Wishbone Ash Newcastle City Hall 16th October 1977 “Front Page News”

Wishbone Ash Newcastle City Hall 16th October 1977 “Front Page News”
wishbone77tixSupport from the Motors
Wishbone Ash released their eighth album “Front Page News” in 1977. The album contained a clutch of slower soft rock ballads with the influence of the Miami sun coming through in the songs and their lush harmonies. This was Wishbone Ash’s fourth album to be recorded in the US, and marked the end of a three year period of living and recording in the States. The band returned to the UK the following year. The band went out on their now annual UK tour in Autumn 1977. I saw them at Newcastle City Hall on 16th October 1977, the first night of the tour. Using the “Front Page News” concept, the band took out full page advertisements in the music papers which featured the red-top newspaper “Daily Wishbone” with the headline news stories: “Ashes Back in Britain”, “Hot from Miami: a brand new album” and “Brand New Tour!”
wishbone77progThe newspaper concept was also carried forward to the tour itself. When we entered the City Hall a newspaper featuring fake news stories had been placed on each of the seats (see mine in the picture). This time the paper was called “Wishbone News” and the headlines were “Ash and MCA in Miami Connection” and “Laurie Locked in”. A nice touch and, for once a free programme for my collection 🙂
For this tour Wishbone Ash decided to start with five classic songs: “Blind Eye”, “Lady Whiskey”, “The King Will Come”, “Warrior” and “Throw Down The Sword”. What a great start. “Blind Eye” has always been one of my favourite Wishbone Ash songs, and it was great to hear it again. The title track from the new album “Front Page News” is a great rocker and made a strong impression live, as did the Laurie Wisefield song “Goodbye Baby Hello Friend”, a lovely soft-rock ballad which was released as a single and reminded me a little of Laurie’s old band Home. The rest of the set included songs from previous albums and more classic Ash in the form of “Phoenix”, “Time Was”, “Jailbait” and of course “Blowin’ Free”. By this point in their career Wishbone Ash had an amazing strong and diverse back catalogue, and on this tour they really played to their strengths. Martin Turner explained to Melody Maker: “We decided to play a lot of old songs that we hadn’t done live in ages, rather than play the whole of the new album. We’ve done that in the past, but it’s very ambitious if people don’t know the material, and the new album is quite studio-orientated, with orchestrations on some tracks.” motorsSupport for the tour was London band The Motors, who had just been formed by Ducks Deluxe members Nick Garvey and Andy McMaster, together with guitarist Bram Tchaikovsky and drummer Ricky Slaughter. The Motors had scored a minor hit with their first single “Dancing the Night Away”, which reached number 42 in the UK Singles Chart. This was before this big success with “Airport”, which was a number 4 UK hit single in 1978. The Motors were a good solid pub rock band, who were influenced by the new wave, and had some catchy pop songs. We made a point of watching their performance and weren’t disappointed. However, many Wishbone Ash fans were a little dismayed by the appearance of The Motors on the tour. This was after all 1977, the year of punk, and The Motors were seen as a “new wave” band, so those Wishbone Ash fans who remained committed to classic rock chose to stay in the bar.
wishboneashChas de Whalley reviewed the Newcastle Wishbone Ash concert in Sounds, giving it an excellent review: “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.”
Setlist (based on published setlists of the time): songs: Blind Eye, Lady Whiskey, The King Will Come, Warrior, Throw Down The Sword, Front Page News, Sometime World, Goodbye Baby Hello Friend, You Rescue Me, Runaway, Come In From the Rain, Phoenix, Time Was, Jailbait, Blowin’ Free, No Easy Road, Bad Weather Blues.
Thanks to Mitch for his photos of The Motors and of Andy Powell, which he took at this concert.

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