be given to Mick who is doing a brilliant job as soundman.
For me personally, everything came together last night, it just worked, the interaction between the band on stage has improved enormously, they really work as a team, Martin taking backstage to let Keith and Ray come forward to perform some amazing guitar work. I loved every song they performed last night, outstanding one for me was ENAF, it was perfect and actually moved me to tears.
It was sold out last night, although the venue isn't as big as has been suggested, it holds 120 people but they had 150 in last night, and it was most definitely a Wishbone Ash crowd, if the venue had been big enough to take more, they would have sold the tickets, a lot of people did phone too late. I took time to look around and they knew the words, singing along, this crowd was very appreciative of what they were witnessing. A lot of people came up to us afterwards to say how much they enjoyed it, most lived quite local but quite a few had travelled, I talked to a lovely man who had come from Norfolk, Cromer I think he said. Martin came out to sign stuff and have a chat with a few people and they seemed delighted to meet him, I would say most people that were there were seeing MTWA for the first time, but I am sure it won't be the last.
Gary had a very busy night on the merchandise stall which is good news, all in all a very successful night, and when I think back to when I saw them doing their very first rehearsal a couple of years back at Liscombe Park, I feel very very proud at how far they have come now. Anyone who is thinking they might not get along to one of the shows on this tour, big mistake, you must go, you won't regret it.
Crikey !! What an eventful weekend. Arrived in Athens on Friday afternoon to be informed we had just missed a fairly large earthquake measuring 6 on the richter scale. Another one followed in the early hours of Saturday but that was just a 'normal one' around 4 on the richter scale. We then finished up with a blizzard, around 4 inches of snow and the airport closed for many hours. Our flight back to Larnaca was delayed for 4 hours, one flight to Heathrow was running 23 hours late. Anyway, I'm sure you lot don't give a damn about the Athens weather so I'll get a move on.
The Rodeo rock club is situated fairly near the city centre, and is beneath a row of shops. We were told that the venue held around 300 people. WRONG. At a rough guess there were around 400 in on Saturday, and maybe just a few less on Sunday night. Probably around 350-375. Spoke to Rob who informed me that the attendance at the gig in Thessalonica was in excess of 500. These Greeks obviously know a good band when they see one. When you consider the cost of the tickets (ours were £21), that's a pretty impressive turn out.
One thing was certainly very clear. The words HEALTH and SAFETY don't exist in the Greek language.
Anyway, on to the gigs. To say that these shows were outstanding just wouldn't do them justice. I could sum up the shows in just 4 words. SPECIAL, VERY VERY SPECIAL. No matter what happens, just make sure you get along to some of the upcoming gigs. You will not be disappointed. If it means finishing work early, then do it. If it means getting home in the early hours of the morning, then take the next day off. It cost me and the wife around £600 for the wekend, and it was worth every single penny.
The buzz of anticipation when the guys came out for the second half was just astonishing. We all knew what was coming, and it was so good. You just knew that you were seeing something very special indeed. I don't know how Martin found Keith and Ray but I'm very pleased he did. They were both on top form, but a special mention has to go to Rob on the drums. He was exceptional. Martin appeared to be thoroughly enjoying himself. Pulling plenty of faces for the cameras. We all know what a wonderful bass player he is but I just couldn't take my eyes off him during "Sometime World". I've been going to gigs for around 37 years but I've never seen anyone play a bass like that. As for the crowd, they absolutely loved it. There were many moments during Argus when Martin could have given his voice a rest. There were 400 Greeks (and 2 Brits) who were more than happy to help him out with the vocals. They knew every word. To sum up. If you don't go and see his tour, you deserve to have your backsides kicked.
Excellent time last night at Stanley. Had to make do with some sandwiches from Asda as there wasn't a restaurant to be found and none of the bars did food. Douglas Adams might have been wrong - that might have been the end of the universe, but there ain't no place to eat. The venue itself was lovely and the sound was as near perfect as you can imagine.
