Wishbone Ash – Kidlington


Oh no – not another non canal post!

Wishbone Ash, Kidlington Football Club
Wishbone Ash, Kidlington Football Club

I’ll keep it quick then. By total coincidence I decided yesterday to check the spring tour dates for Wishbone Ash – a few years ago I used to go to up to ten gigs per year, including following them to Europe, so I guess I could have been considered something of a fan.  That is until guitarist Ben Granfelt left in October 2004.   Ben’s guitar playing was simply brilliant and I would stand in awe watching every move he made.   I haven’t seen them since his replacement Muddy Manninen joined the band, who brought a new bluesy guitar style which I simply did not like at the time.

What coincidence?  Well the band were playing that very night (Tuesday) at Kidlington Football Club, so I couldn’t resist the chance to see them again in such a local venue.  How out of touchI felt though – I didn’t even know the first couple of tracks but as they settled in and played some of the old classics I still felt that the magic has gone.  Andy Powell is still guitarist supreme – there is absolutely no doubting his ability, nor Bob Skeat on bass – who still punches out superb rhythm with powerful new drummer Joe.  But sorry, I feel that Muddy just doesn’t gel with the band’s style and – only in my opinion – his interpretation of classics such as King Will Come and Phoenix is just not what the twin lead guitar style of Wishbone Ash is all about, and to bring in a tabletop slide guitar was simply wrong.  In fact I was just as disappointed with him as I feared I may be.

Muddy Manninen (left) and Andy Powell, Wishbone Ash
Muddy Manninen (left) and Andy Powell, Wishbone Ash

So on the plus side it was still a great gig in a lovely little venue – and Andy joked that due to the overwhelming success of this 40th Anniversary tour they may even play in some bigger places in the future.  But for me, this lineup of the band is not my favourite and I think I may wait until Muddy moves on before going out of my way to see them again.  The crowd seemed to be enjoying it though – all is not lost – in his 40th year of touring with Wishbone Ash, Andy Powell still knows how to entertain.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Leaf_and_Streamer says:

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion but in the minds of the vast majority of WA fans, Muddy is simply the current superb player in a long line of great guitarists. He did of course teach/mentor Ben and they remain great mates.

    The Kidlington gig was not the best of the tour, fitted in at short notice, poor acoustics, tight stage etc

    I can’t agree with your views on Muddy – certainly not as flambuoyant as Ben (who is a great mate) but a well rounded player and worthy holder of the twin guitar slot. Andy has described him as the closest to Ted Turner but with more chops – so can’t be bad.

    Remember Ted used a lap steel so actually Muddy doing so is back to the original authenticity – Muddy also plays slide.

    1. Mike says:

      Sure I accept that Muddy is popular but still can’t see the attraction personally.

      And oops… I guessed I would be showing my ignorance with the comments about slide guitar as soon as I wrote that I didn’t like it. Still don’t like it but in keeping with the history of the band I totally accept that it actually does have a place in the current lineup.

      But we will have to remain in disagreement about Muddy’s style. I actually think Joe is keeping up the rhythm section exceptionally well, but certainly at Kidlington it still looked like Muddy was looking for approval rather than fitting in seamlessly and I couldn’t see much connection between Andy and he. I realise Ben brought a whole different interpretation and presence – it seemed to gel with my own preferences, so I do accept I am lamenting the departure of Ben rather than the arrival of Muddy. But long live Wishbone Ash – the very fact that the band still exists is true testament to all those involved both past and present.

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