Success For Wishbone Ash Founder Martin Turner Is Written In The Stars
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Martin Turner: Dreadnought Rocks, Bathgate
4th November 2016

ian sutherland
Ian Sutherland

martin turner

Those people who have followed the twists and turns of the rights to the Wishbone Ash name will know that things have finally been legally settled and founding member Martin Turner now tours under his own name as a result. Of course the need for promoters to get punters through the doors means that he's usually billed as 'Plays The Music Of Wishbone Ash' but now with an album of new material under his belt and no court cases ongoing it can be all about the music new and old, and not about the lawyers.

The album 'Written In The Stars' gets a fair airing tonight as you might expect and opening duo 'The Beauty Of Chaos' and the title track sound suitably related to seventies style Ash and that patented mix of Turner's big bass sound and twin lead guitar. Danny Wilson excels in what is essentially the Andy Powell role (fortunately he resists the temptation to throw in any licks from his time playing for Showaddywaddy) but there is interim interference on his guitar and this becomes a real issue on the first classic tune of the night, 'The King Will Come'. Eventually they end up sounding as though the mix has lost one guitar completely so the band have no option but to stop and repair what turns out to be a problem with an amp.

martin turner

After a short delay the show resumes with remarkably little loss of momentum and another new song gets an airing followed by a run of classic Ash tunes. The best for me is 'F.U.B.B.', a lengthy instrumental known well by the afficianados which allows each musician a chance to shine while still remaining a recognisable song. No jamming here, just craftsmanship and a chance to really show how unique and accomplished Turner's playing is. There were many great bass players around back in Wishbone Ash's glory days and this man deserves his place alongside them. That big, beefy sound of his sometimes leads the song and sometimes joins with drummer Tim Brown as a dynamic rhythm section allowing Wilson and fellow guitarist Misha Nikolic time to show that individually they have what it takes. The pair of modern axemen easily confirm their their mastery of the band's famous twin lead guitar sound.

A double dose of class from their best known album 'Argus' in 'Warrior' and the hook laden 'Throw Down The Sword' please the crowd no end and are a suitable finish for set number one in a no support, play two sets arrangement.

Set number two stays with 'Argus' with an accomplished 'Sometime World' with its' mix of rock, prog and occasionally jazz tinged vocals beautifully performed. A return to the new material followed with a brave decision to play three songs in a row. This can often backfire with any audience mostly here to check out the old tunes struggling to focus on unfamiliar songs. 'Pretty Little Girls' and 'Falling Sands' have enough grit and quality to keep that interest but the moodier 'Interstellar Rockstar' does see the energy in the room wane a little. Fortunately the follow up is what you might call a deeper cut in Wishbone terms but 'You See Red' is a high energy song and soon has the crowd back in the groove.

martin turner

It's time to dust off more classics for the big finish starting with 'Living Proof', one of the best Ash tunes from their eighties era. It has lost none of its' magic with a heady mixture of harmonies, memorable riffs and catchy lyrics. 'Blowin' Free' finishes set two officially to great applause and even some dancing, though on a purely personal note it isn't one of my favourite songs in the band's massive catalogue of great tunes. I am much more enthused to hear the encore tunes which inevitably follow. 'Doctor' is a real tonic and 'Jail Bait' ends proceedings with a great bluesy edge, some singalongs, band introductions and even a joke from the main man himself.

This was a very entertaining evening with a man who is making the most of his situation and producing good new music while also celebrating his legacy in style. The voice isn't quite what it was(though the whole band including Turner do an excellent job on the old style harmonies) but his bass playing is still terrifically impressive, he has a cracking band and some decent new songs as well as a barrel full of classics to play. Never mind the band politics, if you like the music get along and see the man. Well worth the effort.


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