The Robin was busy as the support act, John Fairhurst took to the stage. John is one of the rising stars of country blues and rock inspired music and I must admit that I was looking forward to hearing him perform live. His reputation as one of the finest guitarists around and a listen to his album ‘Saltwater’ recently reminded me just how good he is. A summer of festivals and a solo and band shows have led to some high praise from his peers and supporters.
John proved that he is indeed one of the best. His voice is gravelly, rich and full of emotion but his playing is sublime, his fingers dancing and sliding their way around the strings with breath-taking ease and clarity. As he described the influences that have shaped his music, these were even better described by listening to the tracks themselves. From the almost shanty sounding to a stomping country blues track, the songs drew you a picture of his travels and life. Talking about his new born child and the lack of sleep that brings, his playing gave no indication of how tired he claimed to be. However, one minor hitch lead to John putting the guitar down declaring that it was ‘shit’ and out of tune. This did make people look a little startled as it may have been out of tune but trust me, it still sounded good to us in the Robin. The show must go on and it did. Concluding the set with an instrumental with clear flamenco, Indian and blues influences, John did show his immense talent and I hope to see and hear more from him in the future.
So to the main event.
It is 45 years since Wishbone Ash released Argus and Martin Turner, former bass player and vocalist of Wishbone Ash has been delighting crowds at festivals and playing dates this past summer as part of his bands 33 date The Beauty of Chaos tour.
The Robin was expectant as Martin and his band, Danny, Misha and Tim took to the stage.
Launching straight into Runaway, the Beauty of Chaos followed by Written in the Stars, and Error of My Way, it was clear that we were in for an evening of classic Wishbone Ash songs and a few from Martin’s solo work. Written in the Stars was wonderfully performed and the skill of the band was evident from the outset.
With a brief mention of Andy Powell but nothing to disgruntle anyone in the room, Martin chatted easily between songs telling tales from his career describing the influences behind the songs
The band are tight. Beautiful dual guitar riffs soaring into the room and filling your ears with not just the music but also with memories.
Front Page News, FUBB, Silver Shoes, Falling Sands and Living Proof all performed seemingly effortlessly and the smiles on the audiences faces really did say it all.
A brief interval before the ‘main’ set began.
Argus was released in 1972 but it still sounds great performed in 2017 by one of the best bassists around with his talented band. The melodic content of the music and beauty in its composition is wonderful. Martin does not have a really great voice but the added vocals from Tim (drums) and Danny (Guitar) fill out the vocal nicely but really this evening was all about the music and memories, hearing the classic tracks performed by the original singer. Space, war and time inspired lyrics, these songs were written at the peak of Wishbone Ashes creativity and the audience sang along respectfully to every word.
Time Was, Sometime World, The King Will Come, Leaf and Stream, Warrior, Throw Down the Sword, Blowin’ Free all perfectly performed. The band seem to enjoy themselves and have a good rapport on stage, laughing and smiling but more importantly respectful of the original way the album was performed. Nothing silly – no getting off on it riffs – no showboating, just a pure and enjoyable performance.
The encore did not disappoint with Doctor and Jail Bait closing a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Martin is touring the UK throughout October and into November; check out his website for more information on forthcoming shows.
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