“We’re going to revisit four decades of music tonight,” assured Andy Powell, the only enduring founder member of Torquay-formed blues rockers Wishbone Ash.
The Jam House
For the true devotees of the quartet’s unrelenting recording career, well represented here, that might have been an extremely tantalising prospect. For those with just a passing interest, only the 1970s mattered. The group may have continued in heroic fashion ever since 1969, despite fellow founder Martin Turner’s decampment, but their commercial impact has flatlined since 1980.
So this show was every inch the nostalgia trip, although it held the important distinction of being one which preached to the converted rather than went through the motions.
At least in the former case, as with here, a band might play with energy and enjoyment as they do precisely what’s expected of them, and there was little questioning the cheap but cheerful thrills of some of Powell’s most charged riffs or particularly drummer Joe Crabtree’s thundering contributions to Lifeline, Open Road and Engine Overheat.
Yet Powell and Co’s two-hour set was achingly, unashamedly trad, and there was little sense of real import or drama to the music – it isn’t a show which has grown and built momentum, rather one that has developed a certain sense of staleness. The riff-laden Heavy Weather and particularly the lengthy closer Phoenix were highlights, but also predictable examples of that kind of show-offy and heavily masculine guitar rock with which the 1970s will always be adversely connected.