I got the impression that Keith and Ray were a little reticent at first but they soon got into gear and it was great to hear some of the lesser heard material in the first set. Disappointed that "Everybody Needs A Friend" wasn't there but we did get to hear a snatch of this from the comfort of the bar whilst the band were soundchecking. "Rest In Peace" is an awesome live number - hard to believe that something that sounds so lame on the album can be such an effective live number and "The Pilgrim" was superb too. And to have numbers like "Sorrel" and "Lady Jay" in the set as well rounds things off more than nicely
Argus was great with the best versions of "The King Will Come", "Warrior" and "Throw Down The Sword" (with a backing track of the organ). For the latter, both guitarists did their bit on the solo as per the album, opening up on the same phrase then each going their own way. The album was played slightly out of sequence with the set closing with "Blowin' Free" - otherwise it was played in order. Encores were "Living Proof" and "Jailbait" which got everyone (who had been set out at tables in cabaret style) on their feet.
My son regards Martin's bass-sound as the best going and he was well pleased with what he heard on that account too - when "Sorrel" kicked in was great. To be honest, Martin's bass playing and singing is the missing link that gives these old classics real character.
Without a hint of exaggeration this was an outstanding gig. I was just blown away with the material which was delivered brilliantly. Anyway, it was just fantastic. It's hard to single out any of the songs as extra special but maybe "The Pilgrim" and "Throw Down The Sword" should get a special mention. They were incredible. The twin solos on "Sword" were spine-tingling. I think, for me, "The Pilgrim" was the highlight. Never heard it so good. Martin was terrific. His playing and singing were just tremendous. I thought the singing harmonies were the best I've ever heard from ANY WISHBONE ASH lineup with the exception, perhaps, of the original band.
Special mention for Rob who sang excellent harmony with Martin. I nearly never went to this gig. SO GLAD I DID
Sutton, Boom Boom 29 Feb 2008
What a cracking gig it was tonight. Alright, im "hardcore", but i was with a group of people of mixed ash persuasion and they were all blown away The setlist went according to the last few gigs, no further surprises, and how could there be, with an afficionados set followed by a full Argus, followed by two Ash favourites as encores.
Having seen the band a number of times since their debut in Sutton back in Dec 05, it really was a privilege to witness this performance. This band take on board all the criticism and then proceed to answer it - we had "off piste" soloing, on-stage movement/interplay, crowd reaction etc. Ray played MOST of Andy's big solos and looked comfortable with it.
Some random thoughts: Martin played the T-bird all night, with a pick, Ray played a bit of slide, wandered about on stage a bit and did some fancy pull offs (?), Keith did some wah wah on "Rest In Peace" and generally gave it some welly, Rob played a bit of guitar on "Leaf and Stream", but as you can gather, what i know about guitars fits comfortably on a postage stamp. Let's just say it was a fine performance by all - my man of the match would have to be Rob though - his drumming on "The Pilgrim" was sensational and he had a massive grin on his face all the way through it - think he enjoyed that one! It has been said already, but they have all gained in confidence enormously since the early days (and since the live recordings). It was so good to hear the rare stuff in the first half i could have gone home happy at that stage, but the Argus stuff, even though it is all very familiar, was surprisingly good too.
I'm new. having seen the band in Deal last night. We had an offer of child minding and I looked online to see what bands were on locally, and really lucked out! I missed out on Wishbone Ash somehow, was aware of them but never really heard anything, though I did see them around '84 at an open air festival in Folkestone (I went to see Bernie Torme's band, who were 2nd on the bill). A couple of mates of mine have been playing two tracks from Argus a lot lately, which were the only songs I knew, and my wife didn't know any. I just wanted to say all that to point out that we were coming fresh to the band, not re-living past glories, which makes the fact that they totally blew us away even more impressive. The musicianship was superb, the songs universally excellent, the band all appeared to be having a great time, and Martin was a congenial host! All in all, you could say we are converts. Thanks to the band for a great night
Ashton-under-Lyne is one unremarkable place. The local IKEA is probably bigger than the town centre itself. The place is something of a collection of large retail parks, open ground car parks and a few Victorian building relics. I hope I'm not offending anybody from the place - but it's not somewhere you are going to remember in a hurry - nor rush back to. Having said all of that, The Witchwood, when I finally found it, was a decent little place with very friendly staff and punters. The support artist I have seen before - pleasant enough singer/acoustic guitarist with a funny hat - but I wasn't really listening. Just waiting for the main act.
