Dirty Dog Discs 2011 / Cherry Red 2016
“Argus” and other stories: former WISHBONE ASH bassist casts a playful glance over his shoulder.
Recreating the past was Martin Turner’s aim in 2010, so the veteran didn’t seek a new approach to classics anymore the way he tried a few years earlier. Yet, nostalgia aside, such task seemed at odds with Turner’s concept of time, an underlying theme of the concert captured here on two CDs and DVD; the concept which found Martin delving into not one but two WISHBONE ASH albums. “Argus” – performed in its entirety for the first time ever at the latter part of the show – and “No Smoke Without Fire” might be mirrored in “Time Was” and “Time And Space” that, once an out-take, gives it all a light start, but most of the songs demonstrate the futility of living in the past, let alone reproducing what’s gone down.
There’s a change in the dynamics, Martin adopting a leader’s position even visually and, with a tiny grey braid and fashionable outfits, looking the part of rock star, while delivering muscular bass lines on the delicate likes of “Sorrel” – very spectacular in close-ups of his fingers – although some of the depth is deflated by the group’s clownery. As if the “Chicken Dance” quote at the beginning of “Phoenix” wasn’t enough to undermine its drama, Turner lapses into an awkward folk dance in the middle of the piece before Ray Hatfield plays spoons on his own knee and on fellow guitarist Danny Willson’s arse. Not that it dulls their fantastic interplay on “Throw Down The Sword” or vocals’ weave of “Vas Dis” whereas “Living Proof” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Widow” bare a vibrant, relaxed elegance to what previously careened to sharper rocking.
On stage, when it comes to rarely aired songs, the folk-tinctured march of “Lost Cause In Paradise” is revealed to be a close relative to “Warrior” – both becoming softer in Martin’s reading – and “Ships In The Sky” arguably the best ensemble of the evening as opposed to “Blowin’ Free” that sounds quite amateurish. Of course, there’s always a crowd-pleasing finale of “Jailbait” to remedy things yet, for all the pleasure of hearing these songs live and nicely played, an aftertaste is one of legacy made shallow.