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Martin Turner ex Wishbone Ash

Thursday 7th March 2024

Eel Pie Club, Twickenham

Martin Turner ex Wishbone Ash and his trusty band are currently on their ‘Live Dates Volume II’ tour covering the length and breadth of the UK over sixteen dates in March and April with a further fifteen dates in September and October 2024. The fourth date of the tour called in at the Eel Pie Club in Twickenham on Thursday 7th March. With each tour Martin tends to celebrate a classic Wishbone Ash album by playing the entire album along with a few other well-worn Wishbone classics. This tour, which comes off the back of the tour that celebrated the original 1973 ‘Live Dates’ album, is no exception as they will be dusting off the 1980 live album ‘Live Dates Volume II’. The current lineup includes Turner on bass/vocals, Danny Willson on guitar/vocals, Misha Nikolic on guitar and drummer Sonny Flint who joined in June 2022.

Bassist, vocalist, and songwriter Turner formed Wishbone Ash with drummer Steve Upton in 1969 going on to recruit Andy Powell and Ted Turner (no relation to Martin) on guitars. Signing with Decca/MCA Records they released their debut album ‘Wishbone Ash’ in 1970. The second album ‘Pilgrimage’ was released the following year with their most successful and best loved album ‘Argus’ appearing in 1972 reaching the dizzy heights of number three in the UK Album Charts. After their fourth album ‘Wishbone Four’ in 1973, Ted Turner decided to leave, replacing him was guitarist Laurie Wisefield (ex-Home). With the band adopting a softer Rock edge they relocated to the US and went on to release a string of quality albums including ‘There's the Rub’ (1974), ‘Locked In’ (1976), ‘New England’ (1976), ‘Front Page News’ (1977), ‘No Smoke Without Fire’ (1978) and ‘Just Testing’ (1980). By the early 80s their record company wanted them to go that bit more commercial and so it was suggested that they recruit a singer. Martin was not best pleased and so left in disgust! Subsequently, they actually failed to recruit a suitable singer and so abandoned the idea.

Having cooled off, Martin agreed to come back in 1988, with Ted Turner also agreeing to return for a reunion album and tour. The 1988 reunion album ‘Nouveau Calls’ was mostly instrumental with 1989s release ‘Here to Hear’ featured vocals. The last Wishbone Ash album to feature Martin Turner was ‘Strange Affair’ released in 1991 after which Martin had had enough and left! Surprisingly, Martin returned briefly to the band in 1995 to cover live duties for then bassist Tony Kishman, who had to bail halfway through for personal reasons.

In 2005, Martin formed ‘Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash’ to perform music from the definitive era of Wishbone Ash. The band's first line-up included guitarists Ray Hatfield and Keith Buck plus drummer Rob Hewins. Their debut release, entitled ‘New Live Dates Vol.1’ was released in 2006, followed by ‘New Live Dates Vol. 2’ in 2007. Both featured a guest appearance by original Wishbone Ash member Ted Turner. A re-recording of Wishbone Ash's seminal album, ‘Argus: Through the Looking Glass’ appeared in 2008 with the ‘Life Begins Tour’ a 2CD/DVD recording of a performance at Leicester Y Theatre being released in 2010. In July 2012 Martin published his autobiography ‘No Easy Road - My Life and Times with Wishbone Ash and Beyond’. Following court action pursued by Andy Powell to prevent Martin Turner using the name "Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash", in 2014 Martin Turner's touring activities were re-branded as "Martin Turner plays the music of Wishbone Ash". This was later changed to "Martin Turner ex Wishbone Ash". In 2015, Martin Turner produced a new solo album entitled ‘Written in The Stars’, its sound being reminiscent of the classic Wishbone Ash sound from the 1970s.

Martin and his band last played at The Eel Pie Club six years ago on 22nd March, the club being hosted at The Patch, which is located upstairs at The Cabbage Patch pub on London Road, Twickenham. The club was put together in 2000 by Gina Way, Warren Walters and Tom Nolan, to preserve and continue the heritage of UK Rhythm & Blues which started in the 1960s, down the road at The Eel Pie Island Hotel.

I'm fairly certain the gig was a sell out as the place was rammed full with rock aficionados! Wasting no time the band kicked off the evening’s entertainment with an old Wishbone classic in the form of 'Blind Eye' from the 1970 debut 'Wishbone Ash' album. Suitably warmed up the time came for an almost complete performance of ‘Live Dates Volume II’. Sadly, the only track not played was 'Living Proof', which just so happens to be my favourite track from the live album! Anyway, there were plenty of other delights to enjoy including the confessional 'Doctor' from the 1973 'Wishbone Four' album. Slickly moving on, the band continued with the thumpingly riff heavy 'Helpless' from the 1980 'Just Testing' album.

A set highlight and Wishbone Ash tour-de-force came with the exceptionally brilliant instrumental 'FUBB' from the 1974 'There's the Rub' album, that saw fabulously dextrous bass riffing from Martin, with breathtakingly dynamic twin guitar weaving from Misha and Danny. Sticking with this album we got the epically delectable 'Persephone' with a sweet toned heart wrenching guitar solo to die for! Two cuts from the 1976 'New England' album came next in the form of the lusciously candied 'Lorelei' and the mightily succulent 'Runaway'. Closing the first set was the mouth-wateringly scrumptious Laurie Wisefield penned masterpiece that is 'Way of the World', from the 1978 'No Smoke Without Fire' album. The track builds in intensity culminating in an almighty guitar battling crescendo! Great stuff indeed.

Opening up the second set was the classic 'Time Was' from the magnificent 1972 'Argus' album. The quirky 'Goodbye Baby, Hello Friend' from the 1977 'Front Page News' album was rapturously smooth. Back to the 1973 'Wishbone Four' album for the jaunty 'Rock 'n Roll Widow' that sees Danny take the lead vocal. Slowing proceedings down came the schmaltzy '(In All My Dreams) You Rescue Me' from the 1976 'New England' album before heading onto the final furlong with the weighty groove of 'Lady Jay' from the 1974 'There's the Rub' album, segueing neatly into the immensely wondrous 'No Easy Road' from the 1973 'Wishbone Four' album.

Closing the second set came another classic from the 'Argus' album, the dynamically cool boogie of 'Blowin' Free'. With the energy levels raised to maximum it was straight onto the encore with the colossal behemoth that is 'Warrior' before the whopping 'Throw Down the Sword' hit us full in the face! Both tracks are originally from the exceptional 1972 'Argus' album. To round off the rollickingly spirited set we were treated to the sleazy 'Jail Bait' from the 1971 'Pilgrimage' album. Suitably rocked we headed home warmly satisfied!

Steven C. Gilbert

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