Once M.T.W.A. appeared they did not disappoint. Straight into one of Ted's most memorable songs, "Why Don't We". A mixed and interesting collection but lacking "Time And Space", which I was particularly looking forward to hearing. However, the band were on sparkling form with Martin's vox particularly great that night. "Rest In Peace" is of course a highlight for me, but all the numbers were played with gusto and vigour (two moldavian panpipe players!) - seriously the band were steaming. I think that might have been the first time I've ever heard "The Pilgrim" live by any Wishbone line-up. "Everybody Needs a Friend" was tight and powerful and Martin was singing with real soul. The other numbers were great as well - particularly "You See Red" on which Keith impressed with both vox and the old geetar! Then it was back outside to continue the idle banter with fans and various members of M.T.W.A. coming and going before Martin realised he was back on in about 30 seconds and rushed off - hastily followed by ourselves to watch the second "Argus" set:
Performed in the new running order with the footstomping "Blowin' Free" appropriately as the set closer. I have to say first that Ray was certainly out to impress and he notched up his playing from 10 to 11 that night. A lot of Argusfeatures AP solos of course and in that role Ray was superb. All the guys were remarkable on this set. Hard to pick out a favourite but "Throw Down The Sword" was quite magnificent with great double solos (what's the plural of solo?) from Keith and Ray. Rob was his usual irreplaceable self, also quietly joining in with some guitar on "Leaf And Stream" whilst playing hi-hat behind his drums. A brief moment for the band to imbibe some necessary amber nectar and we were into the encores. "Living Proof" and "Jailbait" - both played with power and passion - always good encore numbers. Staying behind to natter to fans and band alike, and having a good chat with soundguy (in both senses of the word) Mick; I suddenly time-checked to see that it was 1:30am!!! Cripes - time to go. I didn't hit the sack until 2:30am (and had to get up to go to work at 7:00!!!). Knackered all day, but also looking forward to doing it all over again in Crewe later that same day!!! So look out for that review coming next.
Arrived at The M Club having spent a good half hour searching the streets of Crewe for the confounded place. I was greatly surprised because it is a very good venue – possibly Crewe’s best kept secret (they really need to spread the word more). It is a very good size (a former cinema I believe) and could easily hold several hundred punters; and is well laid out with a large standing / dancing floor space; scattered high tables & stools; elevated stage; and raised bar area. Just like a rock and roll venue should be. Bumped into Gary Carter in the lobby almost immediately and chatted to him at the merchandise desk for a good while before the gig started. Next in was Billy Auld and Ray Hatfield was also floating around pre-gig swapping pleasantries with fans.
Got inside the main hall just before the band started up and spoke to Mick (sound guy supremo) and noticed just what a great view you get from the mixing desk in this venue. Okey dokey - everybody knows the routine now - with the first set being a mixture of fan-favourites and the second set featuring Argus in its wonderful entirety. First we were treated to splendid versions of "Lady Jay"; "Rest in Peace"; "The Pilgrim"; "Why Don’t We"... The interval came and found most band members and a good half-dozen fans enjoying some fresh air (or a fag) on the venue steps. Then it was back in for the main event....
The band enjoyed a rapturous response with a good few of us doing our best interpretation of the Zorba the Greek dance along with "Blowin’ Free". What was missing for me from the first set was "Time and Space". I love this number and along with Stod and a few others have been badgering Martin for ages to include it. They hadn’t done it the night before at Ashton either and I was feeling a bit miffed. During the interval I was working on M.T. to include it in the encore and much to my delight they did just that. Without any introduction (and with everybody probably expecting "Jail Bait" or "Living Proof") they launched into "Time and Space" and it was brilliant. Brilliant because it has a great opening and repetitive riff – but also because it really worked well as an encore opener. I suspect it would work well as a main set opener as well. And as icing on the cake Martin declared they played it because I demanded it!!! This was then followed by "Jail Bait" as a rousing closer.
An excellent evening. The highlights were "The Pilgrim", "You See Red", "Throw Down The Sword" and both encores. "The Pilgrim" must be a difficult song to play live, but the band really rocked on that one. Buoyed up by that number, they then blasted through "You See Red" - Keith's vocals on that were so like the original, it was uncanny.
