Wishbone Ash Live 1980 “Just Testing”

Wishbone Ash Live 1980 “Just Testing”
wishbonetix801980 was a year of change for Wishbone Ash. The year started with the release of “Just Testing” – their tenth studio album, which included the excellent single “Living Proof”, a great rocker which remains a live favourite to this day. “Just Testing” spent four weeks on the UK chart, peaking at number 41. On the same day as it was released, Wishbone Ash commenced a 30 date UK/Irish tour, commemorating the band’s 10th anniversary. I saw the tour at Newcastle City Hall on 21st January 1980. It was another good concert, but their popularity had peaked, and the venue was not full. And it was the old favourites that everyone had come to hear.
A review of the Oxford New Theatre concert summarised the mood of the time: “…last night they proved their famous two-pronged lead is definitely of virtuoso vintage – but the “vintage” golden oldie tag is getting too close to comfort for a band still determined to take their rightful place at the top. Despite the promotions razzamatazz of their Tenth Anniversary World Tour, it was clear the band rely too heavily on past glories that climaxed with Argus seven years ago…wishbone tix2The tracks they took from Just Testing – were not in the same league as their other material.. the synchronised splendour of their twin lead flourished in ‘Blind Eye’, ‘The King Will Come’ and ‘Blowin’ Free’.” (Oxford Mail concert review, February 1980).
Set list for “Just Testing” Tour January 1980: Doctor; Blind Eye; The Way of the World; Living Proof; The King Will Come; Runaway; Lifeline; Insomnia; Phoenix; Blowin’ Free; Helpless; Queen of Torture; Jailbait; Bad Weather Blues; Too Much Monkey Business. I think the support at the City Hall 1980 might have been The Dukes. The Dukes were formed by guitarists Jimmy McCulloch and Miller Anderson. McCulloch passed away in 1979. The band continued, and Martin Stone and Charlie Tumuhai (ex BeBop Deluxe) were also members at one point.
wishboneprog80In May 1980
 Wishbone Ash went out on a 12 date UK tour, entitled the “Blowin’ Free” tour, which I caught at Sunderland Mayfair on 28th May.
Setlist for “Blowin’ Free” Tour May 1980: Doctor; Lady Whiskey; Helpless; I Need People; The Pilgrim; Lookin’ For a Reason; Runaway; Living Proof; The King Will Come; Phoenix; Blowin’ Free; Jailbait; Bad Weather Blues; Too Much Monkey Business
In October 1980
 the band met to discuss their future and talked of recruiting a lead singer/front person, in a bid to acheive the hit single success which had previously eluded them. Frontman Martin Turner felt unable to go along with the majority decision and relinquish his lead vocalist duties, so he left the band. The last appearance of the classic Mk II 1970s Wishbone Ash line-up had been on September 20th 1980
 at the Colmar Festival, France.
Many thanks to my friend John for sourcing a better quality ticket for the Mecca concert, courtesy of eBay!

8 responses to this post.

  1. The Newcastle City Hall gig was recorded for Live Dates 2 but the only track that was used was Blowin’ free which was released as the B side of the Helpless single.

    I was at both of these gigs – probably the last two times I saw Ash – seem to recall meeting the band backstage after the Sunderland gig – probably still got the autographed photo somewhere!


  2. Posted by Neil Thompson on January 28, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    In 1979/1980 my band, The Carpettes, were signed to Beggars Banquet. Clair Hamill was about to marry one of the two bosses at the company, Nick Austin, so we would often bump into each other at gigs and talk about the North East and things, she was a really freindly woman. Anyway – at that time she was recording and writing with Wishbone Ash so there was a bit of a connection with the record company and the band. I remember being introduced to Martin Turner at Gary Numan’s party and also remember him doing some freaky dancing to Honky Tonk Women on the dancefloor! The Carpettes were actually offered the support slot for the May 1980 tour but we turned it down – both bands played different types of music and the record company were always trying to get us away from the punk rock market but I don’t think we would have gone down too well with Wishbone Ash fans.


    • Posted by vintagerock on January 29, 2015 at 8:19 am

      Wow. Many thanks indeed Neil. I was trying to remember who the supports were that year. I think the support at the City Hall 1980 might have been The Dukes. The Dukes were formed by guitarists Jimmy McCulloch and Miller Anderson. McCulloch passed away in 1979. The band continued, and Martin Stone and Charlie Tumuhai (ex BeBop Deluxe) were also members at one point. I will be writing about Claire Hamill today, as she of course joined Wishbone Ash for a short period and toured with them in 1981. Thanks again Peter


  3. It was the Dukes supporting at Newcastle, The Trend were in that slot at the Mecca! Also my memory played tricks on me and although I do have the publicity photo given out backstage at the Mecca the autographs appear to be on my ticket… unless the ex wife has the autographed picture but I’m not going to ask!


  4. Posted by John Woodruff on February 18, 2021 at 2:07 pm

    The Trend supported on the 12 date May – June 1980 tour and reformed in 2017 releasing an EP and 2 albums since.


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