Wishbone Ash Whitley Bay Playhouse 1 November 2022

wish tixAll of my blog entries are tinged with memories which linger from many, many years ago. This was the 50th anniversary tour of Wishbone Ash playing the Argus album. It is now 50 years since this legendary rock band released their classic third album, Argus. So many memories flood back. I am back in Newcastle City Hall in 1971, prior to the release of Argus, probably around the time that Wishbone Ash released their second album, Pilgrimage. They were still an upcoming band with lovely, melodic twin guitars featuring Andy Powell and Ted Turner. Front man Martin Turner (no relation to Ted) was on bass and also sang many of the songs. Standout tracks of the time were “Blind Eye”, the wonderful “Jailbait” and the epic “Phoenix”. It was clear from the early days that this band was something special; they blended folk, progressive rock and the twin guitars were synchronised in a unique melodic way which showed other bands, such as Thin Lizzy, the way forward.

ARGUS COVERA year later. Wishbone Ash have just released Argus. I am at the Lincoln Festival and standing high up on a lighting tower, the breeze blowing in my hair, watching the band perform a clutch of new songs which were to become classics: “Blowin’ Free”, “Time Was” and the tremendous “The King Will Come”. Other tracks from the album such as “Warrior” and “Throw down the Sword” took us back to the days of knights, battles and days of mediaeval England. Magical, powerful, stuff.

wishbone 1A few months later. I am upstairs on the balcony in Sunderland Locarno with a group of friends looking down at the majestic Wishbone Ash performing Argus again. Such happy days, carefree and exploring new sounds and experiences.Roll forward 50 years, and I am in Whitley Bay Playhouse. Only Andy Powell remains from the original band. There have been so many twists and turns along the way, with Andy waving the Wishbone Ash flag high and proud. His latest incarnation of the band does all of the old songs proud. I think sometimes they have become a little too heavy and rocky, losing some of their melodic magic along the way, but hey that is a minor concern about what remains a relevant and epic rock band. Wishbone Ash remain great and are out on the road playing a clutch of songs which they weave around the Argus album in its entirety. This is a night of reminiscences and reunions. I bump into some old friends Ian, Ian and Pete as I arrive. We have a chat about the old days and happy times from so many years ago.

wishbone4I take my seat close to the front with my carer Jackie (thanks for the photographs). The band are on stage a little later than promised, I think there have been some technical sound problems. Nevertheless the sound is great and Andy is clearly the front man, still sporting his wonderful Flying V guitar. We are treated to a clutch of songs old and new including the classic “Rock ‘n’ Roll Widow”. Then the years roll back again and “Time Was” (one of my all-time favourite songs) heralds the start of the ArgusWISH COVER album. The classic songs follow: “The King Will Come”, the (almost hit) “Blowin’ Free”. The album closes with “Throw down the Sword”. Wonderful. Magical. Thank you so much Andy for taking us all on a journey which you yourself have travelled on so many roads along the way. The encore is F.U.B.B. (F**ked Up Beyond Belief!). Sadly, probably because of the late start, we are not treated to “Jailbait” which the band have been playing on other nights of the tour. Still, this does not detract from what was a perfect performance of a wonderful, landmark album which I bought back in 1972 and played played and played. I still have a copy.

WISH SIGNAnd then another reunion! To top a great night I hear a cry “Smithy” and soon I am being hugged by my old friend Pete who I have not seen for probably 30 or 40 years. We spent so many days and nights travelling up and down the country together seeing classic bands. Memories of us together at the Reading Festival and in Charlton football ground witnessing a classic Who performance flood back. It is great to be in contact again, my good friend. A lovely touch to a wonderful evening. Thank you Andy for making this all possible and for selling a signed copy of your autobiography. It doesn’t get much better than this! Happy days.

wishbone3Setlist: In the Skin; We Stand as One; Coat of Arms; Rock ‘n Roll Widow; Standing in the Rain.

Argus: Time Was; Sometime World; Blowin’ Free; The King Will Come; Leaf and Stream; Warrior; Throw Down the Sword.

Encore: F.U.B.B.

17 responses to this post.

  1. Hi again, Peter
    We already know that you have great taste in music (and a terrific memory!) but it seems as though you and I are buying tickets for the same artists on the same tours too!
    I went to see Wishbone Ash just a few days after you did and I would concur that they do indeed put on a smashing show.
    What a classic album ‘Argus’ is, one of my all-time favourites.

    My review for the Holmfirth gig is here:

    Wishbone Ash: Saturday 5th November 2022, Holmfirth Picturedrome

    Roger 👍


  2. Posted by Eric de Ree on November 23, 2022 at 4:55 pm

    Hi always love your concert reviews, greetings Eric


  3. Posted by John Johnstone on November 24, 2022 at 10:12 am

    Hi Peter, I saw WA (for the 13th time!) at Kendal Brewery on 25/11 this year. Still putting on an excellent show and it was brilliant to hear Argus in its entirety. The setlist was the same as the one you listed except that I can’t remember them doing “Rock and Roll Widow” (shame) and they did play “Jailbait” as the final encore. They are the only big name band that regularly comes to Kendal these days (every year for the past 11 years except once due to lockdown), which is very much appreciated.

    I was also at the Sunderland Mecca show in 1972 (downstairs!) and it was at that gig that I fell in love with their songs and twin guitar approach. That was a great night and I was there with quite a few schoolfriends …


  4. Posted by John on November 25, 2022 at 11:31 am

    Some wonderful memories there. Really appreciate your reviews and recollections of past gigs. Keep on rockin’!


  5. One of my Top 20 albums. I play it regularly. Sounds like a fabulous gig. Thank you for the usual excellent write up.


  6. Posted by John Johnstone on November 26, 2022 at 1:47 pm

    OK, on checking the setlists at other gigs, it looks as though it is likely that WA played “Rock and Roll Widow” at Kendal. So I must have heard it after all! 👍🏻😄


  7. Hello Peter,

    I really loved this review, not only because I adore the album Argus, but I really liked your trip down memory lane. I also grew up in Whitley Bay in the 70s and lived just around the corner from the Playhouse on Evesham Avenue. Thus, I spent many a Saturday watching films at the cinema (I think it cost 40 pence at the time) and I still remember being filled with absolute fear when watching Jaws and Alien!

    It therefore makes me very happy to know that this fine venue continues to serve its Tyneside and other communities by hosting live music.

    I find great joy in reading your concert reviews here in Ottawa (even though they make me feel homesick at times!), so please keep them coming!

    With best wishes and many thanks for the reviews,



    • Posted by vintagerock on December 19, 2022 at 12:59 pm

      Hi Matti many thanks for sharing. Yes the old venue keeps going and has quite a few older rock bands on. I am pleased that you enjoy my reviews happy days Peter


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