The second part was a triumph. The opening notes of "Time Was" conjured up the same feeling as I got when I first heard Argus. "Sometime World" rocked. Ray handled Andy's superb solo like a trooper and the closing notes of Sometime World merged effortlessly and seamlessly into "The King Will Come", without missing "Blowin' Free". The absolute top spot of the evening was the closing solos of "Throw Down The Sword". Keith & Ray's guitars swooped and circled each other in fine style. Mart retired to the side of the stage to allow them the spotlight and they played their hearts out and their asses off! All the hairs on the back of my neck were standing to attention!
Well! I'm awake now (just about). Yesterday at about 1am in the car on the way home I said. "Did that just happen?! I'm not going to wake up now, am I?". Happily, it had just happened, and it was in no way just a dream...
Honiton's about 70 miles from home, I believe, so it takes about 70 minutes on a good day. So we set off at 3pm. Yes, really. We got into Honiton about 4 and went to look around. Now I'm not kidding 14 Antique shops on the same street...what on earth!?But it started to pour down, so we headed back - but in a shop window there was a poster for the concert! ... this poster is now in my room.There was an awful lot of time killing to be done...and there wasn't a lot we could do. So we sat in the car listening to WA and me reading the WA book. About 5:30 I decided I wanted to see what it was like in the place, so I disappeared off with Mum leaving dad to "First Light". We were looking at the posters, when Keith Buck walked past...just like that! Eventually, I persuaded my parents to leave the car and go and sit in the bar! - seriously, I was climbing the walls! which is hard in a car.Keith, Rob and Ray were in the bar, too. It had a nice atmosphere to it, and we all got talking for about half an hour.
Then we went into the actual hall, and met Gary and his wife, who were very friendly and I'm very pleased to have met them - a credit to the band. I bought Martin's "Walking the Reeperbahn". The support act was called the Morris Brothers. Originally I thought "uh-oh they look far too young to play anything of consequence!". But I was really surprised - they can play really well, a nice surprise. Dad bought a CD - I can't believe it! A band that isn't from 60s or 70s which I really like...it's unheard of!
When the band came on, it was wonderful! The first set started with a bang - thankfully not literally! "Why don't we" was followed by "Rest In Peace" and then "Lady Jay" - completely wonderful - couldn't believe I was there, seeing them! Then Martin stepped up to the microphone and said "This next one is a moody little number. It's called "Everybody needs a friend" (this bit happened in slow motion I'm sure). Dammit - why didn't I remember to take any tissues? Absolutely amazing! I never thought I'd hear it played live! And they made it look so easy The rest of the first set sailed on wonderfully (much too fast, time always flies dammit!) With an astounding rendition of "The Pilgrim" (or "Pligrim" as Martin called it ). The first set finished on a high note with "You See Red".
With a 10 minute break, or so, everyone was talking about how good it was - wonderful atmosphere like before. Set 2 and a new shirt. Argus!! This set was just as unbelievable as the second, if not better! This makes me want to hear the newArgus album even more, it was astounding! But with the encores of "Living Proof" and "Jailbait", the concert was over - really fast, really, really fast. But I guess that's the way it goes!
Afterwards, the band came out for a chat with everyone, as usual. A nice tradition, that, don't see it with modern bands (so I'm told...never actually been to see one come to think of it.
Talking to Keith was really great, but also really sad as it reminded me I might not see him live again. But, as I've said, I'm very happy to have been able to see him once again - he's an excellent guitarist and we'll all miss him greatly. We talked to Rob and Ray, who were on stage packing up. Hopefulyl we didn't interrupt them, too much . We were all slightly deaf, too, which made things rather entertaining. Talking to Martin...he's too cool, isn't he, really. They're all lovely guys, they really are. Infact everyone I met there was! One of the most amazing nights ever!!!
Still can't believe it happened!! did it, really?!
I've seen comments about this latest tour that the band was never better and I questioned them, fool that I was. I've now witnessed it personally and everyone who said so was right. This band has grown beyond imagination.
The Boerderij, as it's called, is a very nice venue, with a balcony, which is seldom used.
I was pessimistic about the number of people showing up, but fortunately, I was proven wrong. My guess would be that some 300 to 350 people turned up. A lot of my age, but I saw some(very) young ones too.
The first set, I have to say, was a little disappointing, no "Everybody Needs a Friend", no "Time and Space", but "Lady Jay", "Rest In Peace" and "Diamond Jack" were gems.
