Oh no – not another non canal post!
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.
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.