Friday 17 April 2015

Wishbone Ash Pilgrimage Tour 2015 @ Aladdin Theater ~ Portland, OR
11 April 2015 - Concert Review

Wishbone Ash is one of my favorite progressive rock bands, expertly balancing blues, rock, jazz, and English Folk to form their unique sound, lyrics of great imagination that take your mind on a journey and of course, the signature harmonizing guitars!

Andy Powell, original Wishbone Ash member, expertly put this line-up of Wishbone Ash together with Bob Skeat on bass and backing vocals joining the band in 1997, Muddy Manninen on guitar and backing vocals joining the band in 2004, and Joe Crabtree on drums joining in 2007. This is the longest lasting line-up in Wishbone Ash’s history and together they still are the leading edge in their genre.

The show started at 8pm at the Aladdin Theater and the band made their way onto the stage. Andy Powell greeted us, “Hello Portland, it’s good to be back,” and then they went right into the first song, “The Power” from their twentieth studio album ‘Power of Eternity’. This is the first album to feature newest member, Joe Crabtree on drums. Joe has been playing drums for twenty five years and besides being very skilled, he teaches drum lessons and is an innovator in his field, recently releasing a new app for drummers called the PolyNome: The Ultimate Metronome.

Wishbone Ash performed two songs from their superb new album ‘Blue Horizon’, title track “Blue Horizon” and “Deep Blues”. Muddy Manninen is credited for writing the music to these two songs and many more on the album and is a great asset to the band, not only for his musicianship, but also for his writing abilities. He can write melodic and dreamy and also write thick, bluesy tunes with a strong riff. Muddy also deserves credit for bringing the slide guitar back into Wishbone Ash, at which he is phenomenal!

The highlight of the show was playing the ENTIRE original ‘Live Dates’ album! Released in late 1973, ‘Live Dates’ is testimony that Wishbone Ash is the band to see live and proves the studio, sometimes, can be too tame for those twin lead guitar solos! This Wishbone Ash legend has not changed, “live” they are a guitar lover’s dream team with long, trade-off guitar solos. Muddy’s smooth guitar style is the perfect complement to Andy’s aggressive guitar attack and when they lock up together in harmony, it can make a strong man crumble.

Andy Powell is in top-form for this 2015 Pilgrimage Tour with an unwavering voice and astounding dynamic guitar techniques! I stood right below him at the stage and twice I was face to face with his guitar, tasting every lick and loving it!

It was truly amazing to see Wishbone Ash perform their “Live Dates” album! They played the album in order, starting with “The King Will Come”, playing side one and then band took a ten minute break and came back with a vengeance playing side two. As the band began “The Pilgrim” the audience responded with a fervent applause. By the time the song was over most seats at The Aladdin were abandoned and everyone was in the pit dancing and singing along with the band.

I have to mention how important Bob Skeat’s bass playing is to the band! He comes in strong, laying down a heavy groove and harmonizing with the rhythm and lead guitars really fattening up that great Wishbone Ash sound! He is what Jack Bruce was to Cream in terms of bass playing (in my opinion), though Bob, not being the lead singer, is a great back up vocalist.

“Blowin’ Free” is such a gem and was made to be played live! Apparently, I am not the only one that feels this way, as the audience participation sky-rocketed! Andy handled most of the soloing for this performance and his tone and inventive guitar playing was off the charts!

“Bird rise high from the cinders, leave it all far behind….” A whopping fifteen minute version of “Phoenix”. They KILLED IT with this one! Every band member put forth every ounce of talent into this song exposing their incredible virtuosity. There it was, blues, rock, jazz, and folk arranged and delivered perfectly in one song making this a hair-raising ending!

Wishbone Ash continues their 2015 Pilgrimage North American Tour through May and then they are headed to London for a special “live” vinyl album recording that you can be a part of and then off to Europe. Wishbone Ash, the band to see live! You don’t want to miss this tour!

Review By:

Jill Maciel
West Coast Correspondent

Photos By:
Scott Banning

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