Wishbone Ash – Poppodium Heerlen, The Netherlands – 7 January 2016

The European 2016 Tour of Wishbone Ash starts tonight in my hometown Heerlen, The Netherlands. Their last excellent album Blue Horizon was released in 2014 and for a longer time now the band consists of: founder member Andy Powell (guitar, vocals), Muddy Manninen (guitar, vocals), Bob Skeat (bass guitar, vocals) and youngster Joe Crabtree (ex- Pendragon) on drums.

Tonight Wishbone Ash will perform their legendary 3 rd album Argus in its entirety, something Andy did not know yet during the interview I had with him before the show……So, the audience can enjoy seven classic twin guitar songs, starting with Time Was and ending with Throw Down The Sword. Especially The King Will Come, Throw Down The Sword and Time Was make this a special and very worthwhile gig already, as the guitar solos of Powell and Manninen are really astonishing!

Of course Ash also play tracks from their last studio album, but you notice directly that most of the crowd are not really that familiar with this new material. Actually that is a shame, as songs like Way Down South, Deep Blues and Blue Horizon are in fact great rock songs, filled with lovely, melodic guitar solos and melodies. The amazing blues song by Jimmy Reed called Baby, What You Want Me To Do, which can be found on the legendary live album Live Dates, is also on tonight’s set list and here Finnish guitarist Manninen proves that he also can master the blues in a more than excellent way.

Last song of the regular set list is a song called Open Road from the album Number The Brave (1981), and this song ends with an exciting guitar duel between Powell and Manninen. Of course the quartet comes back for two encores, being: Jail Bait, a classic Wishbone Ash track from their second studio album Pilgrimage, and maybe the a bit more unknown (except for the Ash in-crowd) Living Proof, the opening song from their tenth studio album Just Testing. This show ends far too quickly for everyone, as the enthusiastic crowd definitely do not want to go home yet…. But alas, we will not hear Phoenix, The Pilgrim, Lady Whiskey, Ballad of The Beacon, Rock And Roll Widow and the extraordinary F.U.B.B. tonight. Maybe next time, but nevertheless this was a delightful evening for guitar lovers!

Review and photos by: Martien Koolen

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