Wishbone Act – Live at Variety Playhouse

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A case of mistaken identity.  I had thought that WIshbone’s most notable album, Argus, was a Rolling Stone 5 Star record – a classic.  That book included pictures of highly rated albums, and I could have swoWishbone_Ash_-_Argusrn I’d seen the album cover in the book.

Apparently not. 

It got 3 stars, with a band description as follows: “Wishbone Ash never quite fit into any rock genre.  They were simply a British hard rock act, with overtones of art rock (like Yes) and boogie music (Like Ten Years After), without a central personality, but capable of slugging it out on one-night stands throughout the U.S. and U.K.”

In hindsight, I think I must have recalled the album when flipping through bins of vinyl all those years ago.  That said, I did get around to buying the CD about a year ago.

The band has been around 44 years, with one original member but a continuing history of releases and touring.  As it happens, they set a date for a Saturday night in my favorite venue, and my concert buddy was agreeable to cross another band off the “seen in concert” list.

So, all of this is to say that I arrived with some misperceptions.  I had thought of the band as more of a progressive rock band, despite listening to the album a good number of times.  Thus, a V-Guitar is a dead giveaway that this isn’t a progressive rock band (more like heavy metal for my few readers that aren’t into music by read my concert reviews anyway).

The above is Andy Powell, the original member who wrote many of their songs and sings.  The band played Argus in its entirety to kick off the show.  Very soon into the first song, I realized that this a definitely a hard rock band.   The Rolling Stone review, which I read after the show, is definitely accurate.


Either I didn’t listen closely to the album, or I didn’t play it loud enough.  In either case, I find after a listen today that the concert was fairly true to the record, but it also pretty well obliterated any subtlety in the recording. 


Adding to the guitar theatrics was Jyrki “Muddy” Manninen, who alternated lead and rhythm guitar with Powell.  Manninen added some excellent slide guitar and definitely mastered the CryBaby “wah” pedal.


After Argus, the band took a 25 minute intermission, then returned with a variety of songs, a couple from their latest album and oldies as well, including “Phoenix” and “Pilgrim.”  There’s ample jamming throughout.


As usual, the lighting and sound at Variety was excellent.  The band’s amps were plenty loud, each doing a great job of separating guitar tones, and the overall mix between guitars, bass and drums was perfect.


If you’re looking for a good hard rock show, with strong bass lines and loud blistering guitar, then throw out the reservations about an “old” band and give them a try.  They’re on tour now.



3 of 5 STARS



Set List:

Set 1 (Argus):

Time Was
Sometime World
Blowin’ Free
The King Will Come
Leaf and Stream
Throw Down the Sword

Set 2:

Strange Affair
Blue Horizon
Rock ‘n Roll Widow
Baby What You Want Me to Do
The Pilgrim
Lady Whiskey


Deep Blues

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