Other songs in the first set were "Why Don't We", "FUBB" and "You See Red", the second set was, well Argus with the encore "Living Proof" and "Jailbait". General appreciation all around, people cheering, dancing and clapping. Good vibes to be had. My guess is Mart and the boys picked that up as they seemed to enjoy what they were doing. I had eye contact with Ray on more than one occasion and he seemed to be on cloud nine.
One personal note from me, hats off to the boys. Hearing Bucky and Ray do theArgus stuff that I'm so familiar with, made me speechless. They nailed it down perfect. That doesn't mean that I think they were copycats, just that they gave it their own twist that was really good. I daresay Martin rekindled the fire in a lot of folks, who had been out of touch for years. I met up again with a guy and his wife whom I have met numerous times at Wishbone Ash concerts but had their first look at MTWA. Just looking at the intensity of their faces did tell me they were enjoying themselves to the max.
I'm so glad to have seen Bucky, and to have been able to say my goodbye. It isn't very likely that Talon will go Dutch, nor that I will seek them out in the UK. Keith, meeting and knowing you has been my pleasure.
Concluding, a night well spend, and, lucky ******* that I am, I've got the chance to do it all again come sunday. Don't expect report from that one since I said it all here. Thank you Mart, Ray, Rob and Keith for a wonderfull evening.
This gig went well in all respects! The venue was not as bad as some have made out. Martin made a comment to those in the balcony to "rattle their jewellery" but it was not much different to somewhere like the Brook in Southampton, with plenty of standing downstairs - no tables in the way there - and a good crowd in.
We kicked off about 9pm with the usual pre-argus set. Did i tell you we have got a new guitarist? Ah, you knew that! Well most of the crowd didnt seem too bothered one way or the other, it was just martin and 3 other guys, but to those of us making notes, the boy done good! The second set will be familiar to you all -Argus - and it was very well played, the only difference i noticed was Rob coming out from behind the kit this time to join in on guitar to "Leaf and Stream". The encores were "Living Proof" and "Jailbait".
I am sure i dont need to emphasise what a fine player Dannyis - his contributions were particularly noted on "The King Will Come", "Why Don't We" and "You See Red", which he also sang. Let's hope he stays with the band as we dont want to see too many changes in personnel. Ray played a lot of the "big" solos, including THAT ONE from "Sometime World". Ray makes it look so easy, which we all know it isnt!
A curious thing about the Jazz Cafe that has always struck me is the complete lack of atmosphere about the place. Bands always seem to have to work very hard to generate an atmosphere instead. New guitarist Danny Wilson played consistently well throughout. This is the first MTWA gig I've seen with Danny in the band and I was struck by just how well he appeared to fit in. Ray supplied the most telling contributions guitar wise, he really has stepped up to the plate in fine style (first noticed this at the recent Sutton gig that Ray seemed to be taking the majority of the leads). Ray's guitar sounded great as well! Admittedly I was standing to the side and in front of Ray for most of the gig so I naturally caught more of his off stage sound.
The Jazz Cafe is a slightly upmarket ticket for a rock gig; smallish but perfectly formed with lots of chrome and neon and bar prices to swoon at. Thankfully neither the £25 "cash only!" entrance tariff nor the general snottiness of the door staff stopped a good sized audience filling out the floor and posh seats up around the balcony.
If the band started hestitatingly they were in full swing by "Rest in Peace" by my measure. "The Pilgrim" was just one pulsating flexing beast of a song; tight, precise and yet ferocious. If we must lose "FUBB" from the set list, this is its worthy successor. "You See Red" gave Danny a higher profile and he was well up to it; he was the match of all that the set list asked of him. The Argus set seemed to fly by; Danny carved out some terrain of his own with his "The King Will Come" solo. It's an observation rather than a criticism to note that only on "Throw Down The Sword" that I personally thought I missed Keith's hugely sensitive playing and interplay with Ray (who was IMMENSE throughout!).
The end of the gig was party central; the band rocked and there was a palpable ebullience in the the way the last songs were despatched. Huge thank you to Rob, who was my "man of the match" in a tight contest. Martin, who sang a heartfelt "Everybody Needs a Friend", seems to enjoy every successive gig more; when his band turn out such stormers as this one can only hope this continues; these performances are an absolute delight.