Wishbone Ash – Arcadia Blues Club

Spent last evening at the Arcadia Blues Club to see the latest incarnation of Wishbone Ash.

Best known for their innovative and pioneering double-lead guitar work, the band played through two sets, each about 45 minutes long, thoroughly pleasing the sexagenarian (and older) crowd of about 100 patrons.

Concentrating on their estimable musicianship, the band’s signature dual-guitar sound filled the venue on tune after tune, opening with an unknown instrumental but then breaking into The King Will Come and Warrior (my personal favorite).

Many of us, who know that music well, were singing along with the stirring lyrics about the fury, fatigue and anguish of battles lost and won. With their latest album, Coat of Arms, just released the day before, the band played its opening tune We Stand As One, written as a tribute to those in Australia fighting the horrible fires of recent date. A fan sitting next to us told me about another tune on the album called Too Cool for AC, a poke at the simplistic music played by AC/DC. Ash played through a couple of their older songs to the well-versed crowd, including The Pilgrim and Jail Bait, both leading into the fabulous double-lead artistry of Throw Down the Sword.

The band played a couple of numbers that this author wasn’t familiar with, and a couple that did not exhibit their signature sound, and they came off a bit me-tooish. Then finished up with Way of the World and encored with a dynamite rendition of Sometime World, garnering a host of energetic patrons dancing up a storm in front of us.

On their 50th anniversary tour, only lead singer and guitarist Andy Powell remains from the original band, but was generously and most competently supported by his longtime bassist, Bob (Skeeter) Skeat, who also sang all of the high harmonies, a solidly technical drummer in Joe Crabtree, and a terrific lead guitarist in Mark Abrahams.

As a personal aside, we got there very early (in order to get good seats). When the drummer entered the venue, I offered to help them unload. My offer was accepted and I had a chance to help them set up a bit, rubbing shoulders and chatting with all the band members. Nice group of English lads, as they say. That was cool. That’s how we got front row seats, too.

Now I know many of you are not familiar with this band, as they were certainly not an AM staple, but if you are a fan of rock instrumentality, I urge you to pick up their first three albums, Wishbone Ash, Pilgrimage, and the masterpiece, Argus. All three hold up very well. You may discover how many later bands were influenced by their sound.

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