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Lochgelly Centre, Fife, Scotland
Saturday 31st October 2015

Ian Sutherland
ian sutherland

wishbone ash

Sometimes travelling around and about for gigs throws up some surprises, Lochgelly is not the most famous name on the touring circuit and not exactly the most celebrated town in the Kingdom Of Fife but in the centre you find the imaginatively named Lochgelly Centre which at its heart has a really good little four hundred seat theatre, a wee gem of a venue.

It is very busy tonight for the return of Andy Powell and Wishbone Ash. This version of the band, as opposed to the one formed by other founding member Martin Turner, is a regular visitor to this venue and Powell later says they've been playing there for seventeen years. They have a loyal following in the area as a result.

The Ash have always been more about content than style, leaving the flashy stagecraft to other bands but tonight's entrance takes low key to another level. After being introduced they meander on stage and are a full minute into their opening song 'The Power' before the house lights even go down.

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'The Power' is from 2007's 'Power Of Eternity' album and despite being viewed by and large as what is called a heritage act these days, Andy Powell sees his band as continuing to be a living, creative entity. As such their newer releases always feature strongly amongst the classics.

Tonight for me this works well when the material is strong like the title track of latest album 'Blue Horizon' which has some strong nods to the rock/blues/prog mix of the early seventies albums and develops nicely into that distinctive two guitar work out which they are famous for.

wishbone ash

Later insertions of 'Way Down South' and 'Heavy Weather' fare less well and are used as an excuse for a trip to the bar and the toilet for many in the hall which is a shame.

Of course everyone is mainly here for the classics and fortunately we got them aplenty. All time classic album 'Argus' pairing 'The King Will Come' and 'Throw Down The Sword' are thrown in as a one two punch to roars aplenty in the hall.

wishbone ash

Maybe more unexpected but just as welcome was an outing of instrumental track 'The Pilgrim'. The early version of the band had a lot of prog rock in the mix and there are shades of that and even a little jazz in this full on work out but like the best instrumentals it works as a song in its own right.

The complex rhythms really let you see how good the rest of the band are but this is Powell's show and he holds the attention of the audience throughout as he coaxes those classic mellow sounds out of his iconic flying V.

'Front Page News' is from the smoother , more mellow rock late seventies era of the band and personally I thought this version was a bit too heavy for the song, I always loved all the understated harmonies in the original. 'Ballad Of The Beacon' was more on the money, another laid back song but one that retained its bluesy edge here.

wishbone ash

'Living Proof' was a terrific addition to the set, I think the 'Live Dates 2' era of the band is really underrated and this song really gets the crowd going with its catchy riff and chorus. The guitar playing is of course top notch all the way through it too.

wishbone ash

The set list gets a little more predictable from there but the epic build up of 'Phoenix' are an essential part of any Ash show these days as are the inevitable encores of 'Jail Bait' and the closing breezy summer vibes of 'Blowin' Free'.

This was an excellent gig, near two hours of classic style rock played in that effortless, we're so good we don't look like we're trying hard style that you get from many of the old school bands. I think Mr. Powell is underrated as both an influence on UK rock in the seventies and as a guitarist now.

Fortunately he and his compatriots show little sign of slowing down on the touring front so you have plenty of time to catch them live and see for yourself.

wishbone ash

Line up:
Andy Powell – guitar, vocals
Bob Skeat – bass, vocals
Muddy Manninen -guitar, vocals
Joe Crabtree –